Bill Howard passed away on 9 August, 2009.
He was an outstanding Labour Economist whose focus was on Industrial Relations, for which he gained national and international recognition. In Australia, he held various university positions, including those of Associate Professor, Economics and Politics (Monash), Council Member (Monash) and Senior Associate (Management and Industrial Relations, Melbourne). In the U.S.A. - where he had gained his PhD at Cornell - he was a visiting Professor (Wisconson University) and visiting Lecturer/Fellow (John Hopkins and Maryland Universities), Guest Scholar (Brookings Institute) and Fellow of the America Council of Learned Scholars.
Bill remained an active researcher and consultant to government and private sector organizations throughout his working career and was widely published. He was a deep thinker with a razor-sharp mind and a wicked sense of humour. He was a great admirer of the American system of collective bargaining, which he preferred to the Australian system (his ‘dependency thesis’), with its reliance on government intervention for conflict resolution. He was generous to a fault in sharing his time, efforts and intellectual insights, to encourage and assist friends, students and colleagues. He was especially interested in analysing the contributions of those in Industrial Relations, epitomised by Shorty O’Neill, the long time Head of the Barrier Industrial Council (or Workers’ Soviet) in Broken Hill, who dared to ‘buck’ the system. Although worlds apart, Bill and Shorty proudly shared the ‘maverick’ mantle.
Outside of his careers Bill had been an accomplished junior footballer and was a passionate supporter of the Richmond Football Club as well as a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club. He was also a lover of traditional American Dixieland jazz music.
Bill’s horizons were, sadly, severely restricted by the necessity to weather serious personal storms, namely the untimely death of his wife, Mary, and the ongoing demands and pressures of raising into adulthood, a seriously disabled child. His lifelong devotion to his family, especially to his daughters, Ruth and Martha, and granddaughter Rachael, and his son-in-law Steve, is an inspiration to all of us who knew and loved this wonderful ‘one of a kind’ man.
Dr June M. Hearn
Former Deputy Chancellor