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A History of the Tauber Institute at Michigan Ross

Graphic image that reads A History of the Tauber Institute and the Michigan Ross logo

The concept for a multidisciplinary business and engineering enterprise at the University of Michigan was born in November 1991 as a result of a joint meeting between the College of Engineering and Business School advisory boards. Through the course of many more meetings, the goals, core curriculum, and organizational structure of a new program called Michigan Joint Manufacturing Initiative was launched in 1993.

Creation of the Tauber Institute 

Joel D. Tauber earned his BA '56, MBA  '62, and JD '59 from the University of Michigan. After taking over a manufacturing business, the realization set in that there were gaps that he needed to fill. 

“I had to develop my own training program, because what I learned at business school didn't prepare me to understand the whole organization,” Tauber said.

Tauber believed in the multidisciplinary model of MJMI so much that he made a $5 million pledge to ensure the efforts were sustainable. The University honored him by renaming the program the Joel D. Tauber Manufacturing Institute.

In the early 2000s, supply chain and operations management and engineering jumped to the forefront of what the Tauber Institute was providing, and with manufacturing about to evolve, the Tauber Institute for Global Operations was created. 

The Tauber Project

The institute quickly became one of the top multidisciplinary programs in the country. It was the only major manufacturing program that offered a full range of degree options for both graduate and undergraduate students. In addition to the degree requirements, students completed an intensive leadership program, known as the Tauber Project,  in engineering and business which culminated in a team-based, paid internship with a high-profile company. Though traditional manufacturing companies were key players in the early days of the institute, companies in  tech, transportation, healthcare, private equity, food and beverage, and other industries also joined the program.

The success of Tauber team projects played a major role in the institute gaining acceptance. Once the students heard about the program’s multidisciplinary details, they gravitated toward the institute. Companies looking for a more well-rounded job candidate were also eager to participate.

More than just internships, team projects were (and continue to be) at the heart of the Tauber Institute’s philosophy, which focuses on teamwork, cross-functional challenges, and operations and supply chain impact. Students from both the Ross School of Business  and the College of Engineering work together to address a significant problem identified by a company with strategic, analytical, operations, supply chain, and often sustainability components. By the conclusion of the project, they have created and implemented a comprehensive solution with  significant impact on the company's performance and bottom line.

Evolving into the Future

During its 30th anniversary, the Tauber Institute for Global Operations proudly welcomed back Joel Tauber to address the SPOTLIGHT! attendees and present the award to the 2023 team project competition winners. 

“This is truly a great program,” said Tauber. “There are more than 1,500 graduates in the program. We've revolutionized teaching in general, by the experimentation we've done in the institute. Action-based learning started with us, and it’s now in other business schools around the country. We created a collaboration between schools. They’ve discovered that together, you can accomplish much more.”

Project sponsors continue to see the value that team projects bring.

“The Tauber Institute is uniquely positioned to develop multidisciplinary leaders from the business and engineering schools who are ready to lead through this transformative time in operations and supply chain management,” said Anne Partington, managing director and head of industry partnership of the Tauber Institute. “Our graduates possess the technical expertise and leadership acumen necessary to propel organizations worldwide to achieve next-level results.”

As the Tauber Institute for Global Operations and its alumni base continues to grow, the Institute’s impact on excellence reverberates throughout the industry. 

Documents & Links
Tauber Institute for Global Operations Video on the Tauber Institute