A black and white portrait of Professor Emeritus Andy Van de Ven

Remembering Professor Emeritus Andy Van de Ven

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Andy Van de Ven poses with a book in a library
Professor Emeritus Andy Van de Ven

Professor Emeritus Andy Van de Ven died on Saturday, April 30, following a brave battle with leukemia.

Andy is one of the most distinguished and influential scholars in the field of organization theory and management. His research, teaching, and service to the school and the discipline have added immeasurably to the national and international reputation of the Carlson School of Management and the University of Minnesota. 

As the Vernon H. Heath Professor of Organizational Innovation and Change, Andy taught courses on the management of innovation and change, and his seminars on theory building, process research, and engaged scholarship attracted legions of doctoral students across disciplines and around the world. His work changed the way scholars and practitioners think about a variety of phenomena - from how to brainstorm, to the nature and process of innovation, to inter-organizational relationships, and to the nature of theory itself.  

From his arrival in 1981, Andy helped the Carlson School grow its engagement with the business community and strengthen its research. With colleagues, he initiated the Minnesota Innovation Research Program which focused on the process of business innovation from startup to implementation to termination in both the public and private sectors. Corporate partners in this program included 3M, Honeywell, Cargill, and others. In the school, Andy led changes that created a strong doctoral program, and was able to attract and recruit outstanding research faculty, resulting in the Carlson School becoming known worldwide for its scholarship. 

“The essence of life is to pass it on. Most of my professional opportunities have been provided by others and now it’s time for me to pay it forward to the next generation of faculty and students.”

– Professor Emeritus Andy Van de Ven
Andy Van de Ven portrait
Professor Emeritus Andy Van de Ven

Since retiring in 2016, Andy enlarged his influence even more with his work on engaged scholarship, which highlighted the importance of grounding research in practice. He has over 93,000 citations on Google Scholar, with over 25,000 of those in just the last five years. He is the author of six influential books, editor of another six books, author of over 120 articles, chapters, and monographs, and winner of numerous awards, including being named Fellow of the Academy of Management. The 30+ PhD students Andy mentored went on to become influential scholars themselves at top schools such as MIT, Michigan, Wharton, Washington University, and New York University.

Along with his incredible productivity and impact, Andy always made time for others, mentoring junior faculty and students wherever he went. He loved tinkering, fixing old bikes to give them to charity, and he loved being a gentleman farmer, raising horses and cows, and regaling us with stories of auctions and fairs. Through it all, he was a devoted husband and father, and loved nothing better than going fly fishing with his boys in Montana, and being a granddad. 

Andy’s commitment to education and engaged scholarship will forever be part of the Carlson School thanks to a gift he and his wife, Martha, made recently. The Van de Vens are supporting an endowed professorship, faculty fellowships, and a new conference focused on engaged scholarship, taking place this year on June 2-3. “The essence of life is to pass it on,” Andy said in a recent alumni magazine story. “Most of my professional opportunities have been provided by others and now it’s time for me to pay it forward to the next generation of faculty and students.”  

A true Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, May 7th at 11:00 a.m. with an ice cream reception to follow at Wayzata Community Church. In lieu of flowers, Andy’s family is directing donations to Interfaith Outreach or Wayzata Community Church.

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 Discovery magazine

In this issue, new Carlson School research explores how greater connectivity leads to change, and evaluates the efficiency of health records systems and government spending.

Spring 2022 table of contents