ForeverMissed

This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, Bruce Wallin, 63, born on April 14, 1948 and passed away on December 29, 2011. We will remember him forever.

Posted by Just Liz on December 29, 2012
Thanks for the anniversary reminder, website. Bruce is well-remembered and much missed in Jamaica Plain, especially in the Forest Hills neighborhood and at Doyle's. I especially missed the opportunity for robust debate with him during the election.  It's a rare friend who can argue like Bruce - we miss him.
Posted by Mary Duffy on December 29, 2012
As a fellow soccer parent, I remember Bruce from the soccer field, sitting in his blue fold up chair and exchanging observations about the game. It was obvious how much he loved watching Eva play. We had a nice toast to him the other night with Eva and Vicky and friends at Doyle's. Bruce is very much alive in the hearts of all his family and friends.
Posted by Doug Snow on October 3, 2012
My relationship with Bruce was professional. As a partner in research, I admired his ability to cut through the political "noise" that surrounds budgeting. He could get straight to the truth of the matter, and he did it with humor and dedication. Not only am I better at what I do because of Bruce, I also enjoy it more. Thanks, Bruce. I will miss you.
Posted by Michael Cantor on May 24, 2012
I know it's so late at this point, but I just found out about Bruce's passing. Professor Wallin was a huge inspiration. His classes at Northeastern changed my life and set me on my course in the world. He will always be the fondest part of my college memories. The world is a dimmer place without his light in the darkness.
Posted by Javier Villafuerte on January 23, 2012
Bruce was the Dad on my daughter soccer team from JP I always will remember him for trying to find out how Eva did at the games from my point of view. He liked to listen to my opinion on how I saw the game.
We were suppose to have a beer at Doyles but we postpone it went he got sick, I will see you in heaven and have that beer then. Don't worry I will keep coaching Eva.
Posted by Nick Beek on January 17, 2012
It was an honor to sit in the classroom of Professor Wallin and I was also honored to have the opportunity to be part of his Dialogue in Japan. Professor Wallin was not only a legendary professor but also a good person --and you could tell this from a mile away. Professor Wallin was, and still is, the kind of person you could always learn something from.
Posted by Alyssa Bissonnette on January 14, 2012
I met Bruce while working as a PT student from Northeastern at Spaulding. Bruce always had such a presence about him and definitely taught me some things while I was there. I am saddened to read of his passing and wish his family peace in this difficult time. You will definitely be remembered Bruce, especially by all of us at Northeastern.
Posted by Jonah Feldman on January 8, 2012
I met Bruce while working with him at Spaulding Rehab Hospital in Boston. He was such a vibrant, spirited guy and I'm deeply saddened by the news of his passing. Even when he was in pain due to his recent surgeries, he maintained a stoic perseverance to continue working with physical therapy and always kept a quick wit and sense of humor. I'll miss you my man! May you rest in peace...
Posted by Kirsten Rodine Hardy on January 5, 2012
Bruce was a wonderful colleague & teacher. We shared funny stories about Berkeley & Prague. I attended one of his classes on Budgets and he had all the students' attention, as he told great stories & asked tough questions. Yet, he was happiest when he talked about his daughters, Anne and Eva. He was so proud of them and loved them deeply - may you find peace & joy remembering his smile.
Posted by Judith Evanko on January 5, 2012
I knew Mr Wallin while he was a patient at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. No matter how difficult the day was for him, he always had the time to talk and share stories about his children. His spirit was always bright and that is how I will remember him.
Posted by Joan Maze Miles on January 3, 2012
Though I am heartbroken at learning the sudden news of Bruce, I am glad to hear Steve Finau say that he closed the phone laughing with him not too long ago --- it makes me glad to picture him with his adored daughters and family around him. Bruce was outstanding in so many ways. I think he would be especially happy to hear all of the wonderful messages from his many students.
Posted by Steve Montgomery on January 3, 2012
While a rugby pitch has oft proven to be a fertile ground for new friendships, Bruce was an instant "cool dude" when he dropped into Berkeley. Subsequently, I was lucky that our career/lives arced twice in different parts of the country -- we were in Chicago when Bruce was at Wisconsin, and I was later in NYC when he'd moved to Northeastern. Fun visits, great memories of laugh+intellect
Posted by Sitiveni Finau on January 2, 2012
Bruce was my good rugby mate at Berkeley where we had many laughs and good memories. I spoke to Bruce on the phone four or five weeks ago when he was about to go into surgery. He proudly put his daughter on (??) and then we closed the phone laughing. Love to Vickie and daughters.
Posted by Heather Stringfield on January 1, 2012
I loved how he would tell me stories and when you guys took us out while you were here visiting. And how he made me believe I was the only one who knew he squinted his eye when he was telling lies. He was very funny and kind and loving and hope he is in peace and happy. I love you Bruce

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Just Liz on December 29, 2012
Thanks for the anniversary reminder, website. Bruce is well-remembered and much missed in Jamaica Plain, especially in the Forest Hills neighborhood and at Doyle's. I especially missed the opportunity for robust debate with him during the election.  It's a rare friend who can argue like Bruce - we miss him.
Posted by Mary Duffy on December 29, 2012
As a fellow soccer parent, I remember Bruce from the soccer field, sitting in his blue fold up chair and exchanging observations about the game. It was obvious how much he loved watching Eva play. We had a nice toast to him the other night with Eva and Vicky and friends at Doyle's. Bruce is very much alive in the hearts of all his family and friends.
Posted by Doug Snow on October 3, 2012
My relationship with Bruce was professional. As a partner in research, I admired his ability to cut through the political "noise" that surrounds budgeting. He could get straight to the truth of the matter, and he did it with humor and dedication. Not only am I better at what I do because of Bruce, I also enjoy it more. Thanks, Bruce. I will miss you.
his Life

Bruce's Teaching Philosophy Statement

Statement of Teaching Philosophy
Bruce A. Wallin   

My philosophy of teaching involves having students both learn and learn how to think. I want them to learn the facts pertaining to topics relevant to the area of study, but equally important acquire the ability to conceptualize, analyze, and form judgements based on the application of principles to practice – in short, to think. 



I accomplish this through the composition of my lectures, exams and in-class activities – and also my enthusiasm for the subject matter and for teaching itself, as I believe that if I am enthusiastic, it is difficult for the students to not be engaged. My lectures on a topic usually begin with its factual basis, often followed by a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of that institution, process, political arrangement, or policy. I then try to present potential reforms, usually offering a spectrum from mild to radical. I rarely reveal my preference, neither in discussing strengths and weaknesses or reforms, seeking to stimulate student analysis free of the influence of my own political views.



My examinations generally follow this same path. They first include a factual portion, identifying and explaining the significance of various concepts relating to and elements of the topic at hand. The essays then challenge the student to form some opinions of his or her own, both at the conceptual and practical or applied level. 



On the conceptual side, for example, I may ask the American Government students (POLU150) their opinion on the relationship between the experience of the framers of the Constitution and the principles in the document they produced, and call for some judgment as to whether this was beneficial or not, while a more “applied” question might have them strategize on how to gain Congressional passage of a particular bill. An exam in the budgeting class (POLU335) might ask them to present and analyze reforms of the federal budget process. I find that this opportunity to apply what they have studied to contemporary issues energizes students. 



I also believe in challenging students, both in class and on examinations. In class I will frequently call on students. I find that this keeps their minds engaged, and is a response to Leonard’s warning “the lecture system is the best way to get information from the professor’s notebook to the student’s notebook without touching the student’s mind.



I am very involved in my profession, regularly attending and presenting papers at two conferences each year. I constantly update the material the students read so that they will be reviewing the most recent analyses of current issues. I use material I have come across at the conferences I attend, through listservs that I have joined, and by constantly reviewing the websites of the organizations most relevant to my courses, such as those of the Congressional Budget Office, the Rockefeller Institute, the National League of Cities, the Congressional Research Service, etc. The reading for my current budgeting course includes analyses that were just released in January, for example. In their evaluations, students often comment on how much I know and have shared about issues that are currently under consideration by government, whether at the federal, state, or local level.



To promote a collegial teaching environment, I often include in the reading packet of my upper division course or post on Blackboard my most recent conference papers, and present them in class. This gives the students the opportunity to become familiar with and comment on their professor’s current research. Linking teaching and my research is important to my approach to instruction, as I find it lowers the barrier between student and teacher. 



My examinations are very demanding, and I let them know this in advance by giving them a sample answer or two. My approach to grading is to outline a perfect answer, and then hold each student to it. This ensures equity in grading, which is important to me. I expect the students to not just tell me something about the topic, but everything they can, emphasizing its significance. I curve the results of the exam, allowing me to push the best students while not overly penalizing those with perhaps less adequate preparation. 



I also try to be sensitive to the fear some students have to ask questions in lecture. Each week in my budgeting class, which deals with very complex issues, I have every student turn in a piece of paper, without their name on it, listing any items that need clarification. I then respond to them.



What I have found to really energize students is taking ownership of some part of the course. I have become a firm believer in experiential learning, and in particular the use of simulations. Instead of merely teaching my introductory course about public opinion polls, I conduct one using the class as the sample. Most importantly, several years ago I began using federal deficit reduction simulations in my budgeting classes, using four class sessions at the undergraduate level. They have been so successful that I have incorporated a simplified version into my introductory American government class. The upper-division and graduate versions make extensive use of Blackboard.



It is my opinion that one best learns the difficulty of making policy if he or she lives it, if only for a day or two. The federal budget looks easy to cut until you approach it from the perspective of a particular member of Congress, who has his or her own values, a particular constituency, and reelection concerns. Students have consistently reported the simulation to be one of the most interesting aspects of the course, a perfect complement to the readings and classroom discussions. I have presented the simulation at conferences on teaching and learning, and published it in a political science journal.



In my upper-division and graduate classes I have also moved away from traditional research papers to group PowerPoint presentations. PowerPoint has become the staple of most meetings in the post-college world, and working in groups on research again teaches the students skills s/he might not otherwise learn, such as division of labor, coordination, and compromise.



While I am extremely proud of the overall ranking of my effectiveness given in student evaluations, I am as proud of the fact that students consistently rank my course higher than comparable means in level of difficulty, the amount they learn, and the benefit of in-class activities.



I have come to believe so strongly in experiential learning that I have extended it outside the classroom in my courses. One year several members of my budgeting class volunteered to present and help run a version of the deficit reduction simulation for the Academy of Public Service at Dorchester High School in Boston. I sometimes offer the services of my upper-division and graduate students to conduct research for Boston city councilors, with students using their work to fulfill a course’s research requirement.

Most recently I felt strongly about involving my students in experiential education abroad, and developed a Dialogue of Civilizations program to Japan for Summer I in 2008 that compared public policy in the US and Japan, and allowed a great deal of interaction between our students and those of Meiji University.



As a more detailed example of how I teach, let me outline how I approach my undergraduate class on The Politics of Budgeting and Taxation (POLU335). Students often enter this course with a sense of dread. Therefore my first objective is to get students interested in the topic by conveying its importance. I want them to understand that next to its constitution, the budget is the most important document of any government, that it is a statement of priorities, a plan of action, and that it represents societal compromises among competing interests. If they learn that little can be accomplished without financial support, they begin to see the significance of studying budgets. I want them to understand that there is no more fundamental political question than who gives and who gets, who pays (taxes) and who receives (services).



Once engaged, I want them to learn the budgetary processes, politics, and policy issues at the federal, state, and local levels of government, and the institutions and actors that shape them. I expect them to become familiar with concepts that may have previously seemed complex to them, such as the incidence and progressivity of various tax instruments. I also want them to formulate their own opinions about the budgetary process itself, and how it relates to the proper (or not) determination of the role of government in society, and to evaluate reforms. As noted, the federal deficit reduction simulation is also a critical element of the course. 



I don’t expect each and every student to become a budget nerd by the end of the course (although some do). I do, however, aim to have them understand the importance of budgets and the manner in which we develop them, the importance of institutions and politics in their development, and the potential for, but difficulty of, reform.



In sum, as a professor of politics I try to prepare students by giving them both the intellectual tools and the passion to succeed in that world should they so choose (after taking my American Government course, one of my students ran for the State legislature in New Hampshire and won, becoming the youngest state lawmaker in the nation.) Many of my budgeting students have gone on to careers in government in a subject area they couldn’t have imagined when they enrolled in my class. And for those that do not choose public service as a vocation, they will at least leave Northeastern better informed about the political and policy issues of the day. When my head hits the pillow at night, I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to help accomplish this.

Recent stories

Northeastern Remembers Bruce

Shared by Vickie Wallin on January 10, 2012

Northeastern University News, January 10, 2012

For some, Bruce Wallin was a man who made topics such as American government and budgeting “come to life” in the classroom. For others, he was a man with an infectious laugh, a passion for discussing politics or a reputation for “calling it like he sees it.”

But for all who knew him, Wallin was a passionate teacher who both demanded a great deal from his students and cared deeply about them — as he did his colleagues, friends and family.

The Northeastern University community is remembering Wallin, associate professor of political science, who passed away on Dec. 29 after a short battle with cancer. A memorial service for the Northeastern community will be held Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 3:30 p.m. in the Curry Student Center Ballroom.

Since joining the faculty in 1990, Wallin made an enormous impact on the university. He instructed hundreds of students in the fields of American politics, public finance and budgeting, and his dedication to the craft of teaching — combined with his vibrant personality — made his classes legendary. Twice, he was recognized by his students and colleagues with the university's Excellence in Teaching Award.

“Bruce always put students first,” said Chris Bosso, professor and associate dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. “He cared deeply about their success, and he poured immense energy and time into ensuring that his students learned what he felt they needed to know to thrive in their careers, and as people.”

Wallin worked with students each year to apply for the Truman Scholarship — a prestigious honor recognizing students with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit sector or other public service. He also led student trips to Japan and was instrumental in setting up a partnership with Meiji University in Tokyo. 

Wallin’s scholarship also earned praise in academic and public affairs circles. His book on federal revenue sharing received an award from the American Political Science Association, and he authored insightful studies on government finance for the Brookings Institution and Twentieth Century Fund. 

Northeastern political science professor and close friend John Portz gave the eulogy at Wallin’s funeral service in Boston last week. Portz, who worked as his teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said teaching was Wallin’s true calling in life. 

“Bruce touched the lives of so many students, not only when they were in his classroom, but well beyond,” he said. “Bruce kept in touch with so many students. He wanted them to succeed.”

He shared many of Wallin’s quotes, including: “If there is no wind, row.”

“Bruce would help students ‘to row,’ but he knew they needed to reach those heights with their own efforts,” he said.

One of those students is doctoral candidate Chris Chanyasulkit. She also worked as Wallin’s teaching assistant for three semesters, and recalled how he could make any topic interesting in class. Chanyasulkit called him a mentor, noting how he not only helped her secure an internship in U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s office but also regularly talked about the importance of family.

“He was so much more to me than just a teacher or professor. He was a friend,” said Chanyasulkit.

John Tobin, Northeastern’s vice president of city and community relations and a former Boston city councilor, recalled that when he first began reaching out to Jamaica Plain residents in his district while running for office as a 24-year-old, Wallin was one of the first people to call him back.

They ultimately formed a strong bond that extended beyond Tobin’s office in City Hall, where several of Wallin’s students worked on co-op.

“He was a great friend and a great mentor to his students,” Tobin said. “His name will live on for a long time at Northeastern and in Boston.”


Student Stories

Shared by Annabelle Wallin on January 9, 2012
Shared by Peter Richter on January 3, 2012

Spent an hour writing some memories and then lost it while posting... (fumble fingered I guess) posting a bit of a rambling video instead....

All our love to the immediate family,

Peter Richter and Mary Rimsans