Curt Grimm, Dean’s Professor of Supply Chain and Strategy, was named one of the University of Maryland’s 2010-2011 Distinguished Scholar-Teachers. The honor goes to just five Maryland faculty each year and honors the rare combination of outstanding scholarly accomplishment with excellence in teaching. He will be delivering his Distinguished Scholar-Teacher lecture, “Competition: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” on October 7, 4–5 p.m. in Frank Auditorium, 1524 Van Munching Hall. The event is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow in the Executive Meeting Space, 2333 Van Munching Hall.
Grimm is a familiar face to the Smith community; he has been teaching at every level since he first came to the school in 1983. But his many students never knew about the combination of hard work and happy accidents that put Grimm at the right place in the right time all through his life.
His work ethic was developed early on. Grimm’s chores on his family’s dairy farm included cleaning the cow’s tails—not one of the prime jobs, but one which fell inevitably to the youngest in the family—and chipping frozen silage in the wintertime.
“It did give me motivation to work hard in school and pursue other paths,” says Grimm drily. He paid his own way through the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he got a degree in economics, and then spent some time exploring Europe. A few months later he received a scholarship to study economics at a university in Germany. The courses were all taught in German, but language courses were not included in the provisions of the scholarship.
Dismayed but undaunted, Grimm picked out a language school for himself—and there met his future wife, a Californian studying abroad. When they returned to the States, Grimm worked for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on rail policy, an area of economics that dealt with issues of regulation and deregulation. When Grimm decided to pursue a PhD, his soon-to-be wife expressed a wish to live somewhere a bit warmer than Madison, so off to the University of California-Berkeley they went.
He came to Washington, D.C., to work at the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) with his doctoral advisors, and there meet young Smith professor Thomas Corsi, also working with the ICC, who convinced him that the University of Maryland was the right place to pursue his academic career.
So Grimm joined the business school. At the time it was located in Tydings Hall, and office space was so hard to come by that professors weren’t housed by department, but assigned an office wherever there was space. Grimm’s office happened to be next door to that of Ken Smith, a young management professor with a traditional strategic management background. The neighbors discovered that they had similar interests, and so the lack of office space in Tydings resulted in a friendship that became a long cross-disciplinary research partnership exploring competition and firm-level strategy and performance.
Grimm has had a distinguished scholarly career, both in his collaborations with Smith and a long series of doctoral students in the area of competition and strategic management, and in his work on transportation policy. Few professors are able to consistently make important contributions in two such different fields. Grimm has also served eight years as a department chair and worked with many committees within the university, proving himself a committed advocate for the entire Terp community.
But it is for his teaching that Grimm is beloved by his students. He has repeatedly won Smith’s teaching awards and makes time for students outside of class—advising doctoral candidates, overseeing student clubs, or meeting with prospective student-athletes and their parents.
What does Grimm think, looking back on his remarkably lucky life? “I’m glad I was able to make contributions at all levels of the university,” he says, “teaching and research, but also service. That’s been important and satisfying.”
Grimm lives with wife Sandy in University Park, Md. They have two sons, a cat and a dog. Contact Grimm—who says he loves hearing from former students—at email@example.com.
The Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Program, established in 1978, honors a small number of faculty members each year who have demonstrated notable success in both scholarship and teaching. The University of Maryland has honored the following Smith School professors with this award in the past: Steve Carroll, Ed Locke, Lee Preston, Samuel Kotz, Kathryn Bartol, Maryam Alavi, Ken Smith, Anil Gupta, Saul Gass, Bruce Golden, M. Susan Taylor, and Michael Fu. The Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Program is sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs and administered by the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs.