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Remembering Sal Divita

Salvatore F. Divita, Professor Emeritus

The GWSB family was deeply saddened by the loss of Sal Divita, professor emeritus of marketing, who passed away on July 15.  Divita, who taught at the School of Business over the course of four decades, was extraordinarily popular with his colleagues, and especially, with his students, many of who kept in close contact with the professor, years – and decades – after graduation.

A graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, Divita earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from New York University, an MBA from Ohio State University (pursuing the degree while on active duty with the United States Air Force) and a DBA from Harvard School of Business.  He was a full-time consultant at IBM for ten years before teaching part-time at American University and GW.  He became a full-time member of the GWSB faculty in 1972.  Divita retired from GWSB in 2008.

An active member of the American Marketing Association, he wrote a regular column for the association magazine and appeared as a guest speaker at chapters across the country.  A 2008 GWbusiness magazine profile described Divita as “an influential university professor and one of Corporate America’s most in-demand speakers and consultants.”  Divita and his wife Frances were married for 58 years and had four children, ten grandchildren, five step-grandchildren and four step-great-grandchildren.

 “He was almost an institution himself within GWSB, having served here for about four decades,” said Pradeep Rau, professor of marketing and international affairs.  “During that time, he served in many roles including as department chairperson multiple times and as acting dean on one occasion.  He was also the School marshal who officiated at dozens of School graduation ceremonies over the years in his familiar Harvard crimson robe.  Above all, Sal felt a deep attachment to the School and wanted to do the right thing at all times – he will be greatly missed.”

 The GWbusiness article about Divita described in some detail his pioneering research into developing effective marketing tactics and strategies based on understanding human behaviors and personality types – proving, in short, that marketing is a “people business.”   A line from that article serves nicely to describe his legacy at GWSB:

“Educator” or “marketing expert” just won’t do – Sal Divita was a great success in the people business.


Posted by gwsb on August 2, 2011 | Filed under: GWSB News.


  1. Having had the pleasure and the privilege of serving as an active Adjunct Faculty when Sal Divita was Chair of the Marketing Department, I would like to record my deep appreciation and affection for this great educator and finest of human beings. Sal was ever pleasant and jovial, and always supportive of all that we did. Over my few years of working with him, he became a good friend; his demise is a great personal loss for me. As Prof. Rau has noted – Sal will be greatly missed. May his soul rest in peace.

    Shankar A. Iyer
    ITT Corporation

    Comment by Shankar A. Iyer — August 2, 2011 @ 3:26 pm
  2. While a graduate student, majoring in Fiance, Sal was the professor I remembered the most. He was at the head of the line as a teacher and person. I must have been one of his early students, and but for the fact I had my heart set on majoring in Fiance, I would have switched to marketing just becaause of him. My one class with him was one of the most memorable of my GWBS school experience and I would always leave his class on a natural high. MBA 73

    Comment by John J. Skura — August 2, 2011 @ 4:29 pm
  3. As a young MBA candidate in the ’80′s, I came in contact with Professor Divita, not necessarily from a class, but from his continued ability to serve our (GW) community. He conducted a career marketing lecture one Saturday that I attended and it opened my eyes to personal branding. My regret is that future GW students will not learn from his experience and wisdom.

    Rest well, Professor.

    Comment by Marvin Turner — August 2, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
  4. I was a young man without a very realistic world view when I drew Sal as an advisor. Talk about good fortune. He became my advisor for life. Always cheerful and upbeat, he cut right to the chase. At least for me, he was able to immediatly eliminate the BS and bring me into focus. He was one of, if not the most important positive influences on my life.
    Rich Howard
    MBA 1973

    Comment by Richard Howard — August 2, 2011 @ 7:15 pm
  5. While I started my MBA program at GW as a Finance major, one class with Dr. Divita convinced me to switch to Marketing. He was an incredibly dynamic, charismatic lecturer. I had the opportunity to speak with him after I finished my program and had started to teach in an overseas program and he gave me yet more insight and advice that helped me in my teaching. He influenced my life and no doubt the lives of many GW students and it is always sad to say goodbye to such role models. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

    Comment by Jan Beasley — August 2, 2011 @ 11:03 pm
  6. Dr. Divita was the best, most influential educator I encountered throughout my undergraduate and graduate training. A tremendous loss…my thoughts and prayers and with his family.

    Comment by Paul J. Pomeroy — August 3, 2011 @ 8:21 pm
  7. Upon first meeting Dr Divita I was impressed with how genuine, intelligent, insightful and approachable he was. As time passed it became clear to me that first impressions in his case were spot on. He was without a doubt a role model to this Italian America as he was to all his students. He deserved every blessing, which seems to have been many, that he received. ‘Venti favorevole e mari seguenti mio professore’

    Comment by Franc J Pigna MBA '77 — September 26, 2011 @ 12:52 pm
  8. [...] so too, did Professor Sal Divita impart lasting marketing knowledge to his many students over the years at George Washington [...]

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