Benjamin Bailar, a former dean of the Jones Graduate School of Business, died Feb. 20 in Lake Forest, Ill. He was 82.
A former postmaster general of the United States (1975-1978), Bailar came to Rice University in 1987 as the result of a search chaired by Neal Lane, who was provost at the time. From 1987 to 1997, Bailar served two terms as dean of what was then called the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Administration. He was the first to be appointed the Joe Nelson III Professor of Administration.
In a letter to the Rice community, Provost Marie Lynn Miranda noted that Bailar “strengthened the Jones School through successful faculty recruitment and fundraising.”
After a sabbatical leave during academic year 1997-98, Bailar retired in 1998.
A native of Champaign, Ill., Bailar was the son of a distinguished professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois. Bailar received a B.A. in geology from the University of Colorado and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. His undergraduate and graduate degrees were later complemented by two honorary doctorates: a Doctor of Public Administration from Monmouth College and a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
“Throughout his career, Ben was widely known as a business executive and consultant,” Miranda wrote. He held a number of corporate board positions and served on governmental and regulatory affairs committees of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He was president of Franklin Financial Corp. before he became the third dean of the Jones School.
“Although I did not know Ben, I can appreciate his decade of leadership to Rice University and his role in helping build the Jones School to become the highly ranked and respected business school that it is today,” Miranda said. “What an honor to have had such a highly esteemed business leader as a member of our Rice family. We extend our deepest condolences to his son, Ben Jr., and to his daughter, Christina.”