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

Published: June 11, 2012

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Sultan said Urban gave her key spots on research teams, and that offering those opportunities to graduate students was the norm for him. Though she began her PhD work at MIT Sloan, she finished at Columbia University due to family reasons and Urban supported her in the transition. He later worked with her when she was a faculty member at Harvard Business School, visiting at University of California—Berkeley, and later when she joined Northeastern.

“I always felt that Glen was there for me not only in professional advice, but in personal advice,” Sultan said. “There are many good researchers in marketing. But to have that combination personality-wise, skill-wise, and to have the will to see people succeed—that combination is rare.”

A leader, an expanded School, and a tough choice

Urban became a full professor at MIT Sloan in 1978. His ability to manage diverse teams—faculty, MBA students, computer science students—allowed him to pull off large research projects with major firms and corporations. So he did not ignore the challenge to lead MIT Sloan.

He served as a deputy dean from 1987 to 1991. He was named dean in 1993 and remained in the position until 1998. Under his leadership, MIT Sloan grew the faculty, scaled up the School’s MBA program, established partnerships with Tsinghua University and Fudan University in China, and fostered the culture of entrepreneurship the School is heralded for today. MIT Sloan had long held the rigor and academic standing of its larger peer schools. Now the School had the size and breadth to match.

“Glen’s years as dean grew MIT Sloan’s impact on the world,” Schmittlein said. “Two decades later, we’re seeing the returns in a larger, more engaged alumni population and a diversification of our students’ interests and goals.”

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