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'Priceless' economics professor retires from OU after 50 years

By James S. Tyree Published: May 14, 2008
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NORMAN — Friends and colleagues at Indiana University knew Alexander Kondonassis would leave the University of Oklahoma, and they were right.

It only happened 47 years later than they predicted.

Kondonassis is retiring after teaching at OU for 50 years. In that time, the economics professor has taught thousands of students, received numerous accolades, and helped the department grow in size and quality. Not a bad journey for a guy hired in 1958 for an annual salary of $5,496.

"The things that kept me here is, number one, I like the people, and number two, OU has been very nice to me,” Kondonassis said.

At his retirement reception this month, Kondonassis became the only member of the exclusive Seed Sower Society who has not donated at least $1 million to OU.

OU President David Boren said an exception was made because the professor gave much more — 50 excellent years.

"To quote a credit card advertisement for Dr. K., 50 years of teaching and service to the university is priceless,” Boren said. "We so deeply appreciate him and he so richly deserves that recognition.”

Kondonassis was born and raised in Greece. After one year at the University of Athens, he accepted a full four-year scholarship from DePauw University in Indiana. His first teaching job was at Indiana University, which he enjoyed. But when OU called, Kondonassis decided to listen even though Indiana's economics department was larger and more established.

"I decided to take a chance to help develop a department that was small but I thought the potential was substantial,” he said.

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