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Remembering Harold “Hal” Fearon

The longtime business professor and influential supply chain scholar passed away at 92

Portrait of the late ASU Professor Harold Fearon.

Harold "Hal" Fearon. Courtesy photo

November 06, 2023

Harold “Hal” Fearon, a longtime ASU professor and leading scholar in the procurement and supply chain discipline, died on Oct. 21 at the age of 92.

Fearon was a longtime member of the W. P. Carey School of Business community. He joined Arizona State University as an assistant professor in 1961 and often joked that he planned to stay at ASU for only two years — he stayed for almost 30.

In his time at W. P. Carey, Fearon served as chairman of the Department of Management, a position he held for 17 years. During his tenure, the department’s full-time faculty grew from six to 32. In 1984, he helped establish the new ASU Department of Purchasing, Transportation, and Operations — now the Department of Supply Chain Management (SCM) — and became its first chair. Today, the W. P. Carey supply chain programs rank No. 2 and No. 3 in the country, for undergraduate and graduate studies, respectively.

Adegoke Oke, interim chair of the supply chain department, says, “Hal Fearon, as one of our colleagues put it, was ‘a pioneer and the architect of ASU supply chain management’ — I agree. The foundation that he laid for the SCM department at ASU is what continues to make the program one of the best in the world.”

In 1986, Fearon founded the Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies, now known as the Center for Advanced Procurement Strategy, or CAPS, Research. He retired from ASU in 1989 to become the first director of CAPS, a position he held until 1996. In honor of his long career, the Harold E. Fearon Chair in Purchasing Management was established at ASU in 1994.

“Like many of my colleagues, I have had the honor of having the fellowship in Hal’s name for many years through the Fearon endowment,” Oke said. “His legacy and contributions to the supply chain management field are immeasurable and will live on.”

Fearon’s accolades are too numerous to list but include being founding editor of the Journal of Purchasing, the first journal focused on purchasing, where he was editor for nine years. Today it is called the Journal of Supply Chain Management and is one of the discipline’s preeminent journals. On LinkedIn, the journal shared, “As founder and editor of the journal from 1965–74, Hal was instrumental in its evolution from the Journal of Purchasing to the Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management. This change was initiated long before the term ‘supply chain management’ became mainstream (and) demonstrates Hal’s visionary thinking that paved the way for the discipline.”

Fearon co-authored several books on purchasing and published over 450 articles for business and academic journals. He received many honors over his long career, including the ASU College of Business Teaching Excellence Award in 1989, and was elected to the ASU College of Business Hall of Fame in 1990. The Eli Broad College of Business Alumni Association at Michigan State University awarded him the Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award in October 2003. And, in 2000, Fearon was awarded the highest accolade for research by the International Federation of Purchasing and Materials Management.

In addition to his academic work, in 1979, Fearon was appointed by the governor of Arizona to the position of Trustee of the State of Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement Fund, a position he held for three years. He was also one of a group of Tempe residents who founded the Rio Salado Bank in 1982. He was a member of the Board of Directors until the sale of the bank in 1994 to Zions Bancorp. Fearon was additionally a general partner at the Southwest Growth Fund, which invested in companies based in the U.S. Southwest, until 2020.

Above all, Fearon loved his family. In retirement, he enjoyed going on cruises and spending time with them. He is survived by Dottie, his wife of 69 years; his sons, Rick and Scott, and their wives; his five grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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