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Leadership expert Bass dies at 82


Bernard M. Bass, a world-renowned expert on transformational leadership and a distinguished professor emeritus of management, died Oct. 11 of cancer at his home in Binghamton. He was 82.

Bass, author of industry bible Bass & Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership, was the founding director of the Center for Leadership Studies at Binghamton.

“It attracted a level of faculty that wanted to work with the best in the world,” said Upinder Dhillon, dean of the School of Management. “That’s what really transformed the school.”

A leading authority in the field of leadership, organizational behavior and human resource management, Bass wrote hundreds of articles and technical reports and was the founding editor of Leadership Quarterly.

Bass tackled the eternal question “Are leaders born or made?”

“It’s a bit of both,” Dhillon said, “but he showed that people can be trained to become leaders.”

Francis Yammarino, distinguished professor of management and current director of the Center for Leadership Studies, recalled Bass as an engaging scholar, one who could explain and apply his ideas to real-world situations.

“He changed the thinking in the field,” Yammarino said. “He was the No. 1 researcher in leadership studies for years and years.”

Bass earned doctoral and master’s degrees in industrial psychology and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ohio State University. He joined Binghamton’s faculty in 1977.

Bass is survived by his wife, Ruth, their four children as well as six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“He was a really sweet guy,” Ruth Bass said. “We’ve been married for 61 years. He never lost his temper.”

Bass will be remembered during a Nov. 2 get-together on campus. Details will be announced when they’re finalized.

“He sort of transformed all of us as faculty,” Dhillon said. “He’s been a mentor to large numbers of us and has catapulted the University into the ranks of the best because of his research and his efforts.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08