Sam Fleming ’62, trustee emeritus, dies at 78

Samuel Crozier “Sam” Fleming ’62, a Cornell trustee emeritus, life overseer of Weill Cornell Medicine and a presidential councillor, died May 2 at the age of 78.

Sam Fleming

Fleming was a popular and devoted alumni leader in the Boston area and a longtime supporter of the university across a broad range of departments and programs; he most recently enabled the creation of the Samuel C. Fleming Molecular Engineering Laboratories in Olin Hall and, in 2015 with his wife, Nancy, funded new graduate fellowships in chemical and biomolecular engineering.

“Sam Fleming’s dedication to, engagement with and support of Cornell has helped transform the Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medicine,” said Cornell President Martha E. Pollack. “Through his love for Cornell, he has left a legacy that will endure far beyond our own time at Cornell.”

“In my early years on the board, Sam was a great coach,” said Robert S. Harrison ’76, chairman of the Cornell Board of Trustees. “We frequently sat next to each other at board meetings, and he demystified the proceedings for me. Sam had an enormous impact on me, on Cornell and on so many who knew him.”

Abe Stroock ’95, the William C. Hooey Director and Gordon L. Dibble ’50 Professor in the Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, said Fleming stood out among the school’s alumni “for the vision and creativity he brought to a career that spanned conventional chemicals, pharmaceuticals and innovative business approaches. … His extraordinary generosity to our programs propelled us forward and created a timeless legacy in our school. We will be forever grateful to Sam and admiring of the kind, inquisitive, intense way he interacted with world around him.”

Fleming also was passionate about enhancing research synergies between Cornell’s Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, and endowed the Nancy M. and Samuel C. Fleming Research Scholar Award in Intercampus Collaborations to support that work.

“Sam was a wonderful man and distinguished leader for Weill Cornell Medicine,” said Jessica M. Bibliowicz, chairman of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers. “We are saddened to hear of his passing, and his generous spirit will be greatly missed.”

Fleming, who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Cornell and went on to earn his M.B.A. from Harvard in 1967, was chairman emeritus of Decision Resources Inc., a company known for its therapeutically focused analyses of global biopharmaceutical and managed health care markets. In 1989, Fleming led a buyout of Arthur D. Little Decision Resources to form Decision Resources. He served as its chairman and chief executive officer from its founding through 2003.

Previously, Fleming was a senior vice president and a member of the management group of Arthur D. Little Inc. He also was director of CareGroup Inc., a health network that includes Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center and the New England Baptist Hospital. He wrote and spoke often about managing technology-intensive organizations and the outlook for the health care industry.

Throughout his career, Fleming was interested in the impact of new advancements in life sciences on the quality of health care and analyzing the impact of transforming technologies. He served as a member of the board of directors for the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation with the mission of improving health care quality and access to health care; as chairman of the board for New England Baptist Hospital; and as a director of The Picker Institute, which focuses on improving health care quality from the patient’s perspective.

At Cornell, Fleming joined the board as an alumni-elected trustee in 1997. He was elected by the board for a second term beginning in 2001 and served as vice chairman beginning in 2002. He became a trustee emeritus in 2009, the same year he joined the board of overseers at Weill Cornell Medicine; he was elected a life overseer of Weill Cornell in 2015.

Fleming also served on a presidential search committee and as a member of the Engineering College Advisory Council.

With Nancy, Fleming supported the university’s New Life Sciences Initiative, endowed a professorship and three postdoctoral fellowships in the Weill Institute, and supported a fellowship to support collaborative research between Ithaca and Weill Cornell Medical College. They also supported the McMullen Engineering Scholarship program, the Cornell Botanic Gardens, athletics and Greek life.

In recognition of his long and dedicated service as an alumni volunteer and ambassador, Fleming was honored with the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award in 2013.

Fleming is survived by his wife, two sons and two grandsons. A service will be held at St. Andrews Church in New London, New Hampshire, on June 1 at 1 p.m.

Media Contact

Jeff Tyson