Courtesy of Yale School of Management

Michael E. Levine LAW ’65, former dean of the Yale School of Management for four years and an expert in airline deregulation, died recently at the age of 75.

Trevor Morrison, dean of New York University Law School, where Levine had been working as a scholar and senior lecturer since 2005, announced Levine’s passing in an email to the NYU faculty Sunday night.

“He was a generous and thoughtful colleague, an original thinker, a lively instructor and a vigorous and active participant in the intellectual life of the law school,” Morrison said. “He will be greatly missed.”

A graduate of Yale Law School, Levine served as general director of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board in the late 1970s and later held senior roles at Northwest Airlines, Continental Airlines and New York Air. Airfinance Journal named Levine one of the 10 most influential pioneers in the history of commercial aviation, and Morrison called him “an expert in airline deregulation” who brought about important changes in the industry.

Levine served as the dean of the SOM from 1988 to 1992 during rocky years at Yale’s business school, which was established in 1976. Current SOM Dean Edward Snyder told the News that although he only personally met Levine once, he heard from faculty and alumni that Levine led the SOM through “one of the tougher periods in the school’s history.”

“The school started out with a broad focus, and now that broad focus makes a lot of sense,” Snyder said. “In a lot of the middle years, there were a lot of productive questions about the school and what it should be doing, but there were also contentious periods.”

Nobel laureate and Sterling Professor of economics Robert Shiller recalled Levine’s tough leadership during this turbulent time. According to Shiller, some students who arrived at the SOM during his tenure found themselves at odds with Levine’s more “selfish approach to business” and protested his leadership. Still, Shiller said, Levine had a significant impact on SOM which garnered widespread respect.

“I believe he was instrumental in changing the focus of SOM … into a school more directed towards preparing young people for successful careers in management,” Shiller said.

In addition to the deanship, Levine also served as George Rogers Clark Professor of management studies from 1987 to 1990 and the William S. Beinecke Professor of management studies from 1990 to 1992. 

SOM professor Stanley Garstka said that Levine had a “dogged determination” and always kept the SOM’s long-term well-being in mind.

Levine earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Reed College in 1962 before attending the Law School. After conducting postgraduate research at Yale and the University of Chicago, he worked in the airline industry and at Harvard Law School, the University of Southern California, the California Institute of Technology and Yale. He is survived by his wife of almost 40 years, Carol Stover Levine, with whom he had two daughters.

Yale Law School will host a memorial service for Levine. The date has yet to be announced.