Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) builder Alan Middleton to retire

Alan Middleton, executive director of the Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) and distinguished adjunct professor of marketing in the Schulich School of Business, is retiring after a 19-year career.

Schulich Interim Dean Detlev Zwick made the announcement earlier this month. “I don’t know how many times I had to tell a journalist asking for some commentary that the best person to speak to about this is Alan. Alan always delivered, too. What I have always valued and admired about Alan is that everything he did – teaching, running SEEC, media commentary, etc. – he did to benefit and support Schulich, his students and his colleagues and staff. He’s the epitome of a team player. I and Schulich will miss him greatly.”

Alan Middleton

Middleton, who earned his MBA at Schulich in 1977, came back to the school in 1991 to earn his PhD after a 25-year career, during which he worked as a marketing practitioner with Esso Petroleum, UOP Inc.; the executive vice-president of J. Walter Thompson (JWT) worldwide; and president/CEO of JWT Japan. Before becoming an assistant professor at Schulich in 1998, Middleton taught at Rutgers Graduate School of Business in the U.S. and at business schools in Argentina, China, Russia and Thailand.

In September 2001, he took over as executive director of the Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC), which trains more than 16,000 managers and executives domestically and internationally.

Schulich Associate Dean, External Relations, James McKellar, a professor of real estate and infrastructure, worked with Middleton to open the Miles S. Nadal Management Centre, located at King and Bay streets in the heart of Toronto’s Financial District, in 1995, as well as the Executive Learning Centre at York’s Keele campus in 2003.

It was, McKellar said, “an interesting journey that reflects the many achievements of Schulich. Alan directly contributed to one of these achievements that is close to my heart and that is Art@Suite 500 … to which Alan has contributed his time and support over these many years. This is but one small example of Alan’s many contributions to the success of the Schulich School.”

As an educator, Middleton taught in Schulich’s MBA and BBA programs, with a focus on international marketing, marketing communication and brand management.

Jane-Michèle Clark, program director of SEEC’s Master’s Certificate in Marketing Communications and a marketing instructor in Schulich’s MBA program, highlighted his many years of success as a teacher. She said students often talk about how much they enjoy Middleton’s classes and admire his “depth of knowledge on many, wide-ranging topics” and his ability to be both thought-provoking and provoking.

Middleton is the author of several publications, including the books Advertising Works II and Ikonica – A Fieldguide to Canada’s Brandscape, and published papers for the ACA/ICA on marketing communications ROI, client-agency compensation strategies and client-agency relations.

He is a co-founder of the ‘CASSIES’ advertising awards, a member of the Academic Committee of Leger Marketing and was inducted into the Canadian Marketing Hall of Legends in the mentor category in 2005.

In 2015, Middleton received the International Association of Business Communicators Toronto Communicator of the Year Award. He is also the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award for services to literacy in 2012, the same year he received a gold medal from the Association of Canadian Advertisers.

Accolades for Middleton in a special online guest book created for his retirement were many, from his staff at SEEC to his colleagues in industry and at Schulich, and noted his generous spirit, his mastery of advertising and marketing and the legacy he leaves as a builder.

Elaine Gutmacher, who for many years worked alongside Middleton as SEEC’s director of operations, said that under his guidance “SEEC grew and thrived, creating new and innovative programs.”

He was commended for developing “a generation of leadership among all areas of the media sector” and for being “full of ideas and imagination” by Trina McQueen, Schulich’s first Bell Media professor in media management.

“For me, he is the spirit of Schulich: open, fearless, smart and always dedicated to excellence,” she said.

Zwick has also announced that SEEC Managing Director Rami Mayer (Schulich iMBA ‘02) has been appointed SEEC executive director, effective Sept. 1. Mayer is also a graduate of York University (BA ’00) and the Australian Graduate School of Management (MBA ’02).