The former Tufts University trustee and advisor Neil Chayet, A60, passed away on August 11, following a battle with cancer. He was seventy-eight.

Chayet majored in government at Tufts. He was a member of the Tufts Board of Trustees from 1971 to 1981, serving on the trustees’ University Advancement Committee and Executive Committee. He was also a member of the Tisch College Board of Advisors and the Cummings School Board of Overseers. He had been a faculty member at Cummings School, the School of Medicine, and the School of Dental Medicine.

In addition to Tufts, Chayet graduated from Harvard Law School, and went on to write and broadcast the CBS radio program Looking at the Law for forty-two years, heard in the Boston area on WBZ radio. He was also a faculty member at the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry and enjoyed a long legal career focusing on medical issues.

“Neil was a natural-born teacher and performer; he loved any classroom, any teaching venue,” said Sol Gittleman, former Tufts provost. “He always used his expertise to teach about the law.”

Most recently, Chayet launched Chayet Communications Group, and focused through consulting and public speaking on teaching others to resist and avoid conflict in daily life. He developed a thirteen-week curriculum for the undergraduate course Conflict! New Ways of Thinking About Life’s Challenges, which he taught at Tufts’ Experimental College last spring. “His Experimental College class on ethics and the law was a favorite time for him,” Gittleman said. “Neil had a warm place for Tufts in his heart.”

Chayet served on the boards of the Massport Security Advisory Council, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Science, and the Philips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum, among others. He was the author of four books, including Looking at the Law and Legal Implications of Emergency Care.

Earlier in his career, Chayet represented clients including Jonas Salk and Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, as well as inmates of Bridgewater State Hospital in a case alleging invasion of privacy. He was also an advisor to Massachusetts Governor William Weld. He served on the psychiatric task force for the Boston Strangler investigation and helped draft the nation’s first community mental health law.

Chayet lived in the historic Joseph Story House in Salem, Massachusetts, which he restored with his wife, Martha. He enjoyed world travel, model railroading, fishing, and sailing.

Monica Jimenez

Monica Jimenez, editor of One Tufts and Tufts Magazine's Connect section and writer at Tufts, can be reached at