It is with great sadness that the Economics group at Newcastle University has learned of the death of Emeritus Professor Mike Jones-Lee.
Mike died unexpectedly on Monday 22nd February after being taken in to hospital earlier that day. Our thoughts are with Mike’s family at this sad time.
From the menu at the top you can link to a page which gives an overview of Mike’s time at Newcastle University – alternatively click here to access this.
You are invited to leave a message of condolence, which will appear at the bottom of this page, as soon as possible after receipt. Please use the form below to do this:
Mike was a lovely man and a brilliant economist. I will forever be grateful that I got to experience working alongside him (as his co-conspirator as he would call it). I will never forget him and will miss him very much.
Mike always ended communication with me in ‘Scandiwegian’.
Lute flute Mike.
Dr. Jytte Seested Nielsen
Newcastle University – Economics
Mike was a great source of inspiration when I turned to health economics. And every time I publish an article or book touching upon health economics there are references to him. But perhaps more important, he was a nice and generous person. He will be missed.
Per-Olov Johansson, Emeritus Professor
Stockholm School of Economics
Mike was an outstanding role model to any young academic. He was an outrageously brilliant thinker and an outrageously brilliant personality. Mike was capable of genuinely original thinking, enabling him to develop economic thought and advance economic theory. He also helped develop his colleagues and was always so generous with his time. At the same time, he recognised that everything was inherently silly and that there was always time to be light-hearted.
Mike was synonymous with economics at Newcastle. And his influence can still be felt, partly through the research that is still ongoing and partly through the commitment the group has to each other and to its students.
Mike will be missed so much, but I was so lucky to have been able to call him a friend and colleague. Wild Thing, you make my heart sing…
Mike was such an unforgettable character. There are so many things I will miss about Mike. He was kind and generous, one of the brightest people I have ever met and yet so understated. He had a bullshit radar that never failed. He made people laugh. He is simply irreplaceable.
My deepest sympathy to the whole family.
Dr Roxana Radulescu
Mike you were a marvellous character! Without you I wouldn’t have learned about the Temporary Lectureship the Department of Economics had at that time. My life would have been very different to what is has become since I gained that Temporary Lectureship. I owe you my deepest gratitude for my life since I first met you.
Dr Martin Robson
Department of Economics and Finance, Durham University
I am so sad to hear of the passing of Mike J-L.
Mike was the archetypal gentlemen and scholar. His research is pioneering and seminal in the valuation of life and decision making under uncertainty.
But above all I will remember Mike’s kindness and sense of humour. Always funny with a wry and accurate common sense and perspective on academic life and it’s ironies.
My thoughts and condolences are with Hazel and his family.
Prof Peter Dolton
Dept of Economics, University of Sussex
I’m really sorry to learn of Mike’s death: a really nice guy, who was responsible for me spending 10 years in Newcastle. Mike was always great company: I wish I’d spent more time enjoying it. My deepest condolences to the family.
Prof Daniel J. Seidmann
Economics, U of Nottingham
You were there at the beginning of my career and were supportive. Rest in peace. Francesco
Francesco Giovannoni, Professor
School of Economics, University of Bristol
I was greatly saddened on learning this news. Mike was a senior member of the department when I joined the economics department at Newcastle. He was a constant source of encouragement and was always generous with his time. He was kind, affectionate, and caring towards younger members of the staff. I have fond memories of the time I spent with him. He was also a wonderful academic and had a significant international reputation in his field. RIP.
Professor Sanjit Dhami
Economics, University of Leicester
Mike was fun to be around. So lively, attentive and kind.
He was original and modest. Very honest and intellectually stimulating. His knowledge and understanding were impressive.
I’ll miss Mike.
Mich Tvede, Professor
School of Economics, University of East Anglia
I will remember Mike with respect and fondness. I vividly remember the first time I met him in the mid 90s when I was a post-doc in York (with Graham Loomes) working on the HSE value of life project. He had a grand office at the top of the Claremont Tower in Newcastle and we had tea in proper cups and saucers! And over the years he came to be a great colleague on the many challenging valuation projects we were involved in.
Dr Judith Covey
Psychology, Durham University
Being Scottish, Mike would always greet me with a nice Pas de Bah and recital of a poem about Wee Jock McCuddy!
I first came across his kindness and generosity as a young researcher at Newcastle in the early 1980s, when he helped me design my first ever ‘willingness to pay’ study. We never looked back. Mike mentored and supervised me and other health economics colleagues around the UK and Europe as we embarked on renowned studies (‘EuroWill’ and, later ‘EuroVaQ’) based on his work. Mike was instrumental in my returning to Newcastle in 2002. Working with him again was such a joy as we continued to explore the Social Value of a QALY.
But, he never made wee Jock McCuddy feel intellectually inferior; although, undoubtedly, he was! XX
Professor Cam Donaldson
Glasgow Caledonian University
Very sad news indeed. Mike was a superlative academic in all respects: researcher, teacher and colleague. Something of an old-school gentleman, but with the addition of a mischievous sense of humour perhaps nowadays in rather short supply.
Irreplaceable and unforgettable……he will be greatly missed.
Sometimes you meet people who are deeply remembered. Mike was a great man and a scientist with an amazing sense of humor. I regret you will not play a joke on me next time I will be in Newcastle…
Prof. Ania Bartczak
University of Warsaw
It must have been the late 1970s when I attended Mike’s inaugural lecture at Newcastle University. It was an exemplar of academic rigour and a quite exceptional performance (there were no notes/prompts in sight). It was a tour de force. I was a very young academic at the time and I think it’s fair to say, I was totally in awe.
Working in different fields of Economics, our paths crossed little for many years but I never forgot that stand-out performance. Talents on display that day have been appreciated by generations of students and, of course, by a wide audience both within the profession and in public policy circles.
When, some 30 years on from that inaugural lecture, I joined the staff at Newcastle Economics, Mike became a colleague – it was a delight to come to know him better. Always affable, engaging and entertaining, Mike could be counted on to lift one’s mood (even when you thought you were fine!). Thank you Mike.
Dr Lynne Evans
Mike was special. He came to York with a background of engineering and economics, and soon became an essential colleague. He was a wit and something of a dandy – always immaculate and ready with a jest. His lectures and seminars were creative works of art, elegant constructions of many-coloured overhead transparent slides. He clearly enjoyed presenting and teaching, and as others have said, was a important contributor to the debates on the value of life: he persuaded the then Ministry of Transport to adopt a much higher value of life, thus saving many lives by requiring safer road design. He was a good friend too, and occasionally took his bug-eyed Austin-Healey off bricks for an outing. He continued to flourish in Newcastle, and will be missed by many.
John Hutton, Emeritus Professor
University of York
Mike was my PhD supervisor, and I greatly admired the depth of his intellect. But far more important than that to me, I found him to be one of the most kind, caring and fairest people that I have known in academia. Rest in peace, Mike. You left an indelible mark.
Dr Adam Oliver
Mike gave me my first academic job at Newcastle and was instrumental in getting me my first professorship. I have much to thank him for.
I was at Newcastle for around for 8 years and had a good time there. Mike frequently diverted any flack from “upstairs” and was always open to my suggestions to spend more departmental funds on “academic bonding” .
Unassuming but kind and an accomplished academic. I like many others will miss him, but still think about him.
Prof Keith Cuthbertson
Cass Business School, London
A good and wise colleague
Prof Tim Barmby
As a government economist I first knew of Mike as an academic whose work was such an important contribution to helping ministers’ and officials’ struggles with reforming the valuation of fatality risks. Later I worked with him in several roles over many years. I will remember him for many fine academic and personal qualities but most for his extraordinary warmth. My truly heartfelt sympathies to Hazel, Rupert, Ben and Sarah.
When I went for the interview as an administrator to join Mike & Graham (Loomes) Risk & Human Behaviour research team back in the 90’s – the admin test Mike had set was a task and a half – a full sheet of equations enough to put anyone off the role, though turned out to be important part of the role with all the papers Mike would write. I became part of the ‘CASPAR Pink Palace Brigade’ – some of my happiest days working in the University.
Mike was kind and generous and full of character, always upto mischief– not that the graffiti on the white boards was a giveaway when Mike had been doodling – certainly brightened up your day.
Mike use to give my son Alex some algebra tuition and he made such impression on my daughter Eve (aged 4 at the time), she nicknamed him ‘Mr Whiskers’ – which tickled him. I wish he’d got the opportunity to write the book ‘Mr Whiskers’ with Eve.
We will miss you Mr Whiskers – forever in our thoughts.
My thoughts and condolences are with Hazel and his family.
Population & Health Sciences Institute
It was with great sadness we learned of Mike’s death and our thoughts are very much with Hazel and the family.
Mike was a very welcome blast of fresh air when he assumed the headship of our then Economics Department. His reluctant second spell in an unfortunate crisis came as the dreaded quality assurance inspection loomed up. I was privileged to work closely with him on some of the urgent preparations and to appreciate his wisdom and competence. He may have lost his calm on occasion but this was never to the discomfort of any colleague. The outcome for the department was a gratifying success.
Rest in peace , old friend, and rise in glory.
Dr Ivan Weir
Newcastle University Business School (retired)
Mike approached his ‘job’ as an economist in the same way as he approached his prized Caterham car. He built his model, tinkered with it, refined it and tested it empirically over 30 years. It stands uncontested even today. This model – and the empirical study in 1989 led by Mike and Graham – to this day underpins HM Treasury guidance on the value of our safety across Government Departments. Mike, quite rightly, was very proud of that. We have often observed that Mike was doing “Impact” before “Impact” was invented.
On a personal level, arriving in the office of Mike Jones-Lee the first morning from the backwaters of Belfast (having not yet even defended my PhD) was, to say the least, daunting. What to expect? Certainly not the fag in the ashtray with a couple of inches of ash somehow clinging on and spiralling smoke into the air, not a ‘wee man’ with wild hair gazing out of the widow and papers (some yellowing) piled EVERYWHERE. He turned round and smiled and that was it. One of the team. I have never looked back and have too many fond memories to recount.
Having said that, perhaps my abiding memory will be of Project Meetings in London. Mike would arrive at Newcastle Station about an hour before the train was to leave and would be joined by myself and Hugh a few minutes before departure. The journey down was sober, focussed on discussions about the work in hand and Mike would appear increasingly nervous as we approached London. What a contrast to the journey back! Not sober, not focussed on work, wining and dining (good old days of GNER) gossiping and putting the world to rights. I was always secretly a bit disappointed to arrive back, the journey seemed to go so quick. But not Mike, I think..as we neared Newcastle his focus shifted to “getting home” – to Hazel and his family, who were THE most important thing in the world to him.
I will miss him.
Professor Sue Chilton
Economics, Newcastle University
I was lucky enough to meet Mike some years ago (in 2005). Since then, I have been able of sharing personal conversations about research and life in general with him. It was really impressive how easy was for him to find solutions to problems I had no idea how to tackle. He was always so patient with me and he was so willing to spend time helping me with my research with a smile. I keep manuscript notes from him that I have as a small treasure. On the one hand because those notes actually solve problems that were very difficult for me, but also because they remind me how lucky I was about spending time with him.
Jose Luis Pinto Prades
Department of Economics, University of Navarra, Spain
Mike was such an inspiration to so many of us. He spotted the potential in me as an extremely nervous undergraduate dissertation tutee, guided me through my PhD, and sparked an interest that has become my career. He was always so generous with his time and we spent many happy times with him guiding me through tricky technical issues that were of course, to him, trivially straightforward. His ability to make you feel capable and intelligent were extraordinary. I will miss him as an intellectual mentor, but also as a dear friend. Some of my favourite memories of him include him at his most mischievous and irreverent. That’s how I’ll think of him. Miss you, Mike!
Dr Rebecca McDonald
Economics, University of Birmingham
I feel fortunate to have known Mike both as a student and a colleague. His lectures were consummate performances (the use of a bin lid to demonstrate constrained optimisation has stayed with me for decades), while as my personal tutor he influenced my decision to do a postgraduate degree in economics.
As a colleague, Mike showed that it’s possible to be outstandingly excellent and a lot of fun. But you have to be canny special to manage it.
Thank you Mike.
Dr Stephen McDonald
Sad news… First met Mike in York in 1975 at the post grad course. Soon he was my first DPhil supervisor till he left to Ncl. I treasured his praise, his circling of words with a simple “good point” comment was always a source of joy and inspiration. His humour was unforgettable: “Kostas, if the Germans had you in WW2, we would not have broken their code” was a wonderfully human and unique response to my rather precocious mix of algebra mingled with abbreviated text that masqueraded as a thesis chapter! A master of warm and human communication mixed with an unforgiving intellectual sharpness and determination. His applied economics thinking has been my North Star from these olden days.
I admired his ambition: when I once asked him why he left an R&D in turbines job in RR – this was a good job! – to do an Economics PhD, he said it was “when he realised that the science has become such that he would never be allowed to build his own turbine design.
I still remember the title “Why Broome does not sweep clean” Try matching that title, let alone the journal it was in, we all thought.
Then I met Mike again when i returned to UK in 1990 and he and Keith C hired me to my first lectureship in Ncl. He was all one could ask for in a senior colleague and an HoD. Caring, encouraging, pragmatic and inspirational. Happy and productive days!
Above all, what will always live in me is Mike at the personal and informal level. We shared our love for fast uncomfortable cars, a lucky man to be able to fit in his Caterham, I used to tease him. When he met my wife in Ncl after exchanging family background info, he jokingly said “so you are spoiled military brat too!”. When he met my friend Axel (I think 6ft6) he looked up and said “they make them very tall today, don’t they.). I could go on and on… His spontaneous, natural and mischievous humour, his deep wisdom, his human warmth and his continuous generosity will always live in me.
A unique and unforgettable friend and colleague with whom we all have had the absolute joy to share parts of our lives…
Prof Kostas Mavromaras
University off Adelaide
I was very sorry to hear about Mike’s passing – I regarded him as great colleague and friend. We first met over 50 years ago, as we both started working in the Department of Economics at the top of Claremont Tower at around the same time. In the early 1970s – I joined in 1969 – the Department was very small, and Mike played a central role in its development, particularly in the role of mentor to younger colleagues just embarking on their academic careers. I always valued Mike as a colleague and friend – when we bumped into each other in the University or town we would always stop for a chat and he would invariably offer a lively story or two to brighten the day. May you rest in peace Mike.
Emeritus Professor Tony Appleyard
I came to know Mike when I joined Newcastle University as a lecturer in 2006, as the first teaching duty I was assigned to was teaching the maths seminars, when he was the professor delivering the maths lectures. I couldn’t quite figure out why I had so few students in my seminars and quickly learnt that many of my students were squeezing into the other seminars taught by Mike. So one day I squeezed in as well to see him in action, and I understood that I could never compete with his brilliant and entertaining way of teaching maths. He managed in the impossible task of making maths such an enjoyable subject! And still he made me feel valuable and always encouraged me, never ever remarking his evident superiority!
His office was legendary, so full of papers everywhere that it nearly intimidated me, a reflection of his deep intellect and academic experience, but his office was also dotted with his crazy inventions, because he was a profoundly creative person. And Mike was incredibly funny and always putting a smile on everyone’s face. I can still hear him singing to me “Just one cornetto, give it to me” a song that he sang to me so many times due to my Italian background, while also impressing me with his elegance and style in clothes, really unique in our academic environment (making him the archetypical British gentleman in my mind).
RIP unforgettable Mike.
My deepest condolences to Hazel and children
Dr Sara Maioli
Newcastle University Business School
Mike was a wonderful, charming, fascinating man. I met him in May 2000 when I attended a conference at Edinburgh and made a pilgrimage to visit him to talk about valuing mortality risk. As I knew, I was carrying coal to Newcastle. I spent a fabulous day in his office, together with Graham Loomes, hearing one incredible, hilarious story after another (with some insightful economics sprinkled in). Even if we met only rarely, it was the beginning of a treasured relationship with Mike and many of his comrades. Mike has the distinction of being the only person I invited to speak at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis seminar who never did (something about transatlantic travel dissuaded him). I continue to benefit from his writings and from cherished memories of time in his presence.
Mike was a giant in his field. Uniquely, he made original contributions to knowledge and to policy. I had two small roles in helping the development of his ideas. First, I was one of his guinea pigs in an experiment which, much to my surprise, resulted in the emergence of some wonderfully smooth and well-behaved curves. Second, Mike
agreed to contribute an article to the first edition of my new journal where he applied his ideas on the economics of safety to defence spending. Mike was a one-off: someone who made people he met feel better-off for having met him. He will be sorely missed by Hazel, his family and friends.
Keith Hartley Emeritus Professor
Economics, University of York
I will always treasure Mike’s tolerance of my views on risk as a mere flood hydrologist – he helped me to my current scepticism of a ‘one hundred year flood’. And….much more fun things about university life! I think we held most of our discussions in M&S or walking home to Jesmond.
Malcolm Newson (Emeritus Prof.)
I knew Mike in the University for 35+ years, he always had time for an irreverent, mischievous chat and did not conform with many academic norms, conventions and structures. We sat together in Senate meetings in the 80s sharing amazement and disbelief at some of the practices of University governance then prevailing.
His inaugural lecture in 1978 on Cost Benefit Analysis was a tour de force, a masterly public performance in which he conveyed his subject to both a general audience and specialist economists. The blackboard in the Curtis Auditorium was covered. in text and equations neatly pre written in chalk which he then carefully explained and left his audience in no doubt of the importance of CBA and Mike’s love and command of the subject. I left the lecture inspired and delighted.
Mike was a fine committed economist with a first rate mind, a lover of life and Economics. In many ways he was an old fashioned scholar out of place in a micro-managed institution of RAEs and Teaching Quality Assessment. He set his standards far higher than these and always achieved them. Newcastle University is a diminished place by his passing and I was privileged to know such a nice, talented, intelligent guy. RIP
Dr John Lingard
Agricultural Economics, Newcastle University
I was very sad to hear of Mikes passing. I worked with Mike initially when I became the School Administrator at the School of Management in May 2000 until I left the Business School in November 2019. Mike always took the time to talk to me and to ask me how things were going which was his clever way of finding our what was happening at the time. We often had an impromptu coffee when he had ‘retired’ and was just passing and I do believe I saw more of him when he had retired than when he was at work!. His wisdom and experience was very much appreciated and welcomed especially in the early days in terms of him supporting me to ‘understand ‘ how to work with academic staff. I have never forgotten his generosity of time and his wise words that he often used to relay to me and for this I am eternally grateful.
Helen Miller – Head of Operations Biosciences Institute
Faculty of Medical Sciences
I was very sorry to hear this sad news. Even those of us who were not fortunate to know Mike well personally, have been influenced greatly by his academic contributions and scholarly work. Many condolences to Mike’s family and friends.
Centre for Health Economics, Uni of York
I was taught maths for economists/ quantitative methods by Mike back in 1992-3, as an undergraduate. Maths can be badly taught but I’ve been lucky enough to have had some amazing teachers and Mike was the best. Mike left an impression on people around him and his lectures had the energy of real performance – he cared about performing well and he cared if you didn’t get it.
Some years later as a post doc I came across Mike again as part of a research team. I had read some of his work and now realised that he was an important scholar in his field – something almost never appreciated by undergrads! I was a little nervous I suppose to be working with someone so in command of his topic and so well known for his work. So I was grateful when he chatted, joked and danced a little jig for Cam each time he saw him, adopting a fake Motherwell accent and dubbing him Jock McSporran, or something (?!). At the first meeting of the European project to Value QALYs – acronym EuroVAQ – in a room of 30 or so researchers from 10 countries, Mike brought in ‘a EuroVaQ’ he had made from what looked like an Easter egg box and some balloons. It was brilliant!
I never felt that his accomplishments and brilliance affected his ego and he was generous with his time and explanation if I didn’t keep up with him. He is a great example of how academics should conduct themselves with others, particular those more junior and less well read. I take lots of lessons from him.
sending love to Mike’s family
Professor Rachel Baker
Glasgow Caledonian University
Mike was always so nice when I spoke to him. He was also very polite with the reception team when he came by the desk normally for us to order his taxi. He always treat my team with respect and was such a character. We will all miss him. With our deepest sympathy.
Michaela O’Doherty Facilities Manager
Newcastle University Business School
I haven’t seem Mike for a long time, though I remember his time at York His academic achievements were immense, but crucially he was a really nice person, always ready with a suitable joke.
John Hey Emeritus Professor
Mike was the best kind of colleague – imaginative, very sharp and huge fun to be with. I cherish our early days at York when we two collaborated in savaging visiting speakers at the departmental seminars. In those days, blood on the floor was the mark of a successful seminar (successful to whom and useful for what one may reasonably ask)! Fortunately, Mike matured into the kindest of men and, while he never quite lost the military tidiness of his personal appearance (a military dad being the founding ingredient – in pre-Hazel days, Mike even polished the soles of his shoes!), he became the most approachable of men and a fine mentor. His intellectual accomplishments will last, as will his memory amongst those who knew and loved him. Newcastle’s gain was very much York’s loss.
Professor Tony Culyer