Prior to coming to George Mason University, Merten was the dean of the Johnson Graduate School of Management of Cornell University from 1989 to 1996. He was dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Florida from 1986 to 1989, where he also served as a professor of information systems. From 1970 to 1986, he was at the University of Michigan, first as an assistant professor of industrial and operations engineering. Merten rose to the rank of associate dean in the Michigan Business School where he was responsible for executive education and computing services.
Merten has held academic appointments in both engineering and business, and academic and business positions in Hungary and France.
He has served on business and government councils and committees, holding several leadership roles. Merten was chair of the National Research Council's Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology and a member of the Virginia Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Northern Virginia Technology Council, a real estate investment trust, a mutual fund trust, and a banking institution.
He has been recognized for his contributions to the Northern Virginia technology community, and as a leader of the Greater Washington, D.C., business community. He has also been recognized for promoting volunteerism and service to the community, and for his contributions to the use of information technology in the federal government. Named one of the most powerful people in the National Capital Region in 2007, he was also recognized for outstanding community service and dedication to improving the quality of life in the region.
Merten has an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, a master's degree in computer science from Stanford University, and a PhD degree in computer science from University of Wisconsin.