H. Bradford Westerfield ’47, professor of political science and the Damon Wells Professor Emeritus of International Studies, died Jan. 19 in Watch Hill, RI. He was 79.
During his roughly 40 years at Yale, Westerfield taught numerous future foreign-policy heavyweights, including President George W. Bush ’68, Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA director Porter Goss ’60. Also among his pupils were a number of current and former journalists, U.S. senators, a secretary of defense and two directors of the CIA.
Westerfield, who earned a reputation among his colleagues as an authority on U.S. foreign policy and intelligence agencies, taught several popular lecture courses, including a course about espionage and intelligence that students nicknamed “spies and lies.”
“He just really loved teaching — and he loved teaching undergraduates,” said his daughter, Pamela Westerfield Bingham ’85. She described her father as empowering, inspirational, open-minded and “a Yale man, true and true.”
Westerfield was born March 7, 1928 in Rome while his father, a Yale economics professor, was on sabbatical. Before enrolling in Yale College, he prepped at The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall), where he graduated at the top of his class.
At Yale, he studied political science and philosophy. He obtained his doctorate in intelligence studies at Harvard in 1952 and, the following year, joined the faculty at Harvard, where he taught until 1956.
After a year-long stint at the University of Chicago, Westerfield returned to Yale as an assistant professor in 1957. In 1965 he received tenure and was named the Damon Wells Professor of International Studies in 1985.
Westerfield was known for his hawkish views, including his belief that the United States should aggressively fight communism. He had lively debates with his friend William Sloane Coffin ’49, the Yale chaplain during the 1960s and a vociferous pacifist, but later said the Vietnam War softened his outlook. In 2004, with two of his former students as president and vice president of the United States, he spoke out against the militant foreign policy he had instilled in them.
The first class Westerfield taught at Yale was an introductory international-affairs course, which attracted hundreds of students, said his wife Carolyn Hess Westerfield ARC ’59.
“I remember vividly the days when I served as DUS of Political Science, hearing one student after another express the opinion that Professor Westerfield’s International Relations course was the one they most enjoyed,” Political Science professor Donald Green wrote in an e-mail to the News.
Westerfield’s knowledge of American intelligence and foreign policy was unmatched among academics, international relations professor Bruce Russet said.
“As a colleague, I found him often a source of wise counsel, and an extremely fine human being,” Russett wrote in an e-mail.
Westerfield is survived by his wife, daughter and son, Leland Westerfield ’90.