January 15, 1998
University Gazette


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  Lawrence Fouraker, Former Business School Dean, Dies at 74

Lawrence E. Fouraker, Dean of the Harvard Business School (HBS) from 1970 to 1980 and an early advocate of a global perspective in management education, died of viral pneumonia on Dec. 20 in Brookline. He was 74.

Fouraker joined the Business School faculty in 1961 after a decade as an economics professor at Pennsylvania State University. He quickly made his mark at HBS as an effective and highly regarded teacher in the MBA and executive education programs, while also taking leadership roles in the administration of the School's international programs and its Division of Research.

Fouraker became the sixth Dean of the School at the request of then-Harvard University President Nathan M. Pusey, as the nation and many of its universities were wracked with unrest and protest in the midst of the Vietnam War and the civil-rights movement. His only stipulation, Fouraker said at the beginning of his appointment, was that his tenure as dean be limited to 10 years. Under his guidance, the Business School community was able to discuss the important social issues of the day while maintaining a sense of goodwill and respect among students, faculty, and administration.

Many significant changes took place at the Harvard Business School during Fouraker's deanship, including sizable increases in the numbers of women and minority students; new curriculum initiatives in ethics, business and government, human resource management, and the management of small businesses; and substantial additions to the School's permanent endowment.

In addition, in a period when U.S. corporations were the center of business schools' attention, Fouraker saw the importance of an international outlook, encouraging research activities and educational programs around the world, including the establishment of an HBS program for international senior managers in Switzerland. He also encouraged HBS professors to give their advice and guidance to help create business schools abroad in cities such as Tehran and Jerusalem. "Larry Fouraker was a true visionary regarding the coming of a global economy," said HBS Dean Kim B. Clark. "He paved the way for the kind of international point of view that we regard as so essential today in educating leaders for the 21st century."

Fouraker was on the boards of many major corporations throughout his professional life, including Alcan Aluminum Ltd.; Citicorp and Citibank N.A.; General Electric Co.; the Gillette Co.; Jewel Companies, Inc.; New England Mutual Life Insurance Co.; R.H. Macy & Co., Inc.; and Texas Eastern Corp. He was also a trustee of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as president of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Among other affiliations were the Memorial Church at Harvard University; Buckingham Browne and Nichols, an independent preparatory school in Cambridge; and The Country Club in Brookline.

Commenting on Fouraker's death, former Harvard President Derek Bok said, "Larry Fouraker did much to strengthen the Harvard Business School and guide it through a period of exceptional turbulence in the University. Always willing to help, he gave much wise counsel not only to Harvard but to many other institutions."

Former HBS Dean John H. McArthur praised Fouraker's successful efforts to manage and control the School's extremely rapid growth at the time -- a process that began in the years following World War II -- by limiting the increase in the size of the faculty so as to sustain the quality and unique character of the HBS community. "Larry had to make some tough decisions in this regard," said McArthur, "and he did so with courage, conviction, and unshakable integrity. His dedication to quality and the high standards he set in everything he did strengthened the School immeasurably for all who followed in his path."

Lawrence Edward Fouraker was born in Bryan, Texas, on Oct. 28, 1923. His college years at Texas A&M University (where his father was a professor of engineering) were interrupted by service in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946. Returning to Texas A&M after his discharge, Fouraker resumed his studies. A skilled golfer since childhood, he was also captain of the golf team. He received a bachelor's degree in 1947 and a master's in 1948, both in economics.

After a year spent teaching at the University of Wyoming, Fouraker earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Colorado in 1951 before accepting a teaching position at Penn State, where he was also assistant dean for research at its College of Business Administration. In 1960 Fouraker organized the Economics Program of the National Science Foundation, serving as its acting director for several years. Before joining the Harvard faculty in 1961, he had spent a year at HBS as a Ford Foundation Fellow, studying the applications of mathematics to business decisions.

An expert on business strategy and organization, Fouraker was the author or coauthor of a number of publications and journal articles. A study (with Sidney Siegel) titled Bargaining and Group Decision-Making won the 1959 monograph prize in the social sciences from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also the recipient of several honorary degrees from institutions in this country and abroad.

Promoted to full professor at HBS in 1963, Fouraker was named the School's Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration in 1968. When he became Dean in 1970, Fouraker assumed the George Fisher Baker Professorship, an endowed chair that was then traditionally given to the Dean of the School. After stepping down as Dean in 1980, he held the Ford Professorship for another year before leaving the faculty.

Fouraker received Harvard Business School's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, in 1980. A professorship was established in his name in 1981 "in recognition of his many contributions" to HBS. He was also the recipient of several honorary degrees from institutions in this country and abroad.

Fouraker is survived by his wife of 48 years, Patricia Orr Fouraker of Brookline; a son, Lawrence A. Fouraker, of Intervale, N.H.; a daughter, Senter E. Jones of Cambridge; and two grandchildren.

Burial will be private. A memorial service will be held at the Memorial Church on Friday, Feb. 20, at 2 p.m.


Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College