Below is the text of a resolution passed by members of the MIT Corporation on the death of Alexander d'Arbeloff, the co-founder of high-tech company Teradyne and eighth chairman of the MIT Corporation.
Resolutions of the Corporation
of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
on the death of
Alexander Vladimir d'Arbeloff
1927 - 2008
Alex d'Arbeloff was a force of nature. We all experienced his laser-like intellect, his wry wit, his insatiable curiosity, his amazing ability to engage, cajole, persuade, educate and enlighten those with whom he came in contact. A personal interaction with Alex was an event not soon forgotten. This visionary business leader and educator, this dedicated family man and loyal son of MIT, passed away on July 8 of this year. He died peacefully at the age of 80 in the company of his wife and best friend, Brit, and his children. He will be deeply missed by legions of friends and colleagues at MIT, in the Greater Boston community, and around the globe.
Alexander Vladimir d'Arbeloff was born in Paris on December 21, 1927 to parents who, after fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution a decade earlier, met and married in France. In 1936, as war began to threaten Europe, the family began a nomadic existence, moving first to Argentina, then to Paraguay, and eventually to the United States, settling in New York in 1940. English was the fourth language Alex learned to speak; but by the time he entered MIT in 1945, he had lost all trace of Russian, French, and Spanish in his speaking - he wanted to be an American, and to fit in like any other young man.
In 1949, Alex earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Management. Soon after graduation, Alex found that he was not particularly well suited to the corporate culture of the 1950s, and he found it difficult to execute poor strategies when he knew he could develop better ones. Consequently, he was fired from three jobs in his first ten years in the marketplace.
In 1960, Alex and MIT classmate Nicholas DeWolf, his alphabetical neighbor in an ROTC line-up, co-founded Teradyne, Inc., a manufacturer of electronic test equipment. They headquartered the company in downtown Boston, eschewing the Route 128 corridor in preference for a walkable commute and lower rent.
Alex became Teradyne's chief executive officer in 1961, its president in 1971 and additionally its chairman in 1977, continuing as president until 1996. His precept that anyone in the organization could have an idea worthy of discussion and action fostered Teradyne's culture of collegiality, cooperation and integrity. By the time of his retirement as chairman and CEO in 1997, the company had become the world's largest producer of automatic test equipment and interconnection systems for the electronics and telecommunications industries.
Throughout his life, Alex and his gregarious and warm-hearted wife Brit, whom he married in 1962, carried out their belief in the importance of civic participation by engaging deeply in educational, medical, cultural and economic development institutions in the Greater Boston community. Beyond their deep involvement with MIT, Alex served as chairman of the board of a number of organizations, including the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Empirix, a Teradyne spin-off company. He was a director and former chairman of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, and a director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. He served as a trustee of the New England Conservatory, the Massachusetts General Hospital, Partners Health Care Systems, and numerous start-up companies.
His honors have been many: he was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Network Communications Hall of Fame, and the recipient of the Lifetime Contribution Award from the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, as well as the John I. Sandson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arthritis Foundation, and the Golden Door Award from the International Institute in Boston. From MIT, Alex received MIT's Corporate Leadership Award, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Award from the MIT Enterprise Forum, and the Bronze Beaver Award, the highest award given by the MIT Alumni Association.
MIT was exceedingly fortunate to benefit from Alex d'Arbeloff's wisdom and insight over a span of three decades. He first became involved with the Corporation in 1980 through his membership on the visiting committee for the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He also served on the visiting committees for the Department of Economics, and of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and on the Corporation Development Committee.
Alex was elected to the Corporation in 1989, became a Life Member in 1994, and in 1997 was elected Chair of the Corporation. As Chair, Alex was ex officio a member of the Executive and Investment Committees and chair of the Membership and Development Committees.
Throughout his five-year chairmanship, Alex drew on his intimate knowledge of the Institute and his deep respect for the scholarly enterprise, as well as his insightful understanding of best business practices and strategic planning. He led the Corporation during a time of challenge and growth in the Institute's finances, its campus, and in the living and learning environment for MIT's students - bringing fresh insights and leadership to all those arenas. He brought new vitality and strength to the visiting committee system by initiating interim reports and more sharply focused agendas. His energetic participation in Institute activities across the country and around the world built new friendships and strengthened existing relationships with graduates, friends of the Institute, and industry.
Throughout Alex's term as chair, his devotion to MIT was matched by his wife, Brit Jepson d'Arbeloff, an alumna of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Beyond her own service on visiting committees, the Council for the Arts, and the Development Committee, Brit has been a vibrant partner with Alex in the affairs of the Corporation.
Their commitment to the Institute has been manifested through a series of exceptionally generous gifts, including the endowment of a professorship in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, support for the construction of that department's Laboratory for Information Systems, which was named in their honor, and by contributions to the construction of the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center.
Their deep dedication to the quality of teaching and learning at MIT was highlighted by the establishment in 1999 of the d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in MIT Education - a gift that has helped catalyze new modes of instruction throughout the Institute. In December 2007, the original TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning) classroom was named in their honor to recognize this transformational gift for undergraduate education. Alex also helped the Institute develop new ways of connecting education with business practice, playing a catalytic role in the development of the Undergraduate Professional Opportunities Program and in the establishment of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation.
When he stepped down as chairman in 2003, Alex was named Honorary Chairman of the Corporation, a title he held until his death. Following his retirement from the Corporation, Alex remained deeply engaged in the life of the Institute, teaching both in the Sloan School and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. And even as illness eventually slowed his step, Alex maintained his keen interest in the affairs of the Institute.
An extraordinary individual in the life of MIT has left us, but we will remember Alex d'Arbeloff and his remarkable leadership, deep devotion and magnificent generosity to his alma mater with profound gratitude and the deepest respect.
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED:
That the Massachusetts Institute of Technology express its sorrow and its deep sense of loss on the death on the eighth day of July, 2008, of its cherished colleague and extraordinary friend, honorary chairman and Life Member Emeritus Alexander Vladimir d'Arbeloff, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
That these resolutions be spread upon the records of the Corporation and that copies be transmitted to his wife, Brit; his daughters Katherine and Alexandra; his sons Eric and Matthew; and to other family members and friends as they may designate.
Dana G. Mead
Kirk D. Kolenbrander
Adopted at a meeting of the Corporation
of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
on the third day of October,
two thousand and eight