It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our colleague, friend, and mentor, Professor Jack Quarter, who passed away in the early hours of Feb. 6. Jack taught at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE), was a researcher there at its founding in 1965, became an assistant professor at OISE in 1971, and a full professor in 1988. Throughout his life, Jack was a consummate supporter of Canada’s co-operative movement and social economy. At the University of Toronto, Jack was known as a dedicated researcher and a kind and generous teacher, mentor, and colleague. Beyond the university, Jack was recognized world-wide as one of the leading specialists of the social economy.
Starting with close studies of Israel’s kibbutz movement and then worker co-operatives, Jack would eventually specialize in worker buyouts of firms, union-led pensions, community economic development, nonprofits, co-operatives, and social enterprises. He viewed them all as spaces and organizations that offered more ethical ways of meeting the needs of people and that directly addressed the inequities of the market system and public sector downsizing. He would eventually go on to write 12 books and over 100 journal papers and book chapters on these themes, including much of the text for the Worker Co-op magazine in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many of these publications were collaborative efforts with colleagues and students.
In 1991, Jack helped organize and found the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation, and soon after became an active member and president of the Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation. In 2008 he also co-founded the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research, serving as its president for seven years. Securing many SSHRC grants over his career (around $7.2 million), between 2005-2010 Jack directed the SSHRC community/university research alliance on the social economy, and soon after Jack spearheaded OISEs Social Economy Centre and then the Centre for Learning, Social Economy, and Work.
Winner of several life-time achievement awards (including CASC’s in 2006), the Jack Quarter Prize in Social Economy was established in 2011 in his honour by his former doctoral students and others touched by his wisdom and support in making intellectual contributions to our collective knowledge of and well-being in the social economy in Canada and around the world.
Our thoughts are with his partner, Prof. Dale Willows, and family. Rest in peace, Jack.