Hundreds of past and present MIT Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) community members recently came together for a two-day “DonFest” to celebrate, thank, and occasionally tease Don Rosenfield, who is retiring next month after 26 years as LGO’s director.
The event included an evening gala reception at Fenway Park’s EMC Club on May 15 and a conference on the following day that looked back on Rosenfield’s career as a teacher, researcher, and friend to innumerable LGO students, alumni, colleagues, and staff.
A highlight of the reception at Fenway (a favorite venue of Rosenfield, who is an avid Red Sox fan) was a game of “Stump Don,” where Rosenfield had to guess the identities of several former students hiding in the crowd based only on the sound of their voices and a few clues. Rosenfield — who is legendary for remembering the names, careers, and family members of the 1,000-plus LGO students he’s taught over the years — batted a perfect score.
The early days of LGO
MIT professors Tom Magnanti and David Hardt kicked off the Friday conference by reminiscing about working with Rosenfield to create and develop the LGO program. On the screen behind them was an image of a Boston Globe article from June 1988 on the founding of LGO (then called Leaders for Manufacturing, or LFM) with the headline “MIT’s Bold Plan for the Future Joins with Business to Help End US’ Manufacturing Decline.”
Another slide showed one of the early proposals for the kind of LFM research that aimed to straddle the worlds of engineering, academia, and management: an idea by Emanuel Sachs (then an assistant professor of mechanical engineering) for using an HP Deskjet printer and silicon carbide powder to do something called 3-D printing.
Hardt is the Ralph E. and Eloise R. Cross Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Magnanti, formerly head of management science at MIT Sloan School of Management, is now president of the Singapore University of Technology and Design and an MIT Institute Professor.
Zeynep Ton, an adjunct assistant professor of operations management at MIT Sloan, co-taught a class with Rosenfield at the start of her career at MIT and was impressed by his “intellectual curiosity and nerdiness, generosity and compassion, tirelessness and diligence,” she said. His teaching style is “modest, competent, compassionate ... and he takes so much pride in knowing his students at a personal level.”