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Economics professor Craufurd Goodwin is remembered for deep loyalty to Duke, dedication to students

Craufurd Goodwin, James B. Duke professor emeritus of economics, died in April after more than 50 years of service to the University.

Bruce Caldwell, one of Goodwin’s colleagues and director of the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke, said that Goodwin had successfully defeated cancer during his 50s. However, when the cancer returned a few years ago, the road to recovery was less clear. Caldwell noted that after more than a year of battling the cancer, Goodwin decided to stop the treatments. 

Goodwin died April 20 at age 82. He will be remembered by his friends, family, colleagues and students for his service to Duke University and his kind and generous nature.

“When you live a life like that as a scholar, your thoughts are always there and will continue to impact and affect people,” said Goodwin’s former student Ibanca Anand, Trinity ‘17. “That's just powerful to know. He's not truly gone. He'll continue on through all the work he's done and all the people he's affected."

Paul Dudenhefer, another one of Goodwin’s colleagues and assistant director of the EcoTeach Writing Program in the department of economics, said that he admired Goodwin for knowing how to live life well, adding that he lived a "full life."

“That's probably the thing that I most admire about him was he—more than anybody else I know—really knew how to live a life and knew how to live a life responsibly,” Dudenhefer said. “That included preparing for leaving his life. A week before he died, [his wife] Nancy emailed me to tell me that Craufurd has four library books in his office that he wants me to return, so even at the very end, he was being responsible.”

‘He cared deeply about this place’

A native of Montreal, Canada, Goodwin received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1958. During his professional career at Duke, Goodwin had served as dean of the Graduate School and the Fuqua School of Business Administration, advisor to the Graduate and Professional Student Council, university secretary and vice provost of international studies, among other roles.

E. Roy Weintraub, professor emeritus of economics, said that Goodwin also had connections to Duke through his family members.

“His loyalty to the institution was quite real,” Weintraub added. “He had some opportunities to go elsewhere for high administrative posts, but he stayed. He cared deeply about this place.”

In addition to his loyalty, Weintraub said that Goodwin was “wise, calm and judicious,” and was therefore suited to positions of responsibility. For instance, in 1968, after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Duke students marched three miles to President Douglas Knight’s house with a list of demands. Weintraub noted that the chaos caused Knight to have “a nervous breakdown” and he became “incommunicado,” so a group of senior faculty members—including Goodwin—“ran the University” for a short period of time.

“Goodwin was one of those running the University as a group who had long-term Duke connections and were highly respected by the faculty and members of the Board of Trustees,” Weintraub said. “They ran the University until Terry Sanford was selected by the Board of Trustees to become the incoming president. It's a pretty good example of good judgment.”

‘In terms of students, his impact was immense’

Many of his colleagues said that Goodwin took a real interest in the lives of students, which made him a popular professor. Weintraub—noting Goodwin’s high rating on RateMyProfessors.com—simply said that “students loved him.”

Caldwell added that he would frequently see Goodwin’s old students stop by his office to reconnect with their former professor.

“I certainly know in terms of students, his impact was immense,” Caldwell said. “People who had graduated 20 years ago—when they came back to campus, if they had him in a class, they would come by and they would chat. He would get emails and testimonials basically from students over and over again. I think he was just a really good teacher.”

One student who was deeply impact by Goodwin was Anand who took his “History of Economic Thought” course elective during the spring of her sophomore year. At first, Anand said that she was intimidated by his expectations for the class, but Goodwin’s accessibility outside of class and kind-hearted nature appeased her initial anxiety.

For Anand, Goodwin shaped her academic experience. Coming to Duke, she thought she would pursue business but also had a strong interest in literature. Goodwin’s class allowed Anand to explore the intersectionality of her passions and what that could mean for her professionally.

“His class was really the first time it hit me that I care about learning and reading and writing so much,” Anand said. “I want to grow and be a professor. Basically, I would love to live the kind of life he lived.”

Anand added that Goodwin’s support was key for her to believe that she could achieve her academic and professional goals.

“For someone like me in the class, who's a woman and a person of color, questioning can I be a part of this conversation, is this a field that is open for me? Will I be accepted here?” she said. “He, never once, made people feel like they didn't belong in that classroom and they didn't belong in this field.”

‘The preeminent historian of economics in the world’

Goodwin studied the history of economics and taught several courses at Duke related to economic history. Caldwell said that Goodwin’s classes put economics in perspective for students by tracing its history.

“He'd go all the way back to the Greeks through the 20th century, so people like Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes—these are the ideas about how the economy works or doesn't work that he would trace,” Caldwell said. “It really helps you understand current economics better to see its history, its development.”

Goodwin was also the founding member of the journal “History of Political Economy,” which he also edited, and the Center for the History of Political Economy. Weintraub explained that the journal gave academics working in the field of political economy a platform unlike any other.

“[Goodwin] is the preeminent historian of economics in the world,” Weintraub said. “He created in the field of the history of economics a different kind of way of thinking. He was, early, interested in how economics ideas got into the public sphere.”

Kevin Hoover, professor of economics and philosophy, noted that Goodwin was a “generous” academic.

“He was a very generous person—very generous with his time, very generous intellectually with considering other people's ideas, trying to promote their work,” Hoover said. “In that sense, for an academic, [he was] very kind in a way that matters a lot to academics.”

‘Being a responsible, good citizen’

Hoover added that Goodwin was “very publicly minded.” Noting Goodwin’s interest in politics and government, Dudenhefer explained that Goodwin would have been “horrified” by today’s politics.

“I'm pretty confident in saying that he would be horrified by what's going in Washington,” Dudenhefer said. “He comes from a very leftist, almost socialist background. He very much believes that the point of government was to help everyone lead a better life and that we're all in this grand civic project together. He was very turned awayin many ways by the 'rational self-interested actor.'"

Dudenhefer added that Goodwin saw participation in civic life as an important responsibility. He also noted that Goodwin was on the Orange County Planning Board for many years.

“He was a scholar and an academic who believed that a scholar and an academic have a responsibility to act in the world and to put their knowledge to good use, which is not the typical academic way,” Dudenhefer said. "He felt very strongly about being a responsible, good citizen that participated in public affairs. He was very big on public sector and the role of government in society.”


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