Remembering Bruce Webb, Emeritus Professor of Economics and Business

Bruce Webb, Emeritus Professor of Economics and Business at Gordon, died early Monday morning at his home, of cancer.

Prof. Webb, who came to Gordon in 1977, received his B.A. and M.A. from Northeastern University, and his Ph.D. from Clark University. As a teacher and a writer Bruce was known for the clarity of his explanations and his attention to the interface of theology, ethics and economics. “Bruce had an exceptional understanding of how Christian ethics and Christian theology intersect with economics across the whole sweep of Christian points of view and economic schools of thought,” says his departmental colleague Stephen Smith.

In 1982, he was among a handful of founding members of the Association of Christian Economists (ACE), and served for many years as the co-editor of the ACE journal Faith & Economics. He was also a member of the American Economic Association.

Over the years he contributed many articles to scholarly journals. In addition to serving as co-editor, Bruce wrote two articles for Faith & Economics that were among the most downloaded pieces from the ACE webpage: “Whose Theology? Which Economics?” and “Is There Value-Added in Christian Scholarship?” His answer to the question posed in the title of the latter piece was a qualified “yes,” but only if Christian thinking is open to the disciplinary insights that economics brings to the table.

In 2013 he coauthored, with Stephen Smith and Edd Noell (Westmont), Human Flourishing: The Case for Economic Growth (American Enterprise Institute Press), a book exploring the benefits of economic growth and addressing common concerns regarding how growth impacts the poor, the environment and culture.

Bruce was deeply committed to the liberal arts, and a strong advocate at Gordon for a curriculum that reflects global understanding, civic responsibility, theological reflection, aesthetic practice and scientific methods and principles. He was also, for many years, Director of the Christianity, Character and Culture Program.

When he received the Senior Distinguished Faculty Award in 2009, then-provost Mark Sargent said: “You would never catch this year’s recipient in an ivory tower. In fact, you can just as easily catch him talking with a colleague or student about good novels, recent films and ancient philosophy as you can engage him in conversations about the complexities of his own field, economics.”

Prof. Webb retired in 2011, but continued to work part-time for the College even as he battled cancer. In spring of 2014 he led most of the Jerusalem and Athens Forum class meetings during Prof. Tal Howard’s sabbatical. He also won a grant from the Acton Institute, along with Prof. Howard, to write a study on the general question of how Protestants can (and should) use Catholic social teaching.

“Bruce Webb epitomized so much about Gordon at its best: the teacher/scholar ideal for faculty, the vibrant connection between faith and our disciplines, and a high regard for the usefulness of liberal arts education in everyday life and for the common good,” says Prof. Smith. “He was a colleague’s colleague, an intellectual’s intellectual and, especially, a Christian intellectual’s intellectual.”

Bruce is survived by his wife, Susan, and sons Jeremy and Joshua.

Service information, from The Church of the Advent: A Requiem Mass will be sung for the repose of the soul of Bruce Webb next Saturday, November 21, at 2:30 P.M. A reception will follow in Moseley Hall during which everyone will have an opportunity to remember Bruce and greet his family.

The interment will take place in the Memorial Garden of Christ Church (Hamilton) on Sunday, November 22nd, at 2 PM, with light refreshments to follow in the Preston Cutler Room.

Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord. And let light perpetual shine upon him. Amen.