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Dana Mead to head MIT Corporation

Dana Mead
Dana Mead

Dana G. Mead, retired chair and CEO of Tenneco Inc., has been elected chair of the MIT Corporation, effective July 1.

Members of the Corporation (MIT's board of trustees) elected Mead at their quarterly meeting on March 7. Mead, a West Point graduate, received the Ph.D. in political science from MIT in 1967.

"I feel very privileged to be leading the MIT Corporation, one of the nation's truly distinguished academic governing bodies, with a long history of dedication to the growth and well-being of the university," said Mead, who has been a member of the Corporation since 1996. "One of MIT's great strengths is the supportive working relationship between the Corporation, the MIT president and his leadership team, students, faculty, alumni, the private sector and government.

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to help enhance the unique spirit which contributes to the preeminent position that MIT enjoys today."

President Charles M. Vest said: "Dana has a deep understanding of and dedication to MIT and its ideals. He brings an unusual breadth of experience in all three sectors--academia, government and industry--and understands the role of great research universities. He is committed to working with the Corporation and beyond to secure the resources necessary to sustain MIT's excellence."

Mead succeeds Alexander V. d'Arbeloff (S.B. 1949), who has chaired the Corporation since 1997. D'Arbeloff and his wife, Brit (S.M. 1961), have provided active and visible leadership during his tenure as chair.

"Nancy [Mead's wife] and I are being asked to fill some very big shoes--Brit and Alex have provided such great leadership and contributed to the welfare of MIT in so many ways that we can only hope to emulate their enduring example," Mead said. "It is a very high bar indeed."

Mead currently chairs the Corpor-sation's visiting committee for the Department of Nuclear Engineering and serves on the visiting committees for the Engineering Systems Division and the Department of Political Science. He serves on the Corporation membership committee.

"Dana Mead will continue the tradition of exceptional leadership for the MIT Corporation," said Corporation member James A. Champy (S.B. 1963, S.M.), who headed the search committee. "Dana knows MIT well and will bring experiences from other academic institutions as well as the private sector to his new role. MIT is fortunate to have such an active corporate body and a person so skilled in governance as its chair."

Mead received the B.S. in engineering from West Point in 1957 and served with distinction in regular Army line armor and airborne units from 1957-70. He did tours in West Germany and Vietnam and as an assistant professor at West Point.

He was a White House Fellow in 1970-71 and served as associate and deputy director of the Domestic Council from 1972-74. He then returned to West Point as a tenured professor and deputy head of the Social Sciences Department. Mead retired from the Army in 1978. Before joining Tenneco, he was executive vice president and a member of the board of International Paper.

Mead served as chair and CEO of Tenneco from 1994-99, during which time he opened operations in 18 countries in South America, Asia and Europe. He was chair of the National Association of Manufacturers in 1994-95 and the Business Roundtable in 1998-99, the first business leader elected to both prestigious positions by his peers.

He is a trustee of the George Marshall Foundation board and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He served for 25 years as a presidential commissioner on White House fellowships and is a lifetime trustee and co-chair of the bicentennial fund drive of West Point's Association of Graduates. He serves on the executive advisory committee of the Center for Risk Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Mead serves on the board of governors of the British Royal Shakespeare Company and is president of its American board. He is on the national board of governors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and is a director of the Atlantic Salmon Foundation (U.S.) "His work with the Atlantic Salmon Foundation will prepare him for all of the dinners he will need to attend," Vest quipped.

He has received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America, the Woodrow Wilson Award from the Wilson Foundation, the McCloy Award from the American Council on Germany, the Manufacturing Leadership Award from the National Association of Manufacturers and the John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award from the White House Fellows Association. He co-authored the book "High Standards, Hard Choices: A CEO's Journey of Courage, Risk and Change" with Thomas Hayes (John Wiley and Sons, 2000).

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 12, 2003.

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