Linda G. SpragueSeptember 27,2013
Linda G. Sprague
Linda G. Sprague
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Professor Linda Greiner Sprague of Cambridge, Mass., a pioneer in the fields of Industrial Management and Executive Education for four decades and on three continents, died Sept. 9, 2013, at Belmont Manor in Belmont, Mass.
Linda was born in Barre, Vt., to Rachel Bilodeau Greiner and Ernst (Dan) Greiner. Even as a young child, she was fascinated by the manufacturing side of her family’s granite business. After graduating from Spaulding High School in 1956 as valedictorian, Linda enrolled at MIT as one of a very few women among 7,000 students, and one of even fewer studying Industrial Management. Linda served as Editor-in-Chief of MIT’s student paper, managed the student radio station, and won MIT’s Karl Taylor Compton Award for service to the Institute, all three “firsts” for a woman. At MIT, she met her future husband, Christopher Sprague.
After earning an MBA from Boston University in 1967, she became the third woman ever admitted to Harvard Business School’s Doctoral program, at a time when women were still not allowed to teach there. While still at Harvard, Linda was hired at the graduate business school at the University of New Hampshire (formerly the Whittemore School). As a Professor of Operations Management, she would ultimately enrich UNH for three decades with her global perspective.
In 1977, Chris suffered a massive stroke that would leave him physically incapacitated and hospitalized for 28 years until his death. Linda personally involved herself in his treatment plan, building on the medical knowledge she gained while doing her dissertation on capacity planning for hospitals. Demonstrating her characteristic resolve, she pressed ahead with her work to provide for her children, and to ensure that Chris would always have the best possible care.
Linda’s enduring relationship with China began in 1980, when she was invited by the U.S. Commerce Department to join a team of U.S. professors to create China’s first formal management training program in Dalian. The year 1980 was an extraordinary time to be in China, not long after the end of the Cultural Revolution. While in Dalian, Linda took every opportunity to learn about China’s manufacturing base by getting right onto the factory floor. Linda was never happier than when she donned her hard hat and watched the manufacturing “action” up close.
Linda spent most of the next two decades teaching at UNH, while also teaching at and creating partnerships with European universities including IMD in Switzerland, Cranfield in England, and IESE in Barcelona. She also consulted extensively for clients large and small around the world. At UNH she would develop several important programs, including the Executive MBA Program and Manchester Manufacturing Management Center. She would be named Professor Emerita in 2006.
In 1997, Linda was invited to join the faculty of the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai (CEIBS). At CEIBS, Linda taught and held key positions which contributed to the school’s development: writing CEIBS’ Articles of Association, serving as the first Chair of the Accreditation Committee, and writing its Strategic Plan. When Linda left in 2007, she was named the first professor Emerita of CEIBS.
Throughout her career, Linda devoted tremendous energy to professional organizations dedicated to developing the implementation and teaching of industrial management best practices, including the Decision Sciences Institute and the International Society for Inventory Research. She was proud to be named a Fellow and serve as President of both bodies.
After her retirement, Linda returned to her home in Cambridge. In 2011, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and moved to an assisted living facility in Cambridge, where she lived comfortably until shortly before her death.
Linda’s husband Chris died in 2005. She is survived by her son, James Sprague and his wife Kim in Massachusetts; daughter Barbara Naeger and her husband, John, of New Hampshire; and five grandchildren. Memorial services will be held at a later date.
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