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In Memoriam – Dr. James R. Barker

Posted by Heidi Weigand on January 5, 2024 in News

In Memoriam – Dr. James R. Barker

Scholar, mentor, and leader Dr. James (Jim) R. Barker passed away at his home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on December 2nd, 2023. He was a graduate student at Purdue and the University of Colorado Boulder, and used his innate curiosity to advance knowledge in his professoriate positions at Marquette University, the University of New Mexico Albuquerque, the United States Air Force Academy, the University of Waikato, and Dalhousie University.

Dr. Barker is widely known inside and outside the university community for his intellect, leadership, and generosity in serving the academy and the broader community. He was the Herbert S. Lamb Chair in Business Education; the Research Lead for the Dalhousie Safe Assured Initiative; a Founding Fellow of the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy & Governance; Chair of the Leadership & Organizations Department in the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University. Dr. Barker was cross-appointed with the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Continuing Professional Development & Medical Education. His commitment to education was recognized with several teaching awards, including the A. Gordon Archibald Award. He served as editor for many journals, won multiple research and paper awards, and engaged in research partnerships around the world.

Jim had boundless love for his daughters Sara and Felicity. He wanted them to follow whatever path they chose and supported them along the way. Whether they wanted to jump into caves, snorkel in icy waters, learn the music of a new band, or travel to faraway places, he was keen to join the fun or ensure they succeeded on their own. He was a funny, patient, and sweet Dad. He extended his paternal affection to Felicity’s husband, Maru Aldan, whom he loved as his own. With Maru and Sarath Sasidharan, whom he also regarded as a son, he explored other sides of himself and them.

As husband to Linda Macdonald, he was kind, loving, and supportive. They were partners in everything. He was her hero. He leaves behind his sisters and niece Gena and nephew Jimmy, his daughters, his sons through marriage and friendship, his brother- and sister-in-law Gary Macdonald and Mary Costa, and cousins including Eric Barker and Orlin Barker.

Dr. Barker, a gentleman and a scholar, first joined Dalhousie in 2010 after spending several years working in New Zealand. His knowledge of Indigenous leadership values and principles inspired his mentees to pursue their passion for social impact with the Mi’kmaq community and support research excellence in mental health leadership.

His passion for leadership was evident when he first arrived at Dalhousie, when he established a leading-edge MBA in Leadership. He also co-developed an accredited Leadership program with the Faculty of Medicine set to start in January 2024.

He leaves his family in the Department of Leadership and Organizations at Dalhousie and his research companions in Medicine and Management around the world. He leaves his students and those he mentored. He would want us all to, as he wrote, “move forward in a useful, positive way.”

Students have expressed deep sadness and gratefulness for his mentorship.

“I really enjoyed his Management Skills Development class and he and I connected well during that intensive. He was a brilliant professor. I really opened up to him in my last paper and he made an impact on me. “

Mentees will cherish the fun and caring side of his mentorship with memorable expressions.

“Super Cool”, “What’s up, what’s going on, how are you?”

Jim was adored and respected by his mentees, students, colleagues, and partners in the greater academic and practitioner community. His final gift to his colleagues was to take the lead as the first Leadership and Organizations Department Chair with the recent structural change in the Faculty of Management. He had a vision to bring leadership scholars to Dalhousie with a wealth of diverse perspectives. Jim’s vision for what Dalhousie could bring to the community was boundaryless. Jim was passionate about making an impact in academia, community, and across the world.

The flags on campus are flying at half-mast in his honour. The Faculty of Management will host a gathering for colleagues and Jim’s family to share stories and honour Jim’s significant contributions to Dalhousie University on Tuesday, December 19th, 2023 at 1 pm, in room 3087 in the Rowe Management Building. 

Dr. Barker’s obituary can be found here: