Schulich School of Business Professor Robert Lucas, who taught organizational behaviour and industrial relations (OBIR), died in Toronto on Feb. 17, his 65th birthday.
Prof. Lucas joined the faculty in 1980 and was a highly-respected teacher and member of the University community. In remembrance of his contributions to York University, the flags at the Keele and Glendon campuses and at the Passy Gardens Graduate Residence on the Keele campus will fly at half-mast from sunrise to sundown today.
Right: Professor Robert Lucas
Following the appointment of Dezö Horváth as dean in 1988, Lucas played a major role in reorganizing and relaunching a number of the business school’s degree programs as well as in the OBIR area.
Born in British Columbia in 1944, Prof. Lucas earned a bachelor of commerce degree with majors in marketing and psychology from the University of British Columbia. After graduating, he joined the Eaton’s department store chain and worked his way up to become a manager. He later left Eaton’s to return to UBC and earned a master’s of science in administration, specializing in organizational behaviour. In 1980, he graduated from Cornell University’s New York State School of Industrial & Labour Relations with a PhD in organizational behaviour.
After graduation, he returned to Canada to take a position at York. Throughout his career, his research interests and areas of expertise included cognitive processes in organizations; politics, subgroups and uncertainty factors in decision and policy-making; the structure and process of bargaining in organizations; innovation and technical change; and organizational information systems.
In 1988, he became an area coordinator for OBIR at the business school. Under his leadership, OBIR added promising new faculty members and an enriched OBIR PhD program. Lucas also initiated the OBIR Distinguished Scholar Series of lectures in 1989. He was a strong supporter of qualitative research, a field in which the Schulich School of Business is now considered to be a world leader.
In the face of radical changes in the environmental framework of business during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the school conducted a rigorous review of the existing MBA curriculum. The result was the launch of a new MBA for world change in 1994. At the same time Lucas was working on MBA reforms, he was asked by the dean to head York’s Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Program.
"Rob was a true academic," recalls one of his OBIR colleagues. "He was passionate in his exploration of the historical works of administrative science. He took a lively interest in engaging both students and colleagues alike in stimulating discussions about the wisdom and insights of classic management scholars."
In his personal life, Lucas was a small plane pilot and avid boater. He read widely, particularly in military history and travelled extensively in western Canada and the Yukon.
At his request, there will be a wake, but no funeral or religious service. Details will be made available in March.