Stories and Articles

A Eulogy for Jai Ghorpade

I am very sorry I cannot be here today in person to say a few words about Jai Ghorpade, but my wife and I made reservations about two months ago to go to Indiana and be with family over the Christmas holidays. I am sure that Jai would understand.

Jai had many friends, and I like to think that I was one of them. In case you do not know who I am, my name is Jim Beatty. I have been a member of the faculty at San Diego State University for 40+ years, arriving on campus in 1973. I was the new kid on the block when I arrived, being 29 years of age. The next closest person in age within the Department of Management was Jai Ghorpade, who was about eight years my senior. I had just finished my PhD and was learning the ropes of academia. I soon became acquainted with three department members who were well-established in the department as well as known in the HR community around the country. They were Dave Belcher, Tom Atchison, and Jai Ghorpade. I soon developed a strong working relationship with them, and what an opportunity it was.

Dave, Tom, and Jai had collected a considerable data, and my PhD was in statistics and psychology. In other words, they had data and HR knowledge, while I had analytical skills and compensation experience. They shared their data, and I shared my computer software. As a result, we collaborated on numerous topics. Jai was a scholar in the area of job analysis, job evaluation, job descriptions, and related areas, while Dave and Tom had considerable background in compensation analysis, equity theory, and organizational behavior. Together, we were able to chair many master's theses, served on each other's thesis committees, and presented papers as professional meetings. What an opportunity for me to get a start on the research path. In fact, I still refer to Jai's book entitled Job Analysis: A Handbook for the Human Resource Director, published by Prentice Hall, in my teaching and research. My copy of that book has a 1987 publication date, and yet much of it is still relevant today.

Somewhere along the line, Jai introduced me to two young men about my age. One was Jack McKenna, who was working on his PhD at the University of California-Irvine. Jai and Jack were very close, and Jai clearly served as a mentor to Jack. The other was Richard Scholl, who was earning his PhD at URI as well. Both Jack and Rick went on to earn their PhDs, with considerable encouragement from Jai. They secured teaching positions at well-known universities and have enjoyed very successful careers in the classroom and in professional development. Jai provided them with guidance and leadership as they began their careers, much as he had done for me. Jai also served as a mentor for Jim Lackritz, taking Jim under his wing shortly after Jim joined the Department of Management. Once again, Jai was there to provide guidance and friendly advice. Jai and Jim became lifelong friends.

One of my favorite personal memories of Jai was a trip that Jai, Jack, and I took to Las Vegas to present papers and to listen to academic forums. A long ride from San Diego to Las Vegas provides considerable opportunity to get to know someone, especially outside of academic life. We went in Jai's car, and our first stop was to drop off his dog at a kennel for the three day trip. The kennel had to be the "right" kennel, one that was "user-friendly" to his dog. We waited in his car while he spent about 45 minutes inside. When he came out, I asked what took so long, and he said he just wanted to make sure this was the right place for his dog. Personally, I think he was conducting a JOB EVALUATION right there on the spot, analyzing and evaluation the qualifications and caregiving skills of both the veterinarian and his staff.

Once we got on the road, Jai began to open up, and I discovered how much fun he could be, what a good sense of humor he had, and how easy he was to be around. I remember stopping at his house on the way back, which was located near College Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard, not far from campus. It was a very quaint and hilly neighborhood, well known at that time as a "drive by" for viewing elaborate house decorations around Christmas time. Jai's house was located right in the middle of these houses, providing him with a natural laboratory for studying culture, diversity, and human behavior. He shared his thoughts and found all this intriguing.

In summary, Jai was a wonderful colleague, very willing to share his friendship with others. More than that, he had a keen sense of humor, was fun to be around, and always had a twinkle in his eye. How can I best describe Jai Ghorpade? Here are some words that seem to fit him well:

  • Honorable
  • Respected
  • Scholarly
  • Witty
  • Kind
  • Humble
  • Moral
  • Tranquil
  • Scholarly
  • Supportive
  • Loyal

Or maybe this list provides a good acronym:

  • J: as in Jolly
  • A: as in Academic
  • I: as in Intellectual
  • G: as in Good
  • H: as in Honorable
  • O: Original
  • R: as in Respected
  • P: as in Personable
  • A: as in Adroit
  • D: as in Deliberate
  • E: as in Educated

All of these words provide a good description of Jai Ghorpade, but FIRST RATE seems to encompass the essence of his life. Jai always brought patience and reason to the table, and he always served as a FIRST RATE role model. He has touched the lives of many, and many have been fortunate to have known him. Jai, you have left your mark on many lives—more than you ever knew, and we are thankful for having the opportunity to know you. Bless you, Jai Ghorpade, as we have been blessed by knowing you. May peace and tranquility be with you, and may your family and friends celebrate your FIRST RATE existence on this Earth.