Even before Commencement last week, the Rosenfield family had an impressive collection of MIT degrees — but now they're into double digits.
Todd Rosenfield received two master’s degrees last week: an SM in mechanical engineering and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He received the simultaneous degrees through the MIT Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program —which his father, Don Rosenfield (who has three MIT degrees) has directed for 26 years.
The tradition got started in 1971, when Don received three MIT degrees — a bachelor's in mathematics, and an EE degree and SM in operations research from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science — while his wife, Nancy, received her bachelor's in mathematics after transferring to MIT from Smith College. All three of their children also earned bachelor's degrees from MIT: Jennifer, in 1996 (biology); Todd, in 2001 (mechanical engineering); and a pair for Adam, in 2008 (mathematics and computer science and engineering), bringing the family total to eight.
When he was first looking at colleges, Todd, who was interested in science and engineering, applied early to MIT. “After I was admitted, I didn't consider any other schools. I never wanted to go anywhere else for college, in part because of the family legacy,” he says.
Coincidentally, both Todd and his sister went on to law school. “I thought being a patent attorney would be a good career for me because it would give me the opportunity to continue to learn about and work on a broad array of technical projects,” Todd says. “However, I found that I wanted to work more directly with businesses and help them succeed. I didn't really get the opportunity to solve problems and bring products to people. LGO gave me the opportunity to change careers to something where I would be able to do that. I was always interested in manufacturing in college, so I feel like this was the logical thing to do.”
In another twist, Don is also “graduating” from MIT again, as he retires from his role as LGO’s program director — although he plans to stay on as a part-time senior lecturer at MIT Sloan. Hundreds of LGO alumni, faculty, students and friends gave him an affectionate sendoff at last month’s “DonFest” with a party at Fenway Park and a conference highlighting his contributions to education and research in operations management.
“Everybody is celebrating my dad's legacy as he retires ... he's done so much for the program, and I'm confident that what he's built will continue to succeed with a new director,” Todd says. “It's great that he gets to retire, but I'm glad he waited until I was through the program. One of the best parts about attending LGO was that I got to spend so much time with my dad.”
Todd will start work next month with LGO partner company Verizon as a supply chain manager, “which is exactly what I had in mind when I started the LGO program,” he says. Jennifer, who earned a master's in genetics from Harvard University, as well as a law degree from Suffolk University, works in biotech patent law, while Adam works in Cambridge for LGO partner company Amazon.
Asked if there might be any more MIT degrees forthcoming for his immediate family, Don said with a laugh, “Probably not.” However, there’s now a new generation of Rosenfield's — Todd and his wife Runa’s daughter, Natalia, was born two years ago just as he was starting his LGO studies. Might she eventually carry on the Rosenfields’ MIT tradition?
“I hope so,” Todd says. “If she's at all interested in studying science, engineering or any of the other areas in which MIT excels, I’ll encourage her to apply.”