A portrait of Michael Houston

Remembering Professor Emeritus Mike Houston

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Professor Emeritus Mike Houston died on Monday, April 10, following his battle with brain cancer.

A dedicated leader with a passion for instilling a global business mindset in students, Mike played an instrumental role in expanding the Carlson School of Management’s footprint, locally and internationally. 

In 1986, Mike joined the Carlson School as the marketing department chair. He would go on to serve in multiple leadership roles including the Associate Dean of Faculty and Research, founding Academic Director of the Carlson Brand Enterprise, Ecolab-Pierson M. Grieve Chair in International Marketing, Co-Interim Dean, and perhaps most notably, as Associate Dean of Global Initiatives until his retirement in 2020.

Michael Houston
Professor Emeritus Mike Houston

Mike always cited the Carlson School’s global education initiatives as one of the school’s key strengths. As Associate Dean of Global Initiatives, he oversaw the Carlson Global Institute (CGI) and helped usher in the school’s international experience requirement for all students, which began in 2008. Since then, more than 10,000 students have taken part in the initiative, with CGI programs offered in more than 44 countries. Throughout his tenure, Mike was a passionate advocate for the initiative.

In addition, Mike served as academic director of the Warsaw and Vienna Executive MBA programs, which expanded access to the Carlson School’s world-class education. For his dedication to CGI, he received the University of Minnesota Global Engagement Award in 2012.

In his research, he specialized in global branding and cultural differences in consumer behavior, with his work appearing in top marketing journals. His research impact extended to his service on multiple editorial boards, including the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, International Journal of Research in Marketing, and the Asian Journal of Marketing.  

Before the Carlson School, Mike held academic positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Texas A&M University, and Western Illinois University. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

His impact on the Carlson School extends to the school’s very foundation. Throughout the ‘90s, Mike chaired the committee for the school’s new building, which opened in 1998. In a testimonial, he shared his pride in the project stating, “We built a structure that will have a lasting impression.” 

It’s fitting to say Mike left a greater impression beyond the building itself. His legacy lives on through his family, colleagues, former students, research, and the lasting Carlson School relationships with universities across the globe.

The Carlson School extends its deepest sympathies to Mike’s loved ones during this time. He will be sorely missed.

There will be a funeral service at Kozlak-Radulovich Chapel in Minneapolis on Wednesday, April 26 at 11 a.m., with visitation one hour prior and lunch immediately following. A webcast of Mike's memorial service will be available at this link

Fall 2023 alumni magazine cover

This article appeared in the Fall 2023 alumni magazine

Leaders come in many forms. The Carlson School community shares styles, approaches, and other ways we lead.

Fall 2023 table of contents