Michael E. Thomas

May 10, 1937 – November 24, 2018

Brief Biography

Michael Thomas Presidential Gallery Photo

Michael E. Thomas was the thirty-third president of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA). He studied chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, graduating with a bachelors and masters in the subject in 1962. Thomas we on to receive a PhD in operations research from Johns Hopkins University, where he was a Gilman Fellow. He taught at the University of Florida prior to joining H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Thomas chaired the Stewart School from 1978 to 1989. It was during this period when he served as ORSA President. In 1989, he left the chair’s position to join the office of newly appointed George Tech President John Patrick Crecine. Under Crecine, Thomas served as executive vice president and was responsible for the university’s academic restructuring. In this position, he oversaw the creation of the College of Computing, the College of Sciences, and the Ivan Allen College of Management, Policy, and International Affairs. Thomas’s title was changed to Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs in 1996 as his role was expanded to overseeing all academic and most administrative areas.

Thomas left his provost positions to become executive director of the Center for Internet Research, Policy and Adaptation that focused on Internet-related research. He retired for a brief stint in 2002 before serving as interim chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering.

In 1968, Thomas published Mathematical Methods on Operations Research with Ronald L. Gue. His own research interests have primarily focused on mathematical programming.

For his contributions to the professional operations research community as ORSA President, Thomas was awarded last George E. Kimball medal prior to the merger of ORSA and The Institute of Management Science (TIMS). He was named an inaugural Fellow of their successor organization, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in 2002. 

Other Biographies

Wikipedia Entry for Michael E. Thomas

Georgia Tech College of Engineering. H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering: Michael Thomas. Accessed May 11, 2015. (link)

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Michael E. Thomas. Accessed May 11, 2015. (link


University of Texas, BS & MS 1962

Johns Hopkins University, PhD 1965


Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas


In Memorium: Michael "Mike" Thomas.  Georgia Tech H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, December 6, 2018 (link


Michael Edward Thomas Papers. Archives & Records Management, Library and Information Center, Georgia Institute of Technology. Atlanta, GA. (link

Awards and Honors

Institute of Industrial Engineers Fellow 1988

George E. Kimball Medal 1994

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2002

Professional Service

Operations Research Society of America (ORSA), President 1984 

Selected Publications

Gue R. L. & Thomas M. E. (1968) Mathematical Methods on Operations Research. Collier Macmillan Ltd: London. 

Thomas M. E. (1990) The manufacturing research center at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Interfaces, 20(6): 69-74.