Dr. Larry Busch, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, has died at age 74

January 3, 2020 - Karessa Weir

With close family by his side, Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Busch, longtime University Distinguished Professor of Sociology, passed away in the evening of Saturday December 28, 2019 from long-term illness.

Dr. Busch was “tremendously positively influential in the development of the department in the 1990s and 2000s, and in the development of a large number of graduate students and faculty colleagues,” said associate professor emeritus of sociology Dr. Craig Harris.

Two days before his death, Dr. Busch wrote:

“I have lived a wonderful life.  Karen and I have had 53 years of marriage that has been filled with love, deep respect, excellent communication and lots of sharing.  We have two loving daughters who married good men, and have produced four super grandchildren, who have given us a fun-filled retirement.  Additionally, I have had an exceptional career, with so many of you participating in it along the way.  As you know, I have loved the intellectual discussions that have brought me your ideas, arguments, feedback and collaborations.  I have really valued our times together.  My career would not have been so enriched with all the honors I have received without your participation.  Thank you for all the moments that have made my life an excellent one.”

Born in New York, NY, Dr. Busch earned his BA in History from Hofstra University in 1965, before completing two stints in the Peace Corps—first in Guinea and then in Togo.  He went on to earn his PhD in Development Sociology from Cornell University in 1974.  After rising through the academic ranks in the Department of Sociology at the University of Kentucky, Larry joined the MSU faculty as a professor in the Department of Sociology in January 1990.  During his 27 years at MSU, he was the Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Standards in Society (formerly the Institute for Food and Agricultural Standards), and he held appointments in several prestigious universities and institutes around the world.

Dr. Busch was named University Distinguished Professor of Sociology at MSU in 1997.  He published 15 books, 95 journal articles, and 62 chapters in edited volumes.  A Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1993, Larry served as President of the Rural Sociological Society and of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society and earned prestigious honors from scholarly academies around the world—a testament to his global intellectual influence.

Dr. Busch's interests included the use of standards in public and private policy making, biotechnology and nanotechnology policy, agricultural science and technology policy, higher education in agriculture, public participation in policy processes, and the consequences of neoliberal policies for democratic governance.

Upon learning of Dr. Busch’s passing, MSU Sociology Professor and Chairperson Aaron M. McCright noted:

“Larry was a formidable science studies scholar, and he played a central role in developing a scientific approach to understanding standards in contemporary society.  As renowned as he was, he was always humble and generous with his time—especially with junior faculty and graduate students.  I will most fondly remember Larry’s dry wit and cerebral humor.  He could just as easily have been in Monty Python as been a professional sociologist.  He will always remain a cherished member of our department.”

He is survived by his wife Karen of 53 years, two daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren.

A celebration of life open house will be held for Dr. Busch in Ann Arbor on Jan. 26.  For more information on the event and ways to share your condolences, please go to: https://www.frazerfunerals.com/obituaries/Lawrence-Larry-Michael-Busch?obId=10226473#/celebrationWall

 In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations go to the Lawrence Busch Graduate Student Research Award from the Rural Sociological Society.

Lawrence Busch is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University. At the Neoliberalism and Public Higher Education conference at MSU's Kellogg Center on March 27, 2015, hosted by the Julian Samora Research Institute. Video by Bonnie Bucqueroux.