In Memoriam Jean-Pierre Urbain (1963-2016)
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” - Albert Einstein
On Saturday October 1, 2016, Jean-Pierre Urbain (Verviers, 1963) passed away in peace after a short period of illness. He was full professor in Time Series Econometrics at the Department of Quantitative Economics of Maastricht University, and since the last two years also the chairman of that department.
Jean-Pierre did his PhD at the University of Liège (1992) and in the same year started working at Maastricht University, where he became a full professor in 2006. Econometrics is about developing and applying quantitative and more in particular statistical techniques to economic problems in order to better understand and possibly forecast economic phenomena. Time series econometrics concentrates on recognising trends and patterns in economic data and trying to predict future economic developments.
In his ten years of full professorship Jean-Pierre supervised 15 students, all of whom have completed or are about to complete their PhD. He published 50 papers and a book, and was an internationally renowned expert on dynamic econometrics. He was heavily involved in teaching and is among the main people responsible for the success of the study programs of the School of Business and Economics, especially the Bachelor and Master programs in Econometrics and Operations research. He acquired several internal and external grants, including a Top Subsidy Grant from the Dutch Science Foundation NWO. For this organization he also frequently acted as a member of grant committees. At the moment of his passing away he was a member of the committee to evaluate applications for VICI, which is the largest and most prestigious individual grant.
But all these achievements owe their real lustre to Jean-Pierre’s radiant and warm personality. Everything that Jean-Pierre did came from genuine interest, never thinking twice. He was extremely popular as a teacher, equally due to his unrivalled enthusiasm for what he taught, as to his warm and caring attitude towards his students. He was an excellent department chairman, not just in a managerial sense but foremost because he intensively cared about the people in the department. His last deed in life was to donate an organ to someone who desperately needed it. To Jean-Pierre, everything in life was a miracle and should be treated as such.
There were other sides of Jean-Pierre. He was a fanatic and fantastic photographer. He was a fervent blues lover. In an exhibition not so long ago in Liège he combined the two and showed us beautiful pictures of blues musicians, which he had made himself in the US. That is what he sometimes did: take a break from all those things mentioned above and travel for a few weeks with a camera and a sound recording device through the blues states in the US. He wrote about blues in magazines. In the booklet included in the CD box “Le Mississippi: Le chant des fleuves” with music, texts and photographs selected by him, he quotes the Harlem poet Langston Hughes: “My soul has grown deep like the rivers”. Jean-Pierre has left a deep and lasting impression in our souls.
Our hearts and thoughts are with Jean-Pierre’s wife Marina and his daughters Céline and Émilie. Again from “Le Mississippi”:
“Ol’ man river, that ol’ man river,
He must know somethin’, but he don’t say nothin’,
He just keeps rollin’,
He keeps on rollin’ along”.
You keep on rolling for your beloved, Jean-Pierre.
Prof. dr. Philip Vergauwen, dean of the School of Business and Economics and Prof. dr. Hans Peters
There is a condolence book at the reception desk at the School of Business and Economics at the Tongersestraat 53, in which you may write a message of condolence.