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Alan Merten, former Johnson dean, dies at 78

Alan G. Merten, who served as the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management from 1989 to 1996, died May 21 in Naples, Florida, of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 78.

Merten, who also was a professor of information systems in Johnson and the College of Engineering, left Cornell to become president of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he served for 16 years.

Alan G. Merten

A hallmark of Merten’s deanship at Cornell was his support for diversity within business education. He encouraged students, faculty, staff and corporate executives to promote inclusivity of gender, culture and race. He also increased direct interaction of business executives with students and faculty.

“Alan Merten served Johnson at a critical time in the life of our school,” said Mark Nelson, the current Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean. “Under his leadership, the Johnson School secured its move to Sage Hall and commenced key programming such as the Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows program. Alan was a compassionate and forward-thinking leader. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sally, and the Merten family.”

At the university level, Merten was a member of the Strategic Planning Task Force, the Budget Planning Task Force and the Quality Improvement Program Council. He served as chair of the Information Technology Review Team and the Entrepreneurism and Personal Enterprise Program.

His service to higher education extended beyond the Cornell campus. He was the co-founder of the Minority Ph.D. Project and served in multiple roles for the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, as chair and as a member of the Accreditation Study Task Force.

Prior to joining Cornell, Merten was dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Florida and associate dean for executive education and computing services at the University of Michigan.

His researched focused on information systems design, data management and organizational policies for information technology.

He earned a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1970, an M.S. from Stanford University in 1964, and his undergraduate degree in mathematics from Wisconsin in 1963.

He is survived by his wife, Sally, two children and four grandsons.

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Gillian Smith