In Memoriam - Tom Lee

It is with heartfelt sorrow that we share the sad news that the Academy’s 63
rd President, Thomas (Tom) W. Lee, passed away Friday, June 18, 2021.

Words cannot describe our grief at losing such a servant leader within the Academy of Management. Known across academia for his contributions to both scholarship and teaching, Tom also left his indelible mark on guiding our association and developing its future leaders.

Please join us in remembering Tom’s gifted and generous spirit by sharing your own memories by clicking "Reply" in the discussion thread below.
  • 1.  Sad news

    Posted 06-22-2021 10:25
    Some of you may have heard, but Tom Lee passed away this past Friday. If you had the pleasure to know him, he was a wonderful colleague, an incredible mentor, and a great friend. I'll miss him very much. And, as Dianna Stone noted in the OB list-serv, hopefully he is "swimming with the Orcas". 

    Alex Rubenstein, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor
    University of Central Florida
    Orlando, FL

  • 2.  RE: Sad news

    Posted 06-23-2021 08:39
    Hi All,

    I am so saddened by the news of Tom Lee's passing.  I send my deepest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and students whose lives he touched over the years.  Beyond being a legendary scholar and educator, Tom also was a humble and congenial person.  For years, he served as an informal mentor to me, and he was ever willing to provide a friendly review of a manuscript if I asked him.  That amazed me how willing he was to help an Assistant Professor (at the time) who he had never met.  In that regard, I consider Tom one of the true 'gentle giants' of our field.  His legacy of groundbreaking scholarship and gentle humanity will continue to impact the Academy forever.

    With deepest sympathies,


    Patrick F. McKay, PhD
    Stanley and Franny Wang Professor of Human Resource Management
    Past Associate Editor, Personnel Psychology
    Fox School of Business
    Temple University
    1801 Liacouras Walk, Alter Hall Room 337
    Philadelphia, PA 19122
    Phone: (215) 204-7264
    Fax: (215) 204-8362

  • 3.  RE: Sad news

    Posted 06-25-2021 23:07
    My memories of Tom take me back to around 2005 or 2006, when I was Program Chair for the OB Division. I think a lot of AOM volunteers feel like I felt that year -- I was doing a big job that I'd never done before and I was worried that I'd be the volunteer that somehow "broke" the conference. Tom was in the all-AOM leadership track, and it was his job to meet with the DIG program chairs and explain our roles. Tom walked into the meeting and said he's going to quote from one of his favorite role models. In my head I groaned and thought, great, that's what I need, more pressure, hearing about the "greats" in management history. Nope, Tom's quote was from Harry Potter's Professor Dumbledore! We all laughed and heaved a collective sigh of relief. I think that moment reflects Tom's whole approach to his life and his career: be authentic, make it personal, create connections.

    Carol Kulik
    University of South Australia
    Adelaide SA

  • 4.  RE: Sad news

    Posted 06-26-2021 14:30

    My friendship with Tom Lee goes a long way back. Starting over 40 years ago with a heartfelt discussion of where he should do his doctoral studies, through our shared journey leading AOM, to the seasonal emails dissecting how the Huskies and Trojans would likely do on the gridiron. From the beginning, I knew Tom was smart, hardworking, and friendly. Seemed to always have a genuine smile on his face. In time, I gained a deep appreciation for the love and care Tom shared with Janet and Joe, his tightknit family active in his personal and professional lives. I admired Tom's spirit, optimism, and resilience, even in difficult times. I valued the kindness and warmth he gave to me. I miss Tom dearly.       

    Thomas Cummings
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles CA
    (213) 740-0733

  • 5.  RE: Sad news

    Posted 06-27-2021 19:15
    I am still in shock over Tom's sudden departure. He was the gentle doctoral student who walked me around campus when I interviewed at Oregon for my first academic job. Fate had us working together for AMJ, and then for AOM. His email always began or end with a story of his son Joe, something special they did together. There is a real human in Tom. He took everything in stride and never showed stress even during the time when he was fighting brain cancer. He acted as if he was just recovering from a bad cold. His unassuming demeanor and humility was so endearing. Tom, your legacy will be remembered and your warm friendship will be missed dearly! My prayers are with Janet and Joe.

    Anne Tsui
    Arizona State University and University of Notre Dame, USA
    Peking University and Fudan University, China
    Co-founder, RRBM

  • 6.  RE: Sad news

    Posted 06-28-2021 13:42
    I am deeply saddened by Tom's passing.  I first met Tom when he was entering the PhD program at the U. of Oregon.  i was on the faculty of U. of Oregon at that time.  However, because I was in the process of relocating to another university, i didn't get much of a chance to interact with him then.  Our paths crossed again when we was elected to the Executive Board of AOM.  Tom was truly a gentleman and a scholar; it was always such a delight to interact with him.  He will be greatly missed.

    Rosalie Tung, Simon Fraser University

    Rosalie Tung
    Simon Fraser University
    Burnaby BC
    (778) 782-3083

  • 7.  RE: Sad news

    Posted 06-30-2021 19:42
    Hello all,

    Tom's last year in Oregon's PhD program was my first year as an Assistant Professor.  He was a great scholar, a devoted mentor, and a magnificent human being.  I'm feeling sad, but honored and glad that he was my friend for 37 years.  What a loss for us all!

    Alan Meyer
    Professor Emeritus
    University of Oregon
    Eugene OR
    (541) 346-5178

  • 8.  RE: Sad news

    Posted 07-01-2021 13:45
    I'm not sure when I first met Tom, but it seems as though it was quite a few years ago.  I got to know him so much better when I followed him as Academy President.  That's also when I met Janet (to whom I will always be grateful for actually thinking to bring me back Cuban cigars from a trip she had made there) and Joe. Tom was always a considerate and humble person, but he was proud of his family -- and the fact that he could speak Norwegian. He was a first class scholar and afirst class person, I am glad to have known him and I will miss him.

    Angelo DeNisi
    Tulane University
    New Orleans LA
    (504) 865-5414

  • 9.  RE: Sad news

    Posted 07-02-2021 14:05
    I first met Tom when he arrived at UW in 1983.  In fact, he joined myself and other UW doctoral students in a hard fought basketball game.  I will always remember Tom as wonderful colleague, a gentle man and a note worthy scholar.  I especially appreciated his help with papers when he was editor of AMJ.   Tom was
    always be a great listener and dear friend.  A giant tree has fallen!

    Ken Smith
    University of Maryland
    Wakefield, RI RI
    (301) 704-4545

  • 10.  RE: Sad news

    Posted 07-06-2021 04:25
    I first met Tom as a PhD student when he came to the University of South Australia in 2014. He and I became fast friends, and every year at the AOM Meeting, he and his lovely wife Janet would take me out to dinner, where he would happily engage me with talk about every topic under the sun. It was the highlight of my year - here I was, an early career guy talking to one of my academic idols! 

    Every fortnight, I would get an email from him asking me how life was treating me, sharing papers, ideas, or even just something cool that reminded him of something we had been talking about. He recommended me without hesitation for book chapters and anything else he thought that could help me gain a tenure-track position.

    He is, was, and forever will be one of the greatest friends I have ever had. I will treasure our chats, the emails, and memories. The world is a lesser place for losing him.

    My thoughts and prayers are with Janet and Joe.

    Beni Halvorsen
    Assistant Professor
    RMIT University
    Melbourne VIC

  • 11.  RE: Sad news

    Posted 02-03-2022 14:47
    Edited by Kerry Ignatz 01-03-2023 09:15

    On behalf of the International Federation of Scholarly Associations of Management (IFSAM), I would like to express our sorrow for the demise of Tom Lee this past summer.

    Tom served as one of the representatives of AOM in IFSAM Council (now the General Assembly) in the late 2000s.

    Tom made many contributions to IFSAM, the last one being his collaboration in the organization of IFSAM 30 year anniversary online celebration on Dec 8, 2020.

    For the organization of this ceremony, I had the pleasure to have a conversation with Tom in Nov 2020 and learn also about his contributions to and views of IFSAM. He was extremely kind and generous with his time.

    He attended the ceremony to join then AOM president Quinetta Roberson to receive on behalf of AOM the outstanding IFSAM service award given to the late Jan Beyer, another former AOM president and 4th IFSAM president.

    Our sincere condolences to family and colleagues,

    Xavier Castañer
    IFSAM President

    Xavier Castaner
    University of Lausanne