February 14, 2014

CGU mourns the loss of economics Professor Thomas Borcherding

Thomas Borcherding, a passionate professor who has taught economics at Claremont Graduate University for the past three decades, died on Feb. 13.

Thomas BorcherdingBorcherding, who insisted that everyone call him Tom B, came to CGU in 1983. He was a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in Canada for six years prior. During his time at Simon Fraser, he also was a visiting research scholar at the Hoover Institution, and a visiting professor of law and economics at the University of Toronto. Earlier in his career, he was an associate professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and an assistant professor at the University of Washington.

He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1961, and his PhD from Duke University in 1966, when he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

A member of the Division of Politics and Economics in CGU’s School of Social Science, Policy, and Evaluation, Borcherding focused his research on microeconomics, public choice, property rights, exchange, and transaction costs, politics and public choice, and sociological economics. He had a long-term involvement with increasing levels of responsibility on the journal Economic Inquiry, culminating from 1993 to 1997 as senior editor of the publication. He served as an Avery Fellow at the Claremont Colleges from 1988 to 1997, and as chair or co-chair of the Department of Economics at CGU from 1991 to 1994, and again in 2000, and 2002 to 2003. Borcherding was widely published and the recipient of numerous awards.

“This is a deeply felt and profound loss for our school,” said Stewart Donaldson, dean of the School of Social Science, Policy and Evaluation. “Tom was such a powerful presence. He was respected by everyone in his field, and was held in great affection by his colleagues on our faculty.”

His colleagues remember him as the spirit of the economics program, with a passion for the subject that he shared with them and his students. He enriched and expanded the economics curriculum with broader perspectives from history, political science, sociology, and philosophy. He will be remembered for the informal lunches he organized for students and colleagues to discuss wide-ranging topics. These gatherings were well remembered by his students long after graduating from the program; many of them saying these opportunities to exchange ideas were one of the highlights of the school year.

“Economics courses have a reputation for being dry, but not when Tom B taught them,” said Professor Heather Campbell, chair of the Department of Politics and Policy, and chair of economics. “He loved economics, and all the social sciences beyond, and his never-flagging excitement and interest were contagious. His students loved him, and he was so dedicated to them.”

Details about services are forthcoming.

Those who knew and cared for Borcherding as a friend, colleague, or mentor and feel the need to talk to someone can consult one of the resources the Claremont Colleges make available for grief counseling. Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services (MCAPS) offers brief therapy. To schedule an appointment, call 909-621-8202. After hours, the MCAPS on-call therapist may be reached by calling Campus Safety at 909-621-8202. Faculty and staff members can also contact the Employee Assistance Program at (800) 234-5465.