The Rev. Gerard F. Yates, 72, professor emeritus and former dean of the graduate school at Georgetown University, died Thursday at the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, N.Y., after an apparent heart attack. Father Yates was on a retreat at the shrine at the time of his death.

He began teaching political science at Georgetown in 1942 and became chairman of the department five years later. Father Yates was dean of the graduate school from 1949 to 1954 and professor of government until becoming a professorial lecturer in 1972. He retired three years later.

In addition to his other duties at the university, Father Yates was chairman of the university committee on foreign students and foreign student adviser from 1960 to 1971, director of international student programs from 1965 to 1971, and director of libraries.

He was editor of the 1958 publication "Papal Thought on the State," and had contributed articles to Catholic publications.

He was a member of the American Political Science Association, the American Society of International Law, the English Speaking Union, and a fellow of the American Geographic Society.

Georgetown University had named its new field house in his honor in July.

Father Yates was a native of Staten Island, N.Y., and a graduate of Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1923 and was ordained a priest in 1936.

He first came to Georgetown University in 1930 and was an instructor of Latin for three years. He left the university to pursue his education, studying theology and canon law at the Ancienne Abbaye, Tronchiennes, Belgium, and government and international relations at the London School of Economics. He earned both master's and doctoral degrees at Yale University.

Rev. Yates is survived by a brother, Paul, of Spring Hill, Fla.