Atlanta — Dr. Michael “Mike” H. Mescon, 2016 recipient of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s Freedom Award, “father of economic education in Georgia,” and the man The Wall Street Journal once called “the Pied Piper of Private Enterprise,” passed away in Atlanta Sunday night. He was 87.
Sharing the news of Dr. Mescon’s death in an email today, Dr. David Martin, a longtime friend, said, “He leaves us all with a wonderful legacy. What an honor it has been for all of us to know and work with him.”
Dr. Martin, executive director of the Georgia Council on Economic Education from 1979 until retiring this year, presented the prestigious 2016 Freedom Award to Dr. Mescon on behalf of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation on November 11, 2016, at the Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner. The keynote speaker was John Stossel of Fox Business Network.
The Freedom Award is presented by the Foundation to a notable Georgian who has exemplified the principles of private enterprise and personal integrity. The ailing Dr. Mescon was present at the event, along with his wife, Enid, and son, Jed, a former TV news anchor in Chattanooga who accepted the award onstage on his behalf.
A congratulatory message was screened from his other son, Dr. Tim Mescon, who is based in the Netherlands and heads the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Dr. Mescon was an academic, businessman, author and an eloquent champion of private enterprise who held the first ever Chair of Private Enterprise, established in 1963 at Georgia State University. Its influence spread: Today, more than 200 related chairs exist across the nation and around the world.
“His colleagues told him that creating a Chair of Private Enterprise would be the end of his academic career,” Dr. Martin remarked at the Foundation’s 2016 event. “Boy, were they wrong.”
In 1963, Dr. Mescon also created the Center for Business and Economic Education to work with Metro Atlanta teachers. “So in one year, he became the Father of Private Enterprise Education in America and the Father of Economic Education in Georgia,” Dr. Martin said.
Dr. Mescon also became the first president of the Association of Private Enterprise Educators (APEE), created in 1978 with the help of two colleagues, Craig Aronoff and Bill Rushing.
As the genesis of a private enterprise education movement that spread across the globe, influencing thousands of teachers and millions of students, Dr. Mescon earned the well-deserved moniker, “The Pied Piper of Private Enterprise,” from The Wall Street Journal.
Michael Howard Mescon was born in Canada to Lithuanian Jewish immigrants who then moved to the United States. His wife, Enid Minsk Mescon, is the child of Irish immigrants who hailed from County Cork, Ireland, and spent part of her childhood in Adel, Ga. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Miami and his doctorate at New York University.
The author of hundreds of articles and books, including the bestselling introductory business textbook, “Business Today,” Dr. Mescon retired from Georgia State in 1999 and became dean emeritus of its College of Business Administration, now the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. He founded The Mescon Group, a consulting firm acquired in 2001 by the accounting firm Habif, Arogeti & Wynne.
“Mike’s greatest accomplishment was telling the story of private enterprise,” Dr. Martin wrote recently in a column in Saporta Report.
“His speeches would begin at Ellis Island and the attraction of the American Dream. He loved to answer questions about the role of profit in our economy – which he considered to be like the air we breathe and the blood that runs through our veins. To him, they are absolutely essential to survival in the world of business.
“He pointed out that without profits, businesses die, workers lose their jobs, stock holders lose the value of their investments, and a vibrant part of the community is lost. He also emphasized a point that dated back to his classroom experiences at Georgia State: ‘Show up, show up on time, show up on time ready to play.’”
Kelly McCutchen, President and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, described Dr. Mescon as “a champion of liberty and private enterprise.”
“It was our privilege to thank Dr. Mescon for his tireless efforts to educate Georgia’s young people about individual responsibility and the American Dream,” he said.
“He will be greatly missed. We are so proud that, thanks to Dr. Mescon’s dedication, Georgia is the wellspring for an education campaign that led millions in America and around the world to understand and appreciate the fundamentals of our private enterprise system.”
Dr. Mescon was preceded in death by his daughter, Nance Mescon, and is survived by his wife, Enid, and sons Jed and Tim.
View video of the 2016 Freedom Award honoring Dr. Mescon here.
About the Georgia Public Policy Foundation: The Foundation, which celebrated 25 years in Georgia in 2016, is an independent, state-focused think tank that proposes market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. Visit our Web site at georgiapolicy.org. Join The Forum at forum.georgiapolicy.org.