obituary
12:22 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

LBJ School Internet Policy Expert Gary Chapman Dies Suddenly At 58

The LBJ School of Public Affairs is reporting that senior lecturer Gary Chapman died of an apparent heart attack yesterday during a kayaking trip in Guatemala.

"The LBJ School has lost a beloved colleague, inspirational teacher, and wonderful friend. Gary was a man of shining integrity, whose memory and example we will carry with us," said Dean Robert Hutchings. "Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends along with our heart-felt gratitude for a life of such profound contribution. We will miss him dearly."

Update at 12:27 pm: KUT News spoke with Dean Hutchings who told us he was surprised to learn when he first met Chapman that he was in the Green Berets, "because he was so mild mannered and quiet and modest. But then I realized that was absolutely fitting with his personality, that he was so confident himself that he could afford to be modest," Hutchings said. "He was a gentle soul and an exmaple of what we'd all like our students to be."

Earlier: Chapman used to write a nationally syndicated LA Times column you may have read called Digital Nation. He was director of the 21st Century Project at the LBJ School. In 2001, he was profiled in the Austin Chronicle.

The purpose of the 21st Century Project, based at UT since 1994, is "to research and explore alternatives for science and technology policy in the post-Cold War era," Chapman says. "We have an emphasis and focus on the Internet and telecommunications policy. Another central focus of the Project is how to bring citizens to the table when policymaking involves complex technical issues."

Anyone who's sat in on one of Chapman's LBJ School seminars can attest to the complexity of the policy issues on the table. But Chapman is not averse to having a good time.

Here's an interview with Chapman from 2008 where he talks about the generation gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials, and how that affects technology use by non-profit organizations.  "People in the Boomer generation really don't get the transformational quality of the internet," Chapman says in the interview.

Chapman was a commentator on digital technology long before we all had PCs in our homes. In 1986, he appeared in this episode of The Computer Chronicles to discuss how computers were affecting politics.

In a tribute fitting a technologist like Chapman, people are sharing their memories of him online. You can read those memories, and post your own at the LBJ School's website.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.