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In Memoriam: A. Dale Tussing, Revered Professor and Activist

May 2, 2023

After receiving a doctorate in economics from the Maxwell School in 1964, A. Dale Tussing accepted a teaching position at Washington State University. Soon after, Syracuse University Chancellor Melvin Eggers visited him in person to ask him to join the economics department faculty.

Tussing and his wife, Ann, were pleased to return to Syracuse. Tussing served on the faculty until his retirement in 2008, when he was named professor emeritus of economics.

He passed away on March 25, 2023, at age 88. He was a revered teacher, scholar and an activist who in 1963 boarded a bus from Syracuse to take part in the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march, which included Martin Luther King Jr., and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, drew 250,000 people and was a landmark in civil rights that brought about the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

In an interview 10 years ago, Tussing reflected on the 50th anniversary. “For me and my friend, it was the door that opened that got us involved in the Civil Rights Movement, which was a deep involvement, for as long as the Civil Rights Movement persisted,” Tussing said. “For most of us, who got involved in that way, it was a life-changing event; up until then we felt strongly about the need for progress in civil rights but didn’t know how to get involved.”

Subsequently, Tussing became active in the Civil Rights Movement, often working with the Congress of Racial Equality. He stood with the Onondaga Nation when a highway threatened to encroach native lands and participated in a sit-in at a site in the 15th Ward in Syracuse where the government was tearing down homes and public housing for urban renewal and to erect Interstate 81.

His wife, Ann, was also a passionate activist, often joining him in the protests. The pair married in 1955, a year before he received a bachelor’s degree in economics from San Francisco State College. They laid roots in Syracuse, eventually moving into the Gridley House, one of the oldest homes in Syracuse, which received a historical designation in 2010.

A specialist in health economics, poverty and Marxian economics, Tussing wrote groundbreaking reports on the educational and health systems in Ireland that garnered national attention and even a political cartoon in the country's main newspaper.

Published in the Spring 2023 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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