Dr. Dick Rhoades

Research Professor, Management Department in memoriam


Dr. Rhoades began his Army career in uniform, serving as an Ordnance Officer from 1963-1965. He then became a civilian propulsion research engineer and technology program manager before being selected for his first Senior Executive Service position in 1973 as Director of Propulsion. Subsequently, he served in both of the Missile Research Development and Engineering Center's Associate Director positions - serving as Associate Director for Technology from 1981-1989 and (in his final Government position) as Associate Director for Systems beginning in 1989. As such, he was responsible for all the Center's activities in support of weapon system development, acquisition, and sustainment. In essence, he functioned as "Chief Operating Officer" of the Center, focusing on strategic and business planning, personnel development, and customer relations issues.

    In addition to his normal assignments, Dr. Rhoades served on a number of senior-level ad-hoc groups within the Army and Department of Defense. In doing so, he played a leadership role for over a decade in the development and implementation of strategy for fundamentally restructuring and improving the Army's science and technology organizations. For example, he developed the organizational design and operating concepts used for Army Research, Development, and Engineering Centers, helped to develop the Army's response to the Defense Management Review, and helped to guide the LAB-21 study that led to the formation of the Army Research Laboratory. In 1990-1991, he led an AMC-wide team to convert AMC's Vision¬2000 downsizing concept to reality through the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) process. The BRAC-95 decision to form the Aviation and Missile Command is a direct outgrowth of that planning. He also chaired a tri-service Implementation Panel created to execute quality improvement initiatives (a "Reinvention Laboratory") for DOD laboratories. Under his leadership, this Reinvention Laboratory obtained legislation to permit significant improvements in laboratory construction, personnel management, and research contracting.

    In October 1997, Dr. Rhoades became Director of the UAH Research Institute and was also appointed to the faculties of the Colleges of Engineering and Administrative Science as Professor of Engineering Management. The Research Institute has a staff of over 40 professionals and annual revenue of approximately $6 million, primarily from DOD customers. In April 2013, he stepped down to become the Research institute’s Principal Research Engineer. He served as the principal investigator on several engineering research programs and as an advisor on propulsion and systems engineering to Army and Missile defense agency project managers. Dr. Rhoades was a Research Professor of management and taught courses in the MBA program.

    Dr. Rhoades published numerous articles on propulsion and management topics and held two patents on propulsion inventions. His most recent management article, “Cycle Time Reduction in Defense Acquisition” appeared in the September/October 2010 issue of Research Technology Management and was co-authored with Dr. Dan Sherman


  • Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1964
  • M.S., Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1977
  • B.Che.E., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1960

Honors & Awards

  • UAH College of Administrative Sciences Outstanding Graduate Teaching Awards (2003,2006)
  • National Defense Industrial Association John B. Medaris Award (1999)
  • UAH Alumni Award for Outstanding Leadership in Government (1997)
  • Presidential Rank Awards (1986, 1988, 1991)
  • Superior/Meritorious/Exceptional Civilian Service Awards (1993,1983, 1993)
  • MICOM and AMC Commander's Awards (1985, 1991)
  • American Defense Preparedness Association (Picatinny Chapter) Firepower Award (1989)
  • Brooks Prize for Best Thesis - MIT (1977)