In Memoriam

Ernie Scalberg, 78, former dean of the Fisher Graduate School of International Business at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, died on March 15, 2024, in Carmel, California. During his 15 years in Monterey, Scalberg transformed the MBA into a nationally-ranked program, while earning the respect and friendship of countless faculty, staff, and students. 

“In the age of hyperbole, simple words often lose their meaning. In the truest sense, Ernie Scalberg was a kind, decent, gracious, honorable, and gentle man,” said Frederic Kropp, emeritus professor of entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation. “He had a strong sense of right and wrong and always chose the right path, even when it was to his detriment. He was a strong supporter of students, faculty, and staff. He was loved and respected.”

Born on May 18, 1945, in Hibbing, Minnesota, Scalberg arrived at MIIS in August 2001 with a reputation for taking MBA programs to the next level. As dean of the graduate school of business administration at Fordham University from 1994-2001, he launched an international MBA program with Beijing University and established partnerships with other global affiliates. He also turned Fordham’s part-time business school into a comprehensive full-time executive MBA program, resulting in a first-ever national ranking that remained throughout his tenure.

Scalberg experienced similar success as associate dean of the business school at UCLA, where he established an executive MBA program and more flexible pathways for working professionals. In 1990, he moved to Hong Kong for three years to create a new school of business in a partnership between UCLA and the local government at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  

Scalberg wasted little time implementing similar programs at MIIS, expanding specialized non-degree programs in the areas of language training, translation and interpretation, international policy, and business. The program received AACSB accreditation in 2002. 

Jill Stoffers, senior director of institutional partnerships at MIIS, said Scalberg became known for building highly effective, cohesive teams among faculty, staff and students that elevated the entire program. 

“Since I heard of Ernie’s passing, I’ve been thinking back to some of the fun and memorable times we had on his team,” said Stoffers. “Under his leadership, each semester we augmented new student orientation and added a mixer where new students were invited to bring a beverage from their home country and share about it. We usually concluded the orientation weekend with a meal at his home. We worked hard and had fun together. Ernie was generous, kind, and dedicated to his students, and fun to be around.” 

Scalberg remained dean and associate vice president for academic affairs for external programs until 2009. During his tenure, the MBA program was internationally-ranked by The Economist, Financial Times, Aspen Institute’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Toni Thomas, associate dean of academic operations, said Scalberg was involved in every aspect of the MBA program, from mentoring students to teaching courses on international organizational behavior to overseeing a myriad of capstone client projects. 

“Much of what I learned about higher ed and successful program management was at his right hand,” said Thomas. “Ernie provided strong and collaborative leadership to faculty colleagues in the MBA program and encouraged new ways of thinking about delivering business education. He will be remembered by colleagues and alumni for his many contributions to the program, for his ready laugh, and for his encouragement to look for better ways to pursue business.”

Following his deanship, Scalberg transitioned to research professor and director of the GLOBE Center in the Graduate School of International Policy and Management until his retirement in 2009. He served as an adjunct faculty member until 2016. 

During his career, Scalberg was the recipient of five U.S. government research and project grants and published on a variety of higher education and business issues. He worked as a consultant for business schools and the beverage industry, owning his own wine-exporting business. He also has served as a director, advisor, and trustee for nine non-profit organizations.

“I cannot count the times I benefited from Ernie’s advice,” said Kropp. “He guided me through personal decisions and went to bat for me when it was needed most. In the Jewish tradition, when someone dies, it is appropriate to say, ‘may his memory be a blessing.’ That is already true in Ernie’s case.”