My first contact with SMU is I heard that my old friend Ron Frank had become president somewhere out in Asia. I was asked to write the history of the founding of the TIMS Marketing College there were seven old-timers that were asked while we were all still alive and with some mental faculties left, we were asked to write about how things got started. And since I'd started all this stuff, I did a lot of the write-up and so I went to a mutual friend of Ron's and mine and said, Hey, where's Ron? And so I got his email address and I sent him the paper that I had written. I said, This is going to come out in Marketing Science,and I said, You're mentioned in here but I'm not going to tell you where because otherwise you'll only read that paragraph.So I made him find it.
I had retired and Ron said, I came out of retirement, why don't you come out? Why don't you come out for a week, or a month or a semester, a year, two years? I said, Okay, how about two weeks? So that was, would have been about July '02 and so I came out in September and October for seventeen days.
That's when I kind of discovered that the university was two years old and their students had already won an international competition in Copenhagen, and good grief, that's terrific! What kind of a place are they and I had learned that they had great ambitions. It looked like the undergraduate programme was well established and going, and it was a bright young marketing faculty, the whole faculty was young nothing wrong with that because they were young and ambitious. And so I got to know the marketing faculty, and I got to know various other folks. Pang Eng Fong lived a couple of doors down from me and others, and got to know Bobby Mariano [Roberto Mariano], the dean of economics.
I remember as I was about going to be leaving for the airport [after the 2002 visit] Ron and Chin Tiong [Tan Chin Tiong] whom I Chin Tiong had visited, the provost had visited Stanford, so I got to know him then, and I knew he was here and so the two old friends of mine were the president and provost. And these guys had invited me out and I had a great time and I had finished four papers while I was here, and it was really great. They said, We want to talk to you about something. I said, Okay fine, my plane leaves in a couple of hours. And he said, We'd like you to think about becoming dean and I said What? You must be joking and they said Yes and I said, Look guys, I could come out for a semester or something and teach a course or something but I must talk with my wife, who is also my lawyer, and I have to speak about this before I so anyway. Then I got home and talked to Toby about it, one thing led to another. And she and I come out in January of '03 for a visit. The discussions went on and then in April of '03 they had the press conference, I came out for that and on May 1st I became dean, but I had to still stay in Palo Alto because of SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome]. Because I had already agreed to be at a conference at Harvard, and I thought if I come out to Asia I am liable to get stuck coming or going and not be able to get back. So I came out here in June and my wife followed me a couple of weeks later and we had a wonderful time.