In Memoriam: Edward B. Roberts ’58 SM ‘58 SM ‘60 PhD ‘62

Roberts was faculty in the Sloan School of Management for 60 years

Professor Edward Roberts ’58, SM ’58, SM ’60, PhD ’62, of the Sloan School of Management, passed away on Feb. 27. Roberts had an illustrious career as an academic, serving on the faculty for 60 years. He became one of the youngest people ever tenured at Sloan, attaining full professorship at the age of 33.

Roberts was best known for bolstering the Institute’s reputation through entrepreneurship. Known widely as MIT's father of entrepreneurship, Roberts majored in Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. The Center offers courses, co-curricular programs, and provides accelerators for startups in a program known as ‘delta v.’

In a paper co-authored by Roberts in 2014, MIT alumni had launched over 30,000 active companies employing roughly millions people and generating nearly $2 trillion in annual revenues. “I have helped MIT to become a much more entrepreneurial place,” Roberts said during a 2011 interview for an MIT Infinite History Project.

In an email sent to the MIT community on Feb. 28, President Sally Kornbluth wrote that Roberts was the first person to earn a Ph.D. from the Institute in system dynamics. Roberts boasted a long track record as an “angel investor,” serving on the boards of more than 40 firms and co-founding 14 companies.

“Ed will always be remembered at MIT Sloan as a campus pillar,” Georgia Perakis, interim Dean of the MIT Sloan School wrote along with Deputy Dean Michael Cusumano, in a letter to the MIT Sloan community Feb. 27.

Bill Aulet, Sloan professor and managing director for the Martin Trust Center, said that “virtually everything today in the MIT entrepreneurial ecosystem, from classes to extracurricular activities, has some level of Ed’s DNA at its core.”

President Kornbluth wrote that “there are countless people, on our campus and around the world, who are feeling his loss keenly – from the students he taught this year, to the friends and colleagues who find it difficult to imagine MIT Sloan without his mighty presence, to the thousands of former students whose lives he touched and careers he inspired.” 

Roberts is survived by his wife Nancy, three children, and nine grandchildren. The funeral was held Feb. 29 at Temple Emanuel.