Schmittlein Is New Sloan Dean, Hopes to Develop More Hands-On Learning

David C. Schmittlein will become dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management on Oct. 15 after working for 27 years at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, including, most recently, seven years as the school’s deputy dean.

Both Schmittlein and his selection committee expressed interest in expanding Sloan’s presence in the world of business and business education. “I would like to make a great school even greater by making sure the world is highly engaged with the school and continuing the school’s commitment to education,” Schmittlein said.

The search committee, comprised of Sloan faculty and business industry leaders, was led by Sloan Deputy Dean Gabriel Bitran and Lawrence Fish, chairman of the Citizens Financial Group. Bitran said the committee sought a dean who would “reach out to the business community and help them engage more with the school.”

Schmittlein said he had three ideas for developing Sloan’s educational system: creating programs that allow students more opportunities to “learn by doing”; increasing opportunities for students to customize their education and gear it toward their career goals; and further incorporating new knowledge created by business leaders inside and outside of MIT into the school’s curricula.

Regarding the undergraduate management program, Schmittlein said, “I want to increase visibility for the program both in Cambridge and the rest of the world … I am proud of the undergraduate program and I want to be sure that that part [of the school] feels valued and gets the attention it deserves.”

Schmittlein discussed possible ways that the undergraduate program could benefit from resources of the Sloan MBA and non-executive degree programs. “I see wonderful opportunity to create learning modules that can be used across sets of programs,” he said, explaining that expensive educational modules developed for non-degree executive programs may be modified for the undergraduate and MBA curricula.

To increase the Sloan school’s presence outside MIT, Schmittlein said he would like to “develop more coherence and outward orientation” in formal communications and develop systems “reminiscent of OpenCourseWare” to share the faculty’s knowledge and research with other institutions through electronic or peer-to-peer networks.

Bitran said he expects Schmittlein to bring the school into “an important introspective period” and be able to focus on “getting the school to be better known and have a better relationship with industry.”

Schmittlein said that his experience at Wharton would help him accomplish his goals at Sloan. At Wharton, “part of my responsibility was related to stimulating innovation in academic programs,” he said. Schmittlein is also experienced in forging relationships with business leaders in industry and academia for collaboration on educational and research programs.

“I am delighted that Dean Schmittlein has agreed to join us at MIT Sloan,” Provost L. Rafael Reif said in a Sloan press release. “He is well prepared to lead MIT Sloan and enhance MIT’s role as one of the world’s most important sources for thought leadership in innovation.”

“I am very proud of the opportunity [to lead the school] and excited to join,” Schmittlein said.