FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: George M. Tomczyk, (716) 275-8189
May 20, 1998
William H. Meckling, Dean Emeritus at University of Rochester, Dies
William H. Meckling, dean emeritus of the University of Rochester's William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, died Friday, May 15, at his home in Rancho Sante Fe, California, after an extended illness. He was 76.
Meckling retired as dean and James E. Gleason Distinguished Research Scholar in Management and Government Policy in 1983, and moved with his wife, Rebecca, from Rochester, N.Y., to California.
Meckling served as second dean of the Simon School, then known as the College of Business Administration and later as the Graduate School of Management, from 1964 to 1983. He led the School from a small evening and undergraduate institution to a graduate institution of national stature. Meckling began to build a powerful, influential faculty, some of whom still teach at the Simon School, and he initiated many of the School's fundamental components: the Ph.D. Program in Business Administration and the Executive Development Program, among others. Under his leadership, the School first earned accreditation for the M.B.A. program from the AACSB--The International Association for Management Education and became a member of The Consortium For Graduate Study in Management, enhancing educational opportunities for minorities.
During his tenure as dean, Meckling was also responsible for establishing the School's Center for Research in Government Policy and Business (now known as the Bradley Policy Research Center), which provides a public forum for continued critical examination and appraisal of a variety of public policy issues.
"More than any single individual, Bill Meckling was responsible for defining the character of this institution," said Charles I. Plosser, current dean of the Simon School. "His pioneering work with Michael Jensen on agency theory is part of the foundation of the Simon School's economics-based approach to management education. This area of research continues to influence in a dramatic way the current faculty, ongoing research and programs. It also continues to have
significant impact on scholarly research and teaching at other business schools. Bill was a friend and intellectual mentor to many and he will be deeply missed."
Faculty members recruited to the Simon School by Meckling offered tributes to his memory. G. William Schwert, now professor of finance and statistics and Gleason Professor of Business Administration, described Meckling as a "strong leader for a young school, whose vision of management education and research, founded in the discipline of economics but focused on real management problems, was crucial to the successful development of the School. Also, his strong belief in intellectual honesty and rigor played a significant role in the development of all of the young faculty he recruited, myself included."
Simon faculty member Clifford W. Smith Jr., Clarey Professor of Finance and Economics, commented that Bill Meckling was a "remarkable dean as well as a pathbreaking researcher. He had an incredible talent for attracting bright young faculty, nurturing their development, and continually challenging us to push the boundaries of business scholarship. His vision for management education placed Rochester at the cutting edge of business schools."
"Bill Meckling had an obsession to develop a business school devoted to the rigorous analysis of real business problems," noted Ross L. Watts, professor of accounting, Rochester Telephone Corporation Professor and current chair of the Simon School's Ph.D. Program. "He was singularly successful in this, and the Simon School has since contributed considerably to our stock of knowledge on business problems and ways to deal with them. Bill's emphasis on this investment role of a business school is worth remembering today when leading business schools have de-emphasized this role and are disinvesting."
Jerold L. Zimmerman, Simon School professor of accounting and Alumni Distinguished Professor, called Meckling "the consummate scholar who was constantly probing and questioning, and always stimulating each of us to produce the best work possible. He created an exciting, vibrant intellectual environment where each faculty member was encouraged to interact and create knowledge."
Meckling had research interests in the areas of managerial economics and the economic analysis of law, and his work with Michael Jensen brought the pair international recognition. They received the first Leo Melamed Prize in March 1979 for their paper, "Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs and Ownership Structure." The Melamed Prize was established by the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business to recognize outstanding scholarship by business school faculty.
In May 1979, the Financial Analysts Federation awarded Meckling and Jensen the Graham and Dodd Plaque for their paper, "Can the Corporation Survive?," which was judged the best
manuscript published in 1978 (Financial Analysts Journal). The paper was published as the cover article in MBA Magazine, reprinted with permission by many corporations, institutions and educational organizations, and was widely quoted in the national press.
Meckling earned his bachelor's degree from Westminster College in 1942, which also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1978. He earned his M.B.A. from the University of Denver in 1947, did graduate work in economics from 1949 to 1952 at the University of Chicago, and received an honorary Doctor of Social Science degree from Francisco Marroquin University in Guatemala in 1980.
During his career, Meckling served on the faculties of the University of Denver, Butler University, and the University of California at Los Angeles. Meckling was executive director of the President's Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Forces (the "Gates Commission"), which had a dramatic impact on the termination of the draft and the institution of a realistic pay scale to attract adequate volunteers to military service. He served a six-year term on the National Science Board--the board of directors of the National Science Foundation--and was a member of the Tax Foundation, Inc. Meckling was also a member of the board of directors of Superba Cravats, and a member of the Council of New York State Economic Advisors under Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He was also president of the Center for Naval Analyses, director of its economics division, and senior economist at the RAND Corporation.
In addition to his wife, Rebecca, Meckling is survived by his sons, William (Virginia), Bruce (Jennifer), Greg and Scott; daughter Nancy (Bruce) Littlefield; brother, Ralph; sisters Kathryn (Thomas) Dickinson, Marilynn (Leo) McNeil, and Francey Rothschild; five grandchildren, and 18 nieces and nephews. Prior to his death, Meckling expressed the wish that any gifts in his memory be made to the Simon School.
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