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Department: Operations Research and Financial Engineering

Blount-Lyon Operations Research and Financial Engineering

Sally Blount-Lyon ’83

Professor and Dean of the Undergraduate College,
Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University

A multidisciplinary approach

I majored in civil engineering and operations research with a certificate in engineering management systems and also in economic policy at the Woodrow Wilson School. I began in engineering because I was strong quantitatively. At the time, there was a real push to involve women in math and science, so people were encouraging me to pursue engineering.

After completing a few of my engineering requirements, I found that I was drawn to the social science and public policy arenas. I realized that my intellectual curiosity was rooted in the desire to understand how the world works in terms of people, systems, and processes, rather than in terms of mechanics and physics. So, I continued with my engineering studies, but moved out of mechanical engineering and picked up a second focus in economic policy.

After graduating from Princeton, I worked in business for several years and then enrolled at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. I completed an M.S. and a Ph.D. in the field of organizational behavior.

My present job finds me running the Undergraduate College at NYU’s Stern School of Business, where I am dean to 2,300 business students. My academic research in the areas of decision making and negotiations remains a priority. Although I do not get to do as much research as I would like, it is a big part of what pulled me into academics.

A solid base

Princeton provided me with solid fundamentals. I learned how to think flexibly and complexly, which taught me to approach problems from many different viewpoints. Interestingly, when looking back on the policy conferences at the Wilson School, I realize just how much they prepared me for understanding the way decisions are made in large organizations such as universities.

In addition to my on-campus studies, I was also a part of a small group of students who were given the opportunity to study abroad. The international experience really opened my eyes to the broader world outside the United States. Now, I actively advocate that the students at Stern spend a semester, or even two, studying abroad.

“In addition to my on-campus studies, I was also a part of a small group of students who were given the opportunity to study abroad. The international experience really opened my eyes to the broader world outside the United States.”