Abel Jeuland (1949-2020)
Abel Jeuland was a distinguished professor and scholar in marketing (marketing science.) He joined University of Chicago’s faculty in 1975 after his doctoral degree under Frank M. Bass and he retired from Chicago after forty years of teaching, research and service. At the time of his death, Abel Jeuland was Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing Emeritus.
Abel was “one of the “famous trio” of Frank Bass students who accepted faculty positions at some of the nation’s premier business schools in 1975,” as pointed out by Mike Hanssens, who was two years junior to Abel in Bass’ doctoral program at Purdue and is now Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA. The other members of the “famous trio” were Dave Reibstein who joined HBS, and Dick Wittink who joined Stanford. 1975 was a singular year in Bass' doctoral program. Joe Dodson, the fourth doctoral student and a classmate of the "famous trio" also completed his program in 1975 but after a year of work in industry he joined academe in 1976 at Northwestern University.
Prior to his doctoral degree from Purdue, Abel earned a license in business management in 1972 while simultaneously earning an advanced degree in engineering from École Central Paris with a specialization in advanced mathematics.
University of Chicago has summarized Abel’s research contributions thus: “He did research on the creation and use of analytical tools to approach such marketing issues as forecasting, competition, and product design and diffusion. He also worked on the mathematical modeling of brand choice, promotions, and distribution channels. On the advisory board of Marketing Science, he wrote and reviewed regularly for scholarly journals in marketing, operations, and management.”
Abel’s analytical and mathematical abilities were state of the art and contributed deeply to his intellectual output in examining addressing business/marketing phenomena. Robert (Bob) Dolan, a former colleague of Abel and the Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard Business School, speaks admiringly of Abel’s “astounding” technical skills, and his warm collegiality, “I had the good fortunate to write a number of papers with Abel during our days together at the University of Chicago (1976 to when I left in 1980.). Abel had an astounding range of technical skills enabling us to take on some more complex formulations than I could ever crack on my own. Optimal control methods were not exactly my strong suit, so I was happy to rely on him for that. But he said, he really has to know how to do this. Let me teach it to you and he did.”
Pradeep Chintagunta, a colleague of Abel and Joseph T. and Bernice S. Lewis Distinguished Service Professor of Marketing at University of Chicago reinforces Bob’s sentiments and speaks with a sense of gratitude about Abel’s collegiality and constructive critique, “Abel was generous with his time. He was always willing to listen to new research topics and would provide his signature frank and unvarnished comments. This made his feedback particularly valuable. Having served as an AE for Marketing Science he was also very familiar with the review process and was willing to share his insights. He was also keen on collaborating with doctoral students.”
Gurumurthy Kalyanaram (G.K.), a student and a faculty colleague of Frank Bass has this observation, "Abel's contributions to stochastic modeling in marketing are fundamental. Bass argued in his seminal paper, The Theory of Stochastic Preference and Brand Switching (Journal of Marketing Research, 1974), and subsequnet work that all consumer choice decisions and outcomes are probabilistic. Here, Abel had much to say. Abel produced a series of papers in 1970s and 1980s arguing and applying the principles of stochasticity to marketing phenomena. This portfolio of research output includes Equilibrium stochastic choice and market penetration theories: derivations and comparisons (with Abel Jeuland et.al., Management Science 1976), A multiband stochastic model compounding heterogeneous Erlang timing and multinomial choice processes (with Abel Jeuland and Gordon Wright, Operations Research 1980), and An investigation into the order of the brand choice process (with Manu Kalwani and Moshe Givon, Marketing Science 1984.)"
Abel was not just an amazing mathematical/marketing scientist, he was also a man of great curiosity and eclectic tastes. In this age of hyper-specialization, Abel’s renaissance-like ability to engage in a range of topics and themes was particularly impressive and refreshing. Harry Davis, a colleague of Abel for 40 years and Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management at University of Chicago, describes this eloquently, “I knew Abel for over 40 years. What struck me was his openness to ideas and to the world around him. He had deep intellectual curiosity very broadly defined. That’s a quality that is too often in short supply given the rewards for being a specialist. We were all beneficiaries of his breadth, both professionally and personally.”
As a man of eclectic interests, physical fitness too was a natural passion. As Pradeep recalls affectionately, “He was an avid runner. He regularly participated in the Chicago marathon and placed very well in the age cohort he participated in. Hyde Park dwellers would often spot Abel running along in his signature shorts.” John Norton, who was a visiting faculty member at the University of Chicago in 1991-1992, also recollects that passion for running. “Abel and I used to go on long runs on the paths along Lake Michigan. He wanted to run his first marathon, so I was sort of training with him, having run a few myself. Abel, it turned out, was a very strong runner, much stronger than me. In the 1991 Chicago Marathon, his first, he crossed the finish line in about 3 hours. That's 26.2 miles at an average pace of 6:50 per mile. After the race, as we were driving home, I asked what he would do now. ‘Take a shower and relax with a good Bordeaux.’ A Frenchman to the core.”
And this beautiful reflection from William L. Moore, a fellow doctoral student at Purdue, and now David Eccles Professor of Marketing (emeritus), David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah, “Abel, our wives, Jane and Maretta, and I were all opera fans. During our PhD program, we drove down to student operas at Indiana University several times. I remember good conversations about everything non-academic on the way down and at supper. Enjoying the opera. Then, fighting to keep awake on the way back that night. They were a great couple.”
Abel Jeuland also served the community in many ways. He was a founding member of EFAC, the French-American School of Chicago, and served on their board as president and treasurer.
How do Abel’s doctoral colleagues from his Bass’ days at Purdue remember him? With much respect and love.
Mike Hanssens recalls Abel’s “formidable mathematical skills” and his French persona. “Abel Jeuland was a fellow European PhD student at Purdue when I joined that program. Abel had formidable mathematical skills which, combined with his thick French accent, made him quite unique in our doctoral student community. As I got to know him better, I learned about his pride of being a “Breton”, i.e., a native of the French region of Brittany. I kept up with Abel throughout his academic career, all of which was spent at the University of Chicago.”
Dave Reibstein, a doctoral classmate of Abel, and now William Stewart Woodside Professor at University of Pennsylvania, calls Abel “wickedly smart.” “Abel was the quite one of the group of three of us. It was not that he didn’t have much to say, it was that he didn’t waste his words on frivolity. He was wickedly smart. So, when he did speak, everyone listened. Abel, Dick Wittink, and I were in such a unique class. While Abel was a serious student, he had such a subtle sense of humor. I also remember one Krannert wide doctoral student picnic and Abel and Dick Wittink relished in playing soccer with the American who always thought football was to be played with a helmet as they danced around me with the ball.”
G.K. Kalyanaram remembers this conversation with Abel when someone asked Abel about on how his French accent impacted his teaching, he simply responded "That makes the students listen to you more carefully. Makes them more attentive."
A man known for his precocious mathematical skills, eclectic tastes, keen sense of humor, a love for all that is French, and distinction and grace, Abel enriched the scholarship and the larger community. “A class act all around,” as Bob Dolan so eloquently summarizes the life and contributions of Abel.
Gurumurthy Kalyanaram (G.K.)
Dated: September 2021