His academic career was spread over several institutions. Before coming to Caltech, he was a teaching assistant at USC from 1946-47, an instructor of economics at Princeton in 1948, an assistant professor at USC from 1952-56 and a research economist at the Stanford Research Institute from 1956-59. He became an assistant professor of economics at Caltech in 1959 and a full professor here in 1974. During his time at Caltech, he was also an economist at the World Bank, a consultant to the Brookings Institution and the Organziation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. While at Caltech he also served as Master of Student Houses from 1987-88 and chaired the convocation committee as well as serving on several other Institute committees.
He held fellowships at the London School of Economics and the Rockefeller Foundation. He was a member of several professional associations including the Royal Economic Society, the American Economic Association and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Oliver also served in several positions with the city of Pasadena including the Pasadena Citizens Downtown Improvement Board, the Pasadena Board of Directors (the Pasadena City Council), the Planning Commission and the Future Land Use Committee. He was a current member of the Pasadena Utility Advisory Committee.
Oliver is survived by his wife, Jean, of Pasadena; his daughter, Lesley, of San Diego; and his son, Stewart, of Los Angeles. Memorial services will be held on Thursday, July 23, at 1:30 p.m. at the Church of the Recessional at the Glendale Forest Lawn located at 1712 S. Glendale Ave. Robert W. Oliver, professor emeritus of economics at Caltech, died Friday, July 17, of a heart attack in Pasadena. He was 75. A native of Los Angeles, Oliver earned his bachelor's degree in international relations and economics from the University of Southern California in 1943. He then focused his attention solely on economics, earning his master's in that subject in 1948, also from U.S.C. For his doctorate, he again concentrated on economics, earning his degree from Princeton University in 1957 where he wrote a 600-page dissertation.