Richard Casavant, the former dean of the College of Business at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga who served as a Hamilton County commissioner, Signal Mountain town councilman and Erlanger hospital trustee, died Tuesday.
The 77-year-old retired marketing professor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early 2018 and died at his home in Atlanta.
A native of Athens, Tennessee, Casavant was a 1960 graduate of Chattanooga City High School, where he was a running back for the high school football team. He earned a B.A. in economics from Emory University in 1964, an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1966, and a Ph.D. in marketing from Georgia State University in 1976.
Following his graduation from Wharton, Casavant served in the United States Air Force, Medical Service Corps, as a 1st lieutenant and medical supply officer from 1966-1969.
In 1976, Casavant began a 30-plus-year teaching career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, first as an associate professor of marketing and later as the Alan Lorberbaum professor of marketing, director of the UTC Family Business Center, and the John Staigmaier chair and dean of the College of Business. He retired as the dean of the UTC College of Business in 2010.
During his tenure at UTC, he promoted the concept of individual entrepreneurship, creating one of the first 50 college degree programs of its type for entrepreneurship in the country.
Casavant was elected to the Signal Mountain Town Council, which he served on for six years, and also served for three 4-year terms as a Hamilton County commissioner from 1998 to 2010.
Casavant was chairman of the county commission from 2002-2003, and he advocated for a Signal Mountain Middle-High school that ultimately opened in 2008. In 2015, the high school recognized his help by honoring him with the Richard Casavant Media and Enrichment Center, although he dryly noted that the creative genes in the Casavant family primarily resided in his two sons, his father, and his siblings, since he "could barely play the radio."
Casavant served as a trustee on the Erlanger hospital board for more than four years before leaving that post in 2012.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Mountain Education Fund in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, P.O. Box 81, Signal Mountain, TN 37377 or on its website at www.meftoday.org.
In light of the current pandemic health crisis, a memorial service cannot be held at this time but will be scheduled at a later date and held at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Atlanta.