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John E. Jeuck, 1916-2009 Dean of the University of Chicago Business School


John E. Jeuck, dean of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (now the University of Chicago Booth School of Business) from 1952 to 1955 died Friday, December 18, 2009, at his home in Evanston, Illinois. He was 93.

An award-winning teacher and scholar of business history and corporate strategy, his 1950 book “Catalogues and Counters: A History of Sears, Roebuck and Company,” (University of Chicago Press) co-authored with Boris Emmet was widely considered to be one of the leading business histories of its era.

Jeuck spent most of his life on or near the University of Chicago campus. He was born at the University’s hospital, attended high school at De La Salle Institute and Parker Experimental School on the south side of Chicago and then enrolled at the University of Chicago where he received three degrees, an AB, MBA and PhD. (In addition to his University of Chicago degrees, Jeuck was awarded an honorary A.M. degree from Harvard University in 1955.)

During WW II he spent five years in the Navy with the last three as an officer aboard a destroyer escort in the Pacific.

He joined the Chicago faculty in 1946 while completing his PhD at the business school.

He remained on the faculty until 1988 except for a three-year break from 1955 to 1958 during which he taught at Harvard Business School. At the time of his retirement he was the Robert Law Professor of Business Administration.

As dean Jeuck streamlined the school’s curriculum, focused on faculty recruitment and opened a new downtown Chicago campus (which today has evolved to be the Gleacher Center). He then returned to teaching where he remained one of the highest-rated professors in the school. Jeuck’s focus on faculty led him to eliminate a major obstacle to faculty retention. At the time, professors could earn a great deal more as consultants than as academics, but faculty in the 1950s were required to turn over their consulting fees to the university. Under this rule, known as the 4E contract, “I paid the university more than they paid me,” Jeuck recalled in the book “Taking Stock: A Century of Business Education (1898-1998) at the University of Chicago.” Faculty were often tempted to leave or resisted joining, so he negotiated an end to that contract.

Another of his significant contributions occurred after he retired from teaching, when he designed a new program for students that combined the school’s most generous scholarships to students with an effort to bolster leadership skills. To honor him, friends and former students Philip J. Purcell (former Chairman of Morgan Stanley), J. William Uhrig (Managing Partner of the investment firm Three Cities Research, Inc.) and Peter G. Peterson (former Secretary of Commerce and retired Chairman of The Blackstone Group) provided a majority of the funding to start the program.

The program, called the Distinguished Fellows Program, started in 2003 and provides five top MBA students each year with full tuition, a stipend and an education program to fully develop their potential. This education enhancement includes mentoring from a senior faculty member (very much in the Jeuck tradition).

Besides his book on the history of Sears, Jeuck’s other publications included “Readings in Market Organization and Price Policy” (edited with G. H. Brown and P.G. Peterson), “Richard Warren Sears, Cheapest Supply House on Earth” in An American Primer (Daniel J. Boorstin, editor), as well as articles for professional journals.

In addition to his teaching and research, Jeuck served as a director of The Walgreen Company, several stock fund units of Dean Witter & Company, Midway Airlines, Charles Levy Circulating Company and Maremont Corporation. He was a consultant to more than a dozen companies, including Coca Cola, Inc., IBM, and Sears, Roebuck and Company. He also was a consultant on management education for the European Productivity Agency in Paris, and the U.S.A.I.D., Ford Foundation programs in the Middle East and Latin America.

“The impetus for the Distinguished Fellows Program came from John Jeuck as a legacy of his unremitting commitment to our MBA students,” said Edward Snyder, dean of the school and the George Pratt Shultz Professor of Economics. “The success that people like Phil Purcell, Bill Uhrig and many others achieved over the course of their varied careers is due in no small part to John Jeuck.”

“John Jeuck was a proponent of curriculum experiments that would provide more variety and practical experiences for students,” said Harry Davis, the Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management at Chicago Booth. “He was an eminent teacher whose classes featured a general management rather than a specialist perspective,” said Davis, who serves as faculty mentor for each student selected for the Distinguished Fellows Program.

In 1979, Jeuck received the prestigious McKinsey Award for Excellence in Teaching. “He was the best teacher and friend on the planet,” said Paul Purcell, president and chief executive of Robert W. Baird & Co. and a 1971 graduate of Chicago Booth. “He was a warm, witty friend, inspirational leader of aspiring business people and loving adopted grandfather of our seven children,” said Philip Purcell.

“Jeuck quietly made a profound impact on the lives of his students and friends,” said Uhrig. “Decades later people still remember his course. On a personal level the impact he had on my life included introducing me to my wife and my business.

The impact of the change in employment terms for faculty contributed to attracting some of the best minds in the world to the business school. The Distinguished Fellows Program has the long-term potential to have a similar impact.”

There were no immediate survivors. A memorial service will be held on the campus of the University of Chicago in the spring. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Distinguished Fellows Program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and sent to Gwendolyn Perry-Davis, Chicago Booth, 401 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60611.