With $1 million gift, former MIT Sloan dean Glen Urban retires to focus on research

Published: June 11, 2012

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Urban won a William F. O’Dell Award—one of the marketing discipline’s highest honors—for ASSESSOR and another for a study that compared the ASSESSOR predictions with the actual results for a complete set of 18 cases and found a remarkably close correlation. ASSESSOR has been used in more than 3,000 actual new product launches by companies.

Great achievements and a respected mentor

ASSESSOR is just one of the larger marks on Urban’s extensive résumé. In addition to the O’Dell awards, he also received the 1999 Charles Coolidge Parlin Award—given for a body of work in marketing research—and earlier this year was honored with the Buck Weaver Award for Marketing, established by MIT Sloan in 2003 and cosponsored by General Motors.

With Little and Leonard Lodish, PhD ’68, he formed Management Decision Systems, Inc., which later merged with Information Resources, Inc. He cofounded Management Science for Health, Inc. (later John Snow, Inc.), Marketing Technology Interface, Inc., and InSite Marketing Technology, Inc. He founded Experion Systems, Inc. in 2000. He is relentless at publishing research, and has partnered with seemingly every key marketing academic except Little, who he once wrote is a “mentor” who “influenced every one of my works through his example, comments, and criticisms.”

Urban built a reputation as a mentor himself. Fareena Sultan, a graduate of MIT’s Operations Research program, said Urban has been a recurring character in her professional life, one who served first as her Master’s thesis advisor and later steered her toward marketing for her PhD work.

“I’m a marketing academic because of Glen Urban,” said Sultan, who is now a professor at the College of Business Administration at Northeastern University and holds an O’Dell award of her own.

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