By: Justin Worthing ~Staff Writer~
The Xavier community mourned the loss of economics professor and former Williams College of Business (WCB) Dean Dr. Michael Webb. Webb died on Feb. 1 at age 62 after a prolonged battle with cancer.
Originally from Texas, Webb taught at the University of Kentucky before coming to Xavier in 1997. After serving as the WCB Dean from 1997 to 2003, he worked as the chair of Xavier’s economics department before stepping down in 2010 for health reasons.
According to Associate Professor of economics Dr. Hasan Faruq, Webb taught courses in micro/macroeconomics, international business and development and manegerial economics, among others, at Xavier.
Webb also played a role in assessing the WCB’s academic goals and developing the First Year Seminar for incoming first-years, according to assistant professors of economics Drs. Matthew and Bree Lang. Xavier will implement the First Year Seminars starting Fall 2015.
Faculty remember Webb for his positive attitude, his commitment to his students, his friendly demeanor, his wisdom and his willingness to advise other professors.
“Mike was the most optimistic person I’ve ever met,” Bree Lang said. “During Fall 2014, Mike fell (and) broke a bone in his back. He asked me to fill in while he healed and he told me over email that he expected to be back in about a week. I didn’t believe him (he had a broken back) and I told his class that he probably wouldn’t be back for a while.”
“I taught the class for a week and the following weekend, he sent me an email saying that he was ready to teach on Monday and he felt great. I was shocked. The next day I saw him scooting through the department with his cane. He was ecstatic to be back and had as much energy as ever. That optimism was contagious. He made Xavier a happier and better place to work,” Bree Lang said.
According to Faruq, Webb often used his experiences and his interests to make economics more relatable to students.
“One incident I can think of (regarding Webb) took place when I first started teaching international business at Xavier,” Faruq said in an email. “I wanted to learn about the best way to teach students about cultural differences.
Since this was a new course for me and Dr. Webb had taught the class before, I asked him for advice. Dr. Webb suggested that I show the movie ‘Borat’ to my students. He was joking of course, but he then went online and looked up some good examples for my class.”
“I still use some of these examples in my classes today. When my students seem to like the examples provided by Dr. Webb, I am reminded of how willing he was to share his experiences with his colleagues and how much he cared about using real world examples in class for our students,” Faruq said.
“David Yi said at his memorial service last week that he was ‘wise,’” Matthew Lang said. “That is so true. I always felt that when something important came up, I always wondered, ‘what does Mike think?’ … I feel he represents what academia should be. Ultimately, everyone who knew him, knew him as a smart, genuinely good guy.”
“If I can grow into the type of educator that he was, I’ll be happy with my career,” Bree said.
Webb is survived by his wife, Dr. Shelly Webb, and his sons, Brennan and Matthew Webb. A service was held in his honor on the morning of Feb. 4 at Anderson Hills United Methodist Church.