Ralph Bradburd

David A. Wells Professor of Political Economy, Emeritus

Students found your courses rigorous and very, very challenging. But also exhilarating. Inspiring, really.

So inspiring that a significant number of them credit you for their decisions to become economists. Even those who didn’t maintained a lifelong interest in economics as a tool to understand the world and make it better.

You are passionate and engaging in the classroom, a recipient of the college’s Bushnell Prize for excellence in teaching. Outside class, you are extraordinarily generous with help, encouragement, advice and mentorship.
A scholar in applied microeconomics, economic development and industrial organization, you chaired both our economics department and our political economy program. You consulted for institutions as diverse as the World Bank, the Federal Trade Commission and, yes, the New Zealand Dairy Group. You also co-authored a book promoting metrics for effective philanthropy.

You are deeply committed to the study of important environmental issues, chairing our Environmental Studies Program for five years and developing popular tutorials on the economics of carbon offsets and water scarcity. The latter, “Water as a Scarce Resource,” is remembered by alumni not just for expanding what they know but also for permanently altering how they think.

Your colleagues report that you don’t always say a lot. When you do speak, however, it’s to ask the most perceptive question and truly clarify the issue at hand.

We can’t summarize your contributions to Williams any better than did one of your students, who said: “I am often asked about the advantages of attending a small liberal arts college. I can answer in two words: Professor Bradburd.”

I hereby declare you the David A. Wells Professor of Political Economy, Emeritus, entitled to all the rights, honors and privileges appertaining thereto.

June 4, 2023