Remembering Professor Warfield

Photo of John Warfield

John N. Warfield, professor emeritus of public policy and integrative studies, passed away on November 17 in Sheffield, Alabama.

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.”

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. Finkelstein says, “In fact, John brought in our first grant—a nearly $500,000 project funded by Ford Motor Company.

“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 Sanders 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 was born in 1925 in Missouri. He held an MS in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri and a PhD in electrical engineering from Purdue University. He held several positions in private industry and served on the faculty of the University of Virginia before joining Mason in 1984. He retired from Mason in 2000.

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

Warfield is survived by his wife, Rose; sons, Dan and Thomas; daughter, Nancy Rose; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A slightly different version of this article by Robin Herron originally appeared in the Mason Gazette, November 23, 2009.