David Bruce, who is retiring after more than 33 years in the University System of Georgia, received a heartfelt farewell from colleagues and students Dec. 5 during a luncheon held at the Rialto Center of the Arts downtown.
Daniel C. Bello, director of the Institute of International Business at the Robinson College of Business, traced Dr. Bruce’s career, which witnessed Atlanta’s growth as a global business center since the mid -980s when he assumed the position as director of the state university system’s International Business Council.
In 1991 he became the academic director of the Regents’ Global Center established by the university system where he promoted the internationalization of its 34 institutions of higher education and witnessed the growth of foreign direct investment into the state, the increasing presence of global Fortune 500 companies, the development of the state’s ethnic communities. He also encouraged programs to improve the quality of workforce training.
Following a four-year stint at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he was in charge of international program development at the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, he moved to Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business where he taught from 1999 until his recent retirement at the Institute of International Business.
Dr. Bello read from several student reviews praising Dr. Bruce as a teacher and scholar, though one student mentioned that he didn’t always understand Dr. Bruce’s jokes, only because he wasn’t familiar enough with his professor’s wide grasp of international political and economic affairs.
A Latin American expert, who as a Fulbright scholar conducted field research throughout Central and South America on the regional impact of the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America, Dr. Bruce also lectured throughout the region on behalf of the U.S. Information Agency and conducted executive education courses in Asia and Europe.
In addition to Georgia State and the Georgia Tech, he taught at the Caucasus Business School in Tbilisi, the Republic of Georgia; the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the University of San Francisco, Olivet College and the University of Michigan.
Besides his academic achievements, he remained involved in Georgia’s institutions promoting the state’s international business and cultural ties, having served as chairman of the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, president of the Georgia committee of the Partners of the Americas, which coordinates Georgia’s relations with its Brazilian sister state, Pernambuco. Argentina honored him as a Knight of the Order of May.
He was an active member of the Global Commerce Council of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the U.S. Commerce Department’s District Export Council.
Dr. Bruce followed closely Atlanta’s growth as an international business center and its bid in the mid-1990s to become the headquarters of a Free Trade Area of the Americas.
With city and state leaders involved in the push, he encouraged the effort but remained cautious if not skeptical.
“If the headquarters eventually ends up in a Latin America or Caribbean country, the impact for Atlanta will be the same. As trade increases Atlanta will get its share,” he wrote in a 2004 essay.
He added that in view of the strengthening of anti-globalization movements throughout the region and the emergence of leftist governments, the chances lessened for an FTAA ever coming to life.
In this regard he was correct, but he maintained his confidence in future trends toward openness.
“The key decision is that trade in the Western Hemisphere will continue to increase dramatically. With or without the FTAA and independent of its headquarters location, Atlanta will be more of a major player in global commerce in the next decade.”
Right up to his last day on campus, he remained a supporter of free trade.
“I can’t imagine a president of the United States who didn’t agree on free trade,” he said in his farewell comments. In 2003, he wrote, “The experiences of both the ‘Asian Miracle’ and the ‘New South’ in the United States indicate that openness and encouragement of competition rather than protection yield the greatest results.”
In his 2003 essay, he emphasized that the U.S. South’s future would depend on upgrading its education systems from elementary schools through its universities for “upscale, technology-intensive” industries and to be competent in export markets.
His fellow faculty members including Karen Loch, Pedro Carrillo, Evaristo Fernando Doria, and Jacobus Boers, reminisced about their shared experiences and underscored their respect for Dr. Bruce and the strength of their friendships. Professors Bruce, Carrillo and Doria have been widely known as the “three amigos.”
The “three amigos” even authored a book together titled “OASIS – In Search of Extraordinary Business Growth Overseas” in which they underscore the challenges Asia will face due to water scarcity and provide a blueprint for Chinese and Brazilian entrepreneurs to work together to take advantage of Brazil’a extensive water resources.
In his comments, Mr. Doria described how he had been persuaded by Dr. Bruce to consider teaching at the Robinson College while the two sat next to each other by chance on a flight to Brazil. Mr. Doria at the time was a marketing executive for a multinational company, but couldn’t resist pursuing another career path.
Mr. Boers spoke of Dr. Bruce’s sincere appreciation for the school’s subject matter and his grasp of the material.
George Greenidge Jr., a PhD candidate, was equally grateful for Dr. Bruce’s presence at the college and for the advice that he received from him.
Before the gathering ended, Dr. Bruce fetched a guitar, which he said he had acquired in Chile from its maker who had used 100-year-old wood to create it. He sang lyrics he personally wrote to the tune of “Route 66” as an invitation for the attendees to visit him in California once he has settled in Monterrey.