Hall of Fame Class of 2012

William Hogan

William Hogan was a pack rat. He started collecting materials on the global iron and steel industry as a young Jesuit priest, and by the time he died some 50 years later he had amassed an unparalleled collection of materials. He left the collection to Fordham University in New York City, where he spent half a century teaching. The index alone to the more than 130 boxes of materials—known as the Hogan Steel Archives—consists of a single-spaced 196-page document.

The “Steel Priest” was perhaps the best-known iron and steel economist of his time, and his books are still widely read by industry executives and scholars. Along the way, Hogan met everyone—perhaps literally—in the domestic iron and steel industry.

Born in Bronx, N.Y., in 1919, Hogan graduated from James Monroe High School and sold newspapers during the Great Depression. He commuted to Fordham, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics, and he was ordained as a Jesuit priest in the 1940s. Hogan returned to Fordham to complete his doctorate in economics. His dissertation was a study of steel productivity, and during several semesters at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh he worked at U.S. Steel Corp. to get an up-close-and-personal look at productivity in the industry.

Years later, Hogan recalled meeting with U.S. Steel’s vice president of engineering to try to convince him that a study of industry productivity would be of value. The executive agreed, and Hogan spent two years at U.S. Steel, studying productivity and wage and labor issues. He joined Fordham’s Economics Department for the 1950-51 school year, and his dissertation was published as Productivity in the Blast-Furnace and Open-Hearth Segments of the Steel Industry, the first detailed study of steel productivity. The U.S. Labor Department was so impressed with Hogan’s work that it adopted his methods of productivity measurements.

After several years of religious formation, Hogan rejoined Fordham’s economics department in 1956. He founded Fordham’s Industrial Economics Research Institute and used it as a platform to develop a research and teaching program in industrial economics. Hogan’s innovative curriculum was eventually incorporated into the economic courses at more than 100 colleges and universities in 30 states. In his teachings, Hogan stressed the size and complexity of basic heavy industry as well as the labor and capital inputs needed to support the organization of businesses. Hogan was famous for using concrete examples from his own contacts and research to illustrate what he called “a supplement to courses in economic theory” that “gives students more opportunity to check theoretical principles against real-world business practices.”

Hogan’s early lectures were published in 1954 in his second book, The Development of American Heavy Industry in the Twentieth Century. By the mid-1950s, he had developed his theory concerning the interdependence of the steel, automobile, railroad, petroleum and utility industries, and through the Industrial Economics Research Institute he explored that groundbreaking observation. Hogan also saw to it that the institute provided internships to hundreds of Fordham students, many of whom went on to positions in steel and U.S. heavy industry.

In the 1960s, Hogan devoted much of his research efforts to his great passion: the history of the iron and steel industry. The 1971 publication of the landmark, five-volume Economic History of the Iron and Steel Industry in the United States established Hogan as the nation’s premier scholar of the iron and steel industry.

Following the publication of his magnum opus, Hogan continued publishing landmark studies on the industry, including The 1970s: Critical Years for Steel (1972); World Steel in the 1980s: A Case of Survival (1982); Steel in the United States: Restructuring to Compete (1984); Minimills and Integrated Mills: A Comparison of Steelmaking in the United States (1987); Global Steel in the 1990s: Growth or Decline (1990); Capital Investment in Steel: A World Plan for the 1990s (1992); Steel in the 21st Century: Competition Forges a New World Order (1994); The Steel Industry of China: Its Present Status and Future Potential (1999); and The Posco Strategy: A Blueprint for World Steel’s Future (2001).

During the 50 years Hogan spent at Fordham, he visited the vast majority of the world’s steel-producing facilities, delivered hundreds of papers at steel conferences—he attended every annual meeting of the International Iron and Steel Institute for 34 consecutive years—and often advised management at steel companies.

In the late 1960s, he served as a member of President Nixon’s Task Force on Business Taxation and was a consultant to the presidential Council of Economic Advisors. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was frequently called to Washington to testify on such topics as tax depreciation in the steel industry. During the 1980s and 1990s, he served as a visiting professor at both Pennsylvania State University and Purdue University in Indiana.

The American Iron and Steel Institute awarded Hogan the prestigious Gary Memorial Medal, citing his “uniquely distinguished contributions to knowledge that have advanced understanding of the iron and steel industry;” the Association of Iron and Steel Engineers established the William T. Hogan Annual Lecture Series in his honor in 1990; and Fordham awarded him an honorary doctor of law degree in 1996.

Hogan retired from teaching in 2001. He died the following year at the age of 82, having never lost the common touch.
Father George McCauley, who taught theology and religion at Fordham, wrote in a profile of Hogan that “he had a vast, direct knowledge of the industry’s intricate workings, from the smelter crews, ironmakers and sheet rollers he’d meet on the mill floor to executives who welcomed him into lofty offices. Miraculously, he had the trust of both steel producers and steel importers. Government officials, too, knew they were getting the real goods when Father Hogan came before them.” 

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