It is with great sadness that we announce that former Professor Bill Burford, Emeritus Professor of Economics, passed away in September. A social activist and beloved teacher, Dr. Burford will be greatly missed by his family, friends and former colleagues at the University of Denver and beyond.
Bill Burford joined the Economics Department of the University of Denver in 1969 after completing his PhD in Economics at Ohio State University. Bill dedicated himself tirelessly to teaching and service and was quite beloved by his many students. He taught at DU for over 30 years, and his legacy includes a deep commitment to justice and equity at the University and in the world at large.
Dr. Burford served as chair of the Economics department from 1989-1995, guiding the program through the difficult work of recombining into one department (and one curriculum) a program which had been split between colleges. At the graduate level he assiduously worked with the University Administration to revive the Department’s MA program and on the design of a revised curriculum. Many former colleagues pointed to his skills as a diplomatic and compassionate leader as keys to his success in accomplishing his goals and enabling him, according to his former colleagues, to “beautifully handle the job of being Chair.” He also served as the President of Faculty Senate and earned such awards as the Pioneer Award (1987) and Distinguished Service Award (1989). From all accounts, he was friendly, supportive, and inclusive in all of his work as a DU faculty member.
This commitment to inclusive leadership extended outside the university, where Bill was a passionate advocate throughout his career. He was a key negotiator between the police, community and students during the “Woodstock West” sit-in protests in 1970. He continued to be an advocate for social and economic justice throughout his career, including labor issues, and notably spoke out about the economic impacts of the anti-LGBTQ+ Colorado Amendment Two in 1993, gaining national coverage with an interview appearing in the New York Times National Register.
At his request, there was no memorial service, but his friends and loved ones will miss this “kind and gentle” person very much and widely agree that the University was made better by Bill’s 30+ years of service to students and colleagues.
Our thoughts are with Bill and his friends and loved ones at this time.