Professor Emeritus Warfield Dies

Posted: November 23, 2009 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: November 30, 2009 at 9:31 am

By Robin Herron

John N. Warfield, 84, professor emeritus of public policy and integrative studies, passed away on Nov. 17, according to his son, Dan. Warfield lived in Sheffield, Ala., at the time of his death, and funeral services were held there.

Warfield joined Mason in 1984 and retired in 2000.

James Finkelstein, vice dean of the School of Public Policy, notes that Warfield was one of the earliest faculty members in what was formerly called The Institute of Public Policy.

“In fact,” says Finkelstein, “John brought in our first grant — a nearly $500,000 project funded by Ford Motor Company. My own introduction to John was helping him get the university to bill Ford for the project nearly 18 months after it had been completed!”

Finkelstein comments, “An engineer by training, John was one of the most creative intellectuals I’ve known. He is known as the creator of System Science and Interactive Management. Late in his career he began reading the works of the philosopher Charles Saunders Peirce and the Nobel economist F.A. von Hayek. He never stopped learning or teaching.”

In 2001, Warfield donated his papers to Mason. The papers are housed in University Libraries Special Collections and Archives and have been digitized.

Warfield held several positions in private industry and served on the faculty of the University of Virginia before joining Mason. He had an MS in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri and a PhD in electrical engineering from Purdue University.

A prolific scholar, Warfield held two patents and wrote eight books and numerous papers.

Among his many honors, Warfield received IEEE’s Third Millennium Medal, an award that recognizes “individuals whose outstanding contributions made a difference to the engineering profession and to the world in general.”

Warfield’s web site,, reflects his many interests.

In addition to his son, Dan, Warfield is survived by another son, Thomas, daughter Nancy Rose,  four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and his wife, Rose.

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