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Sloan School of Management

Head of the Department of
Business and Engineering Administration
Erwin Schell 1930-1951
Deans of the Sloan School of Management
Edward Pennell Brooks 1951-1959
Howard W. Johnson 1959-1966
William F. Pounds 1966-1980
Abraham J. Siegel 1980-1987
Lester Thurow 1987-1993
Glen L. Urban 1993-1998
Richard L. Schmalensee 1998-2007
David C. Schmittlein 2007-

The Alfred P. Sloan School of Management began in 1914 as Course XV, Engineering Administration, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, within the Department of Economics and Statistics. The concept of providing business training in the academic environment was gaining popularity in the early 1910s and the idea of an engineering administration or a business engineering program at MIT was promoted by several faculty members including Professor Harold Pender of the Department of Electrical Engineering. Pender envisioned that the course would be taught in conjunction with engineering courses. In 1913 an ad hoc committee of the Alumni Council studied the matter and issued a report in favor of a program “specially designed to train men to be competent managers of businesses that have much to do with engineering problems.”

As head of the Department of Engineering and Statistics, economist Davis R. Dewey was in charge of Course XV from its inception. Dewey taught the course with one assistant, initially, but demand for business courses was increasing and by 1916 three new faculty members, also economists, were hired. Erwin Haskell Schell, who was the first Business Management faculty member hired, is widely acknowledged as the first head of Course XV. Schell was hired in 1917 and taught and directed Course XV until his retirement in 1951.

In 1925 a program leading to a master’s degree in management was established. In 1926 the undergraduate courses included marketing, finance, accounting, and the study of economic trends. That same year Schell introduced a new subject that focused on the organization and operation of a small business. In keeping with the MIT methodology of closely relating subjects to practical industrial problems, Schell encouraged successful businessmen to present lectures to the classes and arrange for students to consult with business executives to examine their administrative methods.

In 1930 Course XV became an independent department and was named the Department of Business and Engineering Administration. In 1931 an innovative program for executive development was initiated with the backing of several industrialists. It was a joint project of the Department of Business and Engineering Administration and the Department of Economics and Social Science. It offered one year of graduate study in the fundamentals of management and decision making. The program was aimed at young managers who were nominated by their employers, and was highly competitive. In 1938 the program received full funding by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and was formally named the Sloan Fellowship Program for Executive Development at MIT. The program was suspended during World War II and reopened in 1949.

In 1950 the Sloan Foundation made a gift of over five million dollars to establish a School of Industrial Management (SIM), including a newly refurbished building. The concept of the school was the idea of Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. (class of 1895), who was interested in further developing the close association between science and industry. Sloan sought to correlate the complex problems of management in modern technical industry with science, engineering, and research. The school has traditionally been able to capitalize on this unique approach to attract both students and industry to its wide array of programs.

Edward Pennell Brooks (class of 1917) replaced Schell as head of Course XV in 1951. He became the first dean of the new SIM, he recruited staff and developed the program. The Sloan School opened its new building, E52, in May 1952. A grant from the Sloan Foundation in 1952 provided funds exclusively for research and exploration in the field of Industrial Management. For the first few years the school focused on developing its mission and attracting faculty members. The demand for short, ad hoc courses for upper level managers remained consistently high following World War II and the School continued to broaden its curriculum for management training. In June of 1953 a second one- year program for executive development was initiated. Also in 1953 the faculty and administration began to experiment with shorter executive training courses and offered an intensive three-week course titled Control Problems for the Executive. In March of 1956 Dean Brooks felt the school had sufficient staff and quarters (MIT’s newly acquired Endicott House was to be used as housing) to offer a ten-week pilot course. The course was a success and became the Program for Senior Executives. Two years later, the Greater Boston Executive Program was initiated.

In 1959 Howard Johnson became dean of the school. The following year the school initiated its doctoral program in industrial management. Studies in the program were divided into two broad categories. The first included the disciplines of economics, psychology, applied mathematics, and statistical analysis. The second category included applied management subjects such as production, marketing, finance, and organization. In 1963 a grant from the Sloan Foundation permitted the school to offer doctoral fellowships to attract outstanding young managers to careers in business and research and thereby create a pool of educators both for future management professionals and for serious research in the field. Candidates were required to hold a master’s degree and have several years of significant and successful experience in business, industry, or government.

In 1964 the school was renamed the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, after its benefactor. Throughout the 1960s short executive development programs, aimed specifically at the transfer of modern techniques in areas of specialized concern, grew in popularity. Under deans Johnson and William Pounds (1966- 1980) the Sloan School met the demand by offering a wide variety of executive programs. In addition to the more traditional two-year master’s program, during which most students took a summer position, in 1972 the school offered an Accelerated Master’s Program – an intensive, one-year program for students with several years of work experience. In the mid-1960s the school began to address important management problems in the fields of health, education, and urban and public affairs through its programs and research, and it pioneered the combining of concern for private and public management problems in its curriculum. In 1975 the school offered the Health Management Development Program.

Under Pounds, the school continued to develop its focus on research and the education of management professionals, educators, and researchers. In the late 1970s the school decided to enlarge its physical facilities in order to accommodate the expansion of its programs, particularly the burgeoning two-year master’s program. During this period the school also found that some of its programs had lost their unique niche among business schools and sought to renew their uniqueness by increasing student involvement in research and professional experience through strengthening student writing and speaking abilities, and through increased exposure to practicing managers. To accomplish this, the school sought to increase research relative to teaching for faculty members, improve teaching facilities, increase support staff for specific projects, and increase the school’s visibility. This was done by hiring more faculty, enlarging master’s and senior executive programs, and by strengthening the support organization for all activities of the school. Concurrently, the school sought to increase the relative numbers of female and minority students.

In 1980 Abraham J. Siegel became dean and the process of revamping MIT Sloan’s programs continued. In 1981 the Joint Master’s Program in the Management of Technology was established and remained the only program of its kind for several years. The curriculum for this twelve-month, full-time master’s program was developed by a joint faculty committee from the Sloan School and the School of Engineering. The program was designed for engineers and scientists with five to ten years’ work experience. The objective was to prepare candidates for more senior roles in industry and government, where they would generate and manage technology-based endeavors. In 1984 a program in management science was introduced at the undergraduate level, which greatly increased overall enrollment and attracted increasing numbers of students from other schools at the Institute. Also in 1984, the school adopted a revised core curriculum for the master’s students which enlarged the number of disciplines and applications in the core, and changed the teaching format to a half semester. By the mid-1980s investment banks became the primary employers of the school’s graduate students and the scope of graduate electives was refined to reflect the demand.

Under Dean Lester Thurow (1987-1993), MIT Sloan developed a new strategic vision to reflect the increasingly global nature of the economy. This vision encompassed three central elements: the need for managers to stay on top of technology in order to remain competitive; the increasingly international aspect of all management, given the nature of the economy; and the need for organizations to change in order to cope with environmental changes such as demographics, as well as the need to research how such change should be implemented.

In 1993 Glen L. Urban became dean and initiated a five-year plan with six specific initiatives that built upon MIT Sloan’s existing international focus and inherent strengths, particularly through its relationship to the industrial, scientific, and technological expertise of the Institute as a whole. Urban’s six initiatives were: establish a joint engineering/management degree in large-scale system design; use new technology for teaching; expand international partnerships; align and grow executive programs; enhance and expand the master’s program; and build on the school’s strength in research and application of that research through its research centers.

In 1995 the school offered ten academic programs including the Undergraduate Program in Management Science, the master’s program, the Ph.D. program, the Custom or Short Courses Program, the International Initiatives Program, the Leaders for Manufacturing Program, the MIT Management of Technology Program, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellows Program, the MIT Program for Senior Executives, and the Visiting Fellows Program. The Program for Senior Executives was suspended in May 1995 pending a review of MIT Sloan offerings for senior executives. The dean projected that future offerings would likely be in the form of shorter, more focused programs tailored to the specific needs of corporations, and the university-corporate partnerships which provide one- or two-week courses on specific subjects to the employees of one corporation.

Academic centers associated with the school include the Center for Computational Research in Economics and Management Science; the Center for Coordination Science; the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research; the Center for Information Systems Research; the Industrial Relations Section; the International Center for Research on the Management of Technology; the International Financial Services Research Center; Inventing the Organization of the 21st Century; the Leaders for Manufacturing Program; the Organizational Learning Center; the Program on the Pharmaceutical Industry; the System Dynamics Group; and the Context Interchange Project.

Prepared by the Institute Archives, MIT Libraries