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Urban to Step Down As Dean of Sloan School

David Tarin--The Tech
Glen L. Urban will step down as Dean of the Sloan School of Management on July 1.

By Zareena Hussain
Contributing Editor

Glen L. Urban will step down as Dean of the Sloan School of Management on June 30. After a year-long sabbatical, Urban will return to MIT to do research on trust-based marketing on the World Wide Web and teach a new course on creativity.

Urban became dean of Sloan five years ago, succeeding Lester R. Thurow, who helped build Sloan's reputation as one of the nation's premier business schools.

When he became dean, Urban still saw room for the school to evolve. His ideas included improving course content and student satisfaction, increasing the size of the school, increasing ties between Sloan and the rest of the Institute, and making Sloan one of top business schools in the world.

"My philosophy on this dean's job is that it should be viewed as part of a relay race, not a marathon," Urban said in a letter announcing his departure. "Lester Thurow passed the baton to me in 1993 and after five years, I feel we have substantially accomplished the initiatives set out in my five year plan."

After 19 months under Urban, Sloan rose to first place in the U.S. News & World Report business school rankings. In that same year, 93 percent of students said they would recommend the program to someone else, up from 73 percent polled the year before. Urban also implemented a new Master of Business Administrationcore curriculum during his tenure.

Over the past five years, student enrollment in the MBAprogram has increased from 220 to 350 per year and the number of applications to the school increased from 1600 to 3300. The percentage of admitted students who chose to attend MIT increased from 60 to 75.

This past fall, Sloan launched two international MBA programs in collaboration with China's top universities, Fudan and Tsinghua.

The Sloan faculty numbers 84, an increase of 10 from five years ago. The school hired 19 new faculty members in the last year. The number of full professorships at Sloan has also doubled in the years that Urban has served as dean.

Interdisciplinary programs added

As it continued its rise to the top, Sloan continued its integration with MIT's other schools. This ran contrary to the trend among other premier business schools, which tried to maintain their autonomy. Urban created a joint degree program with the School of Engineering in System Design and Management. The Leaders for Manufacturing Program was another initiative, aiming to bring Sloan and the School of Engineering together in a mutually beneficial way.

The MIT Entrepeneurship Center also expanded during Urban's tenure. The center has placed over 150 students as interns in start-up firms. One third of the students are not enrolled in Sloan, Urban said. The center is "aimed at all MITstudents," he said.

In addition to these interdepartmental efforts, "many new joint research programs with engineering and science are now underway and provide" opportunities for students seeking Research Assistantships and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program positions, he said.

The number of students from other departments enrolled in Sloan classes has increased from 175 to 275. The number of undergraduate management majors increased from 110 to 240.

Sloan not yet fully integrated

The lack of a management minor and the separate Sloan class lottery may contribute to the perception among some faculty and students that the only thing that connects Sloan to MIT is the school's name. However, Sloan doesn't have the facilities to deal with a large number of management minors, Urban said.

"We are only constrained by resources, not by desire," Urban said. "We would like to offer undergraduate and graduate minors in management, but lack classrooms and teachers. The bidding system is a short-run measure to ration demand by Sloan and interdepartmental students." Urban said.

Urban also tried to change the public's perception of MIT students as simply number crunchers. He created a Dean's Gallery outside his office in 1994 which showcases the talents of artists within the MITcommunity and New England.

"We operate under the MITShadow,' that we're quantitative," Urban told The Boston Globe after being named dean. "I would hope we could really turn out a well-rounded manager for the 21st century," he said. "I think it's very important for managers to have good quantitative skills, but it's also important to have good creative skills and human skills. You have to find problems and solve them," Urban said.

Colleagues applaud Urban

In addition, to increasing enrollment and fostering programs that deal with the interface between business and technology, Urban boasts many other accomplishments, both personal and as dean.

Urban has been an award-winning researcher. He won O'Dell awards in 1963 and 1986 for his influential papers on marketing research. In 1996, he received the American Marketing Association's Paul D. Converse Award for outstanding lifelong contributions to the development of the science of marketing and the Journal of Marketing award for best paper.

Dean Urban earned the a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin, and a PhD in marketing from Northwestern University. He is co-author of five books, including Design and Marketing of New Products, Advanced Marketing Strategy, Essentials of New Product Management, and Management Science in Marketing.

He co-founded three companies and founded another two. His most recent was InSite Marketing Technology, an electronic commerce firm that develops tools to market on the Internet.

Search committee to be named

In the coming weeks, a search committee will be appointed by Provost Joel Moses and President Charles M. Vest to find a replacement for Urban. However, Urban's contribution to Sloan and MIT will not be forgotten.

"Under Glen Urban's direction, the Sloan School has launched a number of innovative programs, strengthened its international programs particularly in Asia, forged stronger links with all five schools at MIT, and fortified MIT's leading role in entrepreneurship," Vest said. "His direction has secured Sloan's position as one of the best business schools in the world, well-prepared to meet the management challenges of the 21st century. I am grateful for Glen's leadership and look forward to working with him in new capacities in the future."

Provost Joel Moses said Dean Urban "has been an outstanding leader and manager who set ambitious goals and achieved them. His vision and drive have boosted the MBA population by more than a third, doubled applications, expanded the faculty, and dramatically increased the school's organizational efficiency."