skip to main content

Economics Professor Remembered as a Gentleman and Scholar


James Heilbrun, Ph.D., former professor of economics at Fordham University, died on April 8 at his home in New York City. He was 83.

“He was a very kind man, especially when he interviewed me for my job at Fordham,” said Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D., director of Fordham’s International Political Economy and Development Program. “After I was hired and spent some time with Jim, I soon realized that he was a wonderful colleague—a real gentleman and a real scholar.”

Economics professor Robert Brent, Ph.D., said Heilbrun was “a proper gentleman who would be involved, yet could be above all the turmoil.

“His work was comprehensive yet meticulous,” Brent continued. “He cared deeply about people and policies, and will be truly missed by all who knew him.”

Heilbrun specialized in urban economics and economics of the arts. He co-authored The Economics of Art and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2001), with Charles M. Gray, Ph.D., professor of business economics at the University of Saint Thomas. The book has been called “the first book to cover not only the economics of the fine arts and performing arts, but also public policy toward the arts at federal, state and local levels.”

“Jim Heilbrun was a gifted writer, a perceptive policy critic, and a diligent, imaginative and productive scholar,” Gray said. “His rigorous analyses employed data from a variety of sources, from the Bureau of the
Census to The New York Times.  His contributions to cultural economics were seminal, and his influence will be felt for many years to come.”

Heilbrun received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Harvard University and his doctoral degree from Columbia University. He was a devotee of the New York City Ballet for 50 years.

Heilbrun is predeceased by his wife, Carolyn G. Heilbrun. He is survived by his daughters Margaret and Emily, his son, Robert; his grandchildren Penelope Duus and Matteo Benjami; and his sister, Betty H. Benjamin. Services will be private.


Comments are closed.