The Passing of Henry J. Bruton

To the Williams Community,

I am sad to report the death of a central figure in the recent history of the Department of Economics and particularly of the Center for Development Economics—Henry Bruton, the John J. Gibson Professor of Economics, Emeritus.

Henry was worldly wise, in the best sense of the term, as his teaching, which began here in 1962, was informed by many long-term engagements spent embedded within economic policy-making processes in countries as diverse as Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, and the Philippines.

Based on this experience, he taught for many years one of the central courses at the CDE on general approaches to development, in which he prodded students to explore large questions: What is economic development? What does growth mean? Generations of CDE fellows held him in awe and maintained relationships with him despite the barriers of distance.

In recent years he contributed work to the Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education.

He served as chair of both the department and the center, and he chaired the committee that devised the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Through his fieldwork and the influence of his many students in positions of authority around the world, Henry’s stature far exceeded his frail frame. Likewise, a pronounced stutter was for Henry no impediment—he merely made sure that each hard fought word was a gem.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time. We will circulate news of arrangements when they are known.


Adam Falk