Altaf Merchant, Ph.D.

Gary E. and James A. Milgard Endowed Dean, Milgard School of Business

University of Washington, Tacoma

Dr. Altaf Merchant has been the Dean of the Milgard School of Business since 2019. Previously he has served as their Associate Dean and Undergraduate Program Director. Dr. Merchant has been with the Milgard School since 2008. As a professor he has taught marketing classes at the undergraduate and MBA levels. He has also held visiting professor-scholar positions at University of Lorraine and Aix Marseille University in France, King’s College in London U.K., and MICA in India. He received his Ph.D. from Old Dominion University in Virginia. Before entering academia, Altaf was a brand marketing manager for more than a decade working with Fortune 500 companies such as Reckitt, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sara Lee. As a marketing manager he launched products and advertising campaigns internationally in Asia, Europe, and Africa for brands such as Lysol, Aquafresh, and Sara Lee.

As the Dean, Altaf has launched several new centers and initiatives at the university level. The Center of Financial Wellness, and Center for Entrepreneurship launched by him are housed in the business school but serve students across the university; similarly, enrolment, and diversity, equity and inclusion enhancing initiatives led by the business school benefit the entire university. He was one of the key architects of the university’s new academic building – “Milgard Hall” which houses the business school, along with engineering and design labs, and auditoriums and student spaces for campus use. Altaf’s strengths include community engagement and fundraising, financial management, entrepreneurial mindset, strategic planning, communication, compassionate team building, and shared governance.

As a scholar, Merchant has been ranked 11th most impactful advertising scholar in the world based on citations. He has published more than 40 peer-reviewed articles and made more than 70 scholarly presentations. Altaf is very involved in the Academy of Marketing Science, Co-Chairing the 2019 Annual Conference, and chairing the Doctoral Colloquium for several years. He is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Advertising Research and serves on the boards of Sound Credit Union, Tacoma’s World Trade Center, and the Museum of Glass.