AMHERST, Mass. - George W. Spiro of Amherst, associate dean for undergraduate matters at the University of Massachusetts School of Management, died Tuesday in the Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Northampton, Mass., from cancer. He was 49.
Spiro joined the University’s Amherst campus as an associate professor and chairman of the department of management in 1981, after teaching at UMass Boston for five years. He became a full professor in 1985 and that year also assumed the role of acting dean, serving until Dean Thomas O''Brien''s appointment in June 1987.
Spiro spearheaded a business writing course in the School of Management and pushed efforts to improve academic support services, including the Talent Advancement Program, in which two groups of 30 students live together on a single floor in a residence hall and take classes together. Spiro also helped develop the school’s Minority Management Education Program.
Spiro’s colleagues praised his integrity and his academic work at UMass.
"George was such a remarkable man," said O’Brien. "He was very well known on campus. He did a lot of work across campus on various committees. But as a man, George was a warm, loving, caring person. It''s quite a loss."
O’Brien said Spiro was particularly loyal to the undergraduate management students, working to improve what the University could offer them.
Louis M. Wigdor, director of communications at the School of Management, praised Spiro for his strong academic work and his intense interest in getting the best out of his students.
"He used business law to train the mind and to get students to learn to think on their feet," Wigdor said. "As undergraduate dean,he tried to give students a basic platform of skills and to teach them to think critically. He was a truly beloved dean and a friend to everyone."
"George Spiro was a stable voice of reason that was always very helpful to students," said Richard J. Asebrook, professor of accounting and information systems. "We’ll miss his integrity, passion, humor, and sense of fairness."
Spiro was born Dec. 30, 1947, in New York City. He graduated from Patchogue High School in Patchogue, N.Y., earned a bachelor of science degree in personnel and industrial relations from Syracuse University in 1969, a master of science degree in labor studies from UMass in 1971, and a juris doctor in law-labor relations concentration from Syracuse in 1974. He began his teaching career at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, in 1974.
Spiro lived in Amherst with his wife, Lucia, and their son, Jeffrey.
Funeral services will be held Thursday morning at Temple Israel in Greenfield, followed by burial at Wildwood Cemetery in Amherst. The McCarthy Funeral Home in Greenfield is in charge of arrangements.
There are no calling hours on Thursday after the burial. Visiting days at Spiro’s home at 20 Hartman Road, Amherst, will be Friday from 3:30-5 p.m. and Saturday from 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.
Donations may be made in lieu of flowers to the American Cancer Society or to a charity of one’s choice.