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Urban named Sloan School dean

Professor Glen L. Urban, a leader in the use of analytic marketing methods to improve the production of new product development, has been named the new dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Professor Urban, 53, co-director of the International Center for Research on the Management of Technology, will take office Sept. 1, succeeding Dean Lester C. Thurow, who has led the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management since July, 1987.

Professor Mark S. Wrighton, provost and chief academic officer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a letter to the MIT faculty: "Glen Urban is an excellent leader and manager with a track record of setting ambitious goals and achieving them.

"The Sloan School is now poised to emerge as the top school of management. The link with a science-and-technology-based institution, leadership in international programs, excellence in programs related to organizational change, and a set of major research contributions of use in the business world are all strengths upon which we can draw. Educating the business leaders of the next century will be an important part of the Sloan mission," Professor Wrighton said.

MIT President Charles M. Vest commented, "The Sloan School has strong ties to the practical worlds of commerce, manufacturing and finance, yet remains a center of fundamental management research and an innovator in business uses of advanced technology. Its combination of discovery of management principles and teaching of business leadership skills is on target at this time of international economic and technological change. Glen Urban is the right person to be at the helm."

Professor Urban, who served as Deputy Dean at Sloan from 1987 to 1991, has been a member of the MIT faculty for 27 years. Provost Wrighton noted that Professor Urban has "substantial academic achievements" and also has "significant experience in private business."

Professor Urban said, "I am very excited to lead the team effort to make the MIT Sloan School of Management the best business school in the world. By strengthening our unique research approach of rigor and relevance, we hope to educate business leaders and give them the tools necessary to succeed in the 21st century, where technology, innovation and organizational change will be the sources of success."

William S. Edgerly, chairman emeritus of the State Street Bank and Trust Company and a member of the advisory committee to the Provost on the selection of the dean, said Professor Urban "is an outstanding choice--a man with strong academic credentials, entrepreneurial instincts and a deep commitment to MIT."

Institute Professor John D.C. Little, who chaired the advisory committee of students, faculty and business people, said, "Glen represents what the Sloan School should do. His work is characterized by prize-winning academic research leading to practical implementation. He has twice won the O'Dell Marketing Award, which is given to the paper that, when evaluated five years later, is judged to be the most significant paper of a year."

The articles, in 1978 and 1983, were involved with his work in pre-market testing, which has led to his development of the software forecasting models, Assessor, and Information Acceleration. Assessor has been used to evaluate the packaging of some 3,000 products in the past 20 years. Recent research building on this early success uses multimedia computing to place customers in a future "virtual" buying environment and measures their responses. This new methodology, called Information Acceleration, has been used to test the potential market acceptance of an electric car.

He is currently working, with another author, on a new book, Marketing Management in the 21st Century. He is the co-author of five books, including the 1993 second edition of Design and Marketing of New Products, a widely-used text which has been updated to reflect the many changes in design and marketing since its original publication in 1980. His other books include Management Science in Marketing (1969); Essentials of New Product Management (1986); Advanced Marketing Strategy: Phenomena, Analysis and Decisions (1991).

Provost Wrighton paid tribute to the current dean, Lester Thurow "for his extraordinary achievements during his tenure as dean. His initiatives in internationalization, efforts to build resources and improve facilities, enhancement of faculty diversity, building of a strong research profile, and contributions to the success of the Leaders for Manufacturing program are major accomplishments."

Professor Urban is a co-founder of three firms, Management Decision Systems Inc. (which merged with Information Resources Inc. in 1985); Management Science for Health and John Snow, Inc., both specializing in health and family planning. More recently, he founded Marketing Technology Interface, Inc., a company utilizing multimedia computing to support new product design. He is a director of the Dexter Corporation and Information Resources, Inc.

He received his B.S.M.E. and M.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, and his Ph.D. in 1966 from Northwestern University. He was appointed to the MIT faculty in 1966, granted tenure in 1973 and became a full professor in 1977. In 1987, he became the holder of a professorial chair as the Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank Professor of Management. He became co-director of the International Center for Research on the Management of Technology in 1992.

The MIT Sloan School of Management was founded in 1950 and developed from courses in administration and management that MIT first offered to undergraduate engineering students in 1914--one of the first such curricula at the university level. A program leading to the master's degree in management was established in 1925. In 1931, Alfred P. Sloan Jr., an MIT graduate and then CEO of General Motors, gave a grant to develop the Sloan Fellows Program which brings mid-career managers to MIT for a year of professional training.

Enrollment is 690 students in the graduate programs and 105 in the undergraduate program. There is a faculty of 93 professors. The school publishes the Sloan Management Review, a quarterly journal for professional managers.

A version of this article appeared in the August 4, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 2).

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