The Clark community was saddened last week to learn of the death of Gary Chaison, professor emeritus in the School of Management, who passed away on February 17 at his home in Florida.
Chaison joined Clark University faculty in 1981 after teaching at SUNY Buffalo State College — where he earned his Ph.D. in 1972 — and Baruch College, the University of New Brunswick, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He was an expert in industrial labor relations, collective bargaining, and unions, and taught courses on those topics as well as human resource management and labor-management relations, discrimination in employment, and the contemporary workplace.
During his time at Clark, Chaison authored or co-authored multiple books about unions, including “Unions and Legitimacy,” written with his School of Management colleague Barbara Bigelow.
“Gary Chaison was a delightful colleague,” says SOM Professor Laura Graves. “His informal manner belied his status in the field and created a friendly and welcoming manner at SOM.” He also served as a mentor to new faculty, she says, guiding them through the process of tenure and promotion and spending hours preparing documents of support.
Donna Gallo, SOM teaching professor, says that Chaison’s encouragement made it possible for her to finish her doctoral dissertation. “It was specific, thoughtful, and personalized encouragement that truly made a difference in my life,” she says. “I know he did this for others as well.”
Chaison was a highly sought-after source for members of the media, frequently appearing in Associated Press stories and articles in other top news outlets like NPR, The New York Times, and the Washington Post.
In 2005, the Colleges of Worcester Consortium (now the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts) highlighted Chaison’s extraordinary media influence, noting that a single article in which he was quoted had a combined circulation of more than 9.2 million, and that his quotes about a Verizon strike were picked up by more than 90 news outlets nationwide.
Angela Bazydlo, media relations manager at Clark, worked with Chaison for more than 20 years and considered him a good friend. “Gary made my job easy. Instead of my pitching his expertise to media, reporters would flock to him; he would merely inform me when comments from one of his frequent conversations with national and international business journalists would air or publish. He was king of the sound bite.”
“Gary was in the office next to mine for over 14 years and I considered him a good friend and colleague in that order,” says Andrea Aiello, associate dean for academic and student services at SOM. “He would always say hello and ask how I was doing and how my family was — he genuinely cared. When it came to students it was the same. He would take his advising appointments very seriously, never rushing students.”
Chaison is also being remembered as a gourmet cook who was as passionate about his successes in the kitchen as he was about his accomplishments in the classroom. “He loved to cook and found great joy in walking around the supermarket picking out only the best,” Gallo says.
Chaison is survived by his wife of 50 years, Joanne.