after 40 years, MEDS Professor Stanley Reiter leaves a legacy
of research excellence rooted in mathematical study
Reiter arrived at Northwestern in 1967, its business school
was undergoing a transformation, one that he was expected
corporate world was growing increasingly complex, demanding
that management education be grounded in training far more
rigorous and analytical than anything seen at these schools
during the preceding half century. To produce the desired
candidates, Northwestern was dropping its undergraduate business
program in favor of a graduate curriculum. Designing those
courses would require uncompromising architects willing to
take up the challenge to dismantle moribund models in favor
of novel ones.
had already proven capable of shaking up the status quo. At
Purdue University since 1954 — the year after earning
his doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago,
where he also had been part of the Cowles Commission for Research
in Economics — he was part of a team that created the
Department of Economics, laying the foundation for what would
become the Krannert School of Management. Now, Northwestern
looked to him to create an entirely new department within
its nascent Graduate School of Management.
Economics and Decision Sciences (MEDS), would bring an
unprecedented level of mathematics — including game
theory — to bear on business study. Reiter spearheaded
the effort, recruiting some of the brightest young quantitative
talent, including David Baron, Ted Groves, Morton
Satterthwaite, Nancy Schwartz, and others. Doing so altered
the entire school.
Reiter's arrival here in 1967 was a watershed event,"
Magee, the Keith I. DeLashmutt Distinguished Professor
of Accounting Information and Management, has said. "Over
the next 15 years, he and his fellow MEDS faculty members
built arguably the best economic theory department in the
all other departments had to measure up to the standards set
by MEDS, as young, discipline-based researchers became the
norm at Kellogg.
who this year is retiring after 40 years of service to Kellogg,
recalled the early formative experiences as an economics instructor
and research associate at Stanford University from 1950-1954.
was affiliated with the applied math and statistics departments,"
said Reiter, the Morrison Professor of Economics and Mathematics.
"David Blackwell was there, Ken Arrow. These experiences
introduced me to a range of subjects that are foundational
to lots of things that go on — or should go on —
in schools of management. And that's what I saw as my mission
at Kellogg: to bring in the people and create a department
out of the ashes of the old establishment."
MEDS flourished, Reiter, who held a joint appointment with
the departments of economics and mathematics in addition to
his role at the Graduate School of Management, helped expand
its influence. He established the Center
for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management.
The interdisciplinary center opened in 1972 and spurred scholarship
in mathematical economics and management science.
center not only served to unify all this thought at the university,
but it became a hot place for economic theory and O.R. and
statistics and mathematical economics," recalled Reiter.
"We published a series of discussion papers that were
sent all over the world."
the legacy of these efforts remains evident throughout Kellogg,
which honored the former MEDS Department chair by instituting
Reiter Best Paper Award in 2002. The annual award is bestowed
upon a Kellogg professor who has published a paper deemed
"best" over the preceding four years. Reiter himself
has published four books and dozens of peer-reviewed articles,
and has garnered a Guggenheim Memorial Grant.
Reiter looks forward to retirement, saying it will allow him
"to give up some of the responsibilities that go with
being a faculty member, without giving up the privileges that
facilitate carrying research and professional interaction."
He also plans to pursue his interests in art.