March 30, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 13

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    Whisler researched impact of computers on business

    Thomas Lee Whisler, Professor of Business Policy in the Graduate School of Business and one of the early researchers to study how computers impact businesses, died Monday, Feb. 6. He was 85. Whisler, who was on the GSB faculty from 1953 to 1990, also was Director of Research for the Graduate School of Business.

    Among his research books are Management Organization and the Computer (Free Press, 1960) with George Shultz; The Impact of Computers on Organizations (Praeger, 1970), and Rules of the Game: Inside the Corporate Boardroom (Dow-Jones-Irwin, 1983).

    After receiving an M.B.A. and Ph.D. from the University, Whisler spent five years on the faculty at the University of Missouri. He then returned to Chicago in 1953 and began a 37-year tenure teaching business policy to M.B.A. students. His research interests also included performance appraisal systems, corporate governance and issues related to boards of directors, and governance of non-profit organizations.

    Whisler served as a member of the board of directors of the University Library, the Golden Rule Insurance Co., Fulghum Industries and Woodlawn Hospital in Chicago.

    He was an instructor and consultant with the National Institute for Management Development, Cairo, Egypt, during the summers of 1960, 1961 and 1963, and he was a consultant to the Center for Productivity Study and Research at the University of Ghent in Belgium during 1968 and 1969.

    He also was a veteran of World War II, having served four years with the Navy in the Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Monterey.

    Whisler was a self-taught musician who mastered the clarinet, piano, banjo and guitar. He also composed music and performed as part of a four-person singing group that made appearances in Chicago’s southern suburbs.

    “Although Tom was truly a Renaissance man with broad interests, first and foremost he was a very committed teacher,” said Harry Davis, a colleague of Whisler’s on the GSB faculty and a member of the singing group. “He was devoted to his students and he supported them in their pursuit of business careers,” said Davis, the Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management.

    For 17 years, the Whislers owned a vacation home in Glen Arbor, Mich., with their primary residence in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, where they lived until 2005 before moving to Highland Park, Ill.

    In addition to his wife, Judith, Whisler’s four children and seven grandchildren also survive him.

    Children from his first marriage to Ann Whisler are John of Portland, Ore., and Barbara Kwiecinski of Wheaton, Ill. His stepchildren from his marriage to Judith Whisler are Julia Hernandez of Chicago and Marissa Kalman of Glencoe, Ill. His grandchildren are Robin Kwiecinski; triplets Patrice, Jackie and Kevin Kwiecinski; Emma Whisler; Eliana Kalman; and Ava Kalman.