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Abraham Siegel, former Sloan dean, dies at 88

Led the School of Management through a period of strategic growth
Abraham J. Siegel, former dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management
Abraham J. Siegel, former dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management
Photo: L. Barry Hetherington

Abraham J. Siegel, a former dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management who reorganized the school's faculty into the three major areas of focus still used today, died on Jan. 16. He was 88.

An expert in labor relations, negotiation and organization studies, Siegel came to the Institute in 1954, originally as an instructor in the Department of Economics. He was named a full professor — with a dual appointment at MIT Sloan and the Department of Economics — in 1964. From 1967-1981, Siegel was Sloan's associate dean under Dean Bill Pounds, and he was named head of MIT Sloan in June 1981, serving in that position through 1987. He was most recently the Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management Emeritus at the Institute.

As a professor, Siegel taught a course to MIT Sloan fellows focusing on the dilemmas and decisions in interpersonal relations and organizational settings. His research interests were in labor economics and labor/management relations, conflict management and resolution, and organization design and personnel issues.

As dean, Siegel hired the school’s first director of alumni relations, showing a commitment to building a strong alumni community. Sloan's physical campus was also a priority during his tenure, and Siegel oversaw the renovation of the original Sloan building, the construction of the bridge between E52 and 70 Memorial Drive and the expansion of the school's classroom and research space.

"Some who knew him best have shared that in his passion for MIT Sloan, Abe was like a father to our community, and indeed that is how he shall be remembered," said David Schmittlein, the John C. Head III Dean of MIT Sloan.

Siegel also re-engineered the Sloan faculty and degree programs, organizing the faculty into three specific areas: behavioral and policy science; applied economics, finance and accounting; and management science. Conversations Siegel initiated with the School of Engineering in regard to efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturing processes also helped shape what would become the Leaders for Global Operations program.

Siegel leaves behind his wife, Lillian; and his three children, Emily Stangle, Paul Siegel and Barbara Pugliese.

Services will be held on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 11 a.m. at the Schlossberg & Solomon Memorial Chapel at 824 Washington St., Canton, Mass. In lieu of flowers, donations in Siegel's memory may be made to Orchard Cove, 1 Del Pond Drive, Canton, MA 02021.

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