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Aris Melissaratos
Aris Melissaratos (Photo courtesy of Stevenson University)

Stevenson U. picks Melissaratos as interim business dean

Stevenson University, the small but rapidly growing Baltimore County school, has just added a big name to its ranks: Aris Melissaratos.

Melissaratos, a longtime, prominent player in Maryland government and business, has been named interim dean of the Brown School of Business and Leadership, a position he said he would like to fill permanently.

That possibility is on the table, Stevenson officials said, but no decisions have been made. The university still might conduct a national search, but there are no plans for that process yet.

Melissaratos, 70, is probably most well-known for his stint as secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development from 2003 to 2007 under then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

But his most recent gig was at Johns Hopkins University, as the executive-in-residence and senior adviser to the dean of the Carey School of Business. Before taking that job in the fall of last year, he led the university’s technology commercialization efforts as senior adviser to the president for enterprise development.

When Melissaratos was moved to the advisory role in the business school, some observers viewed the change as a downgrade for a man with decades of technology and engineering experience, not to mention a Hopkins degree.

Melissaratos did not characterize the switch as a demotion but said Monday he’s leaving Hopkins because he wanted to do more than be “just an adviser.”

“I’m used to running departments,” he said. “I’m an executive-type; I like to get things done. So [the deanship] is more up my alley.”

That attitude was a big part of why Stevenson contacted him for the role, said Paul Lack, dean of the university and executive vice president for academic affairs.

“He’s not a sidelines guy; he’s a player,” Lack said. “He has a scholarly bent to him, but mainly he’s an action-intellectual. By that I mean, he’s comfortable with ideas, but he likes to do things. … He’s not the sort of fellow to sit on his hands.”

Lack also said having such a well-known and well-respected individual at the helm of the business school could give Stevenson “more credibility in the business world.”

“I think it will filter down to prospective students and their parents that the school is well-led,” Lack said.

Melissaratos graduated from Hopkins in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and started working there in 2007. He said although Hopkins is a “phenomenal institution” that he’ll “always respect,” Stevenson’s offer seemed like the right challenge at the right time.

“This was too good an opportunity to pass up,” Melissaratos said. “Here I’ll be able to really manage the business school and give it direction and improve it from where it is today.”

Not that he thinks Stevenson is slacking — to the contrary.

“I’ve long admired this institution for how dramatically it’s grown over the past few years, both in physical space and in the impact on our state’s workforce,” he said. “It truly provides job-ready graduates in all the fields [in which it offers programs].”

Melissaratos succeeds former dean Norman Endlich, who recently retired after three years in the job. Endlich is now working as music director for his church, Lack said.

Melissaratos worked for more than 30 years at Westinghouse Electric Corp., where he moved up the ranks to become chief technology officer and vice president for science and technology.

He was also a founding co-chair of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, a former vice president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and a founder of Armel Scientifics LLC, which invested in life sciences and technology startups.

“Aris gives us a different kind of leader,” Lack said. “The world tends to look at higher education people as pointed-headed intellectuals. And he’s not that. He’s pragmatic, down-to-earth, action-oriented. That’s refreshing for us.”