In Memoriam: Melvin Erwin Salveson (1919-2014)

Founding Father of TIMS Mel Salveson, a founder of The Institute of Management Sciences who served as the sixth president of TIMS, pictured last year with his wife Joan and son Eric (above). Dr. Salveson in his younger days (near right) and a more recent photo (far right). Dr. Salveson passed away Sept. 2 at the age of 95.

Founding Father of TIMS Mel Salveson, a founder of The Institute of Management Sciences who served as the sixth president of TIMS, pictured last year with his wife Joan and grandson Eric (above). Dr. Salveson in his younger days (near right) and a more recent photo (far right). Dr. Salveson passed away Sept. 2 at the age of 95.

Melvin Erwin Salveson, a founder of The Institute of Management Sciences who served as the sixth president of TIMS, passed away Sept. 2 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., at the age of 95.

In cooperation with other leaders in the management sciences, Dr. Salveson initiated the founding of TIMS in September 1953 during a meeting he organized at UCLA. “Our purposes were: 1) to fully develop and refine the powerful, evolving scientific disciplines of management sciences, and 2) to enhance and to benefit all of humanity via the increases in productivity that the application of management sciences enable,” Dr. Salveson noted in a 2003 presentation marking the 50th anniversary of the Institute.

“The view prevailed that eventually all managers of significant operations would need to master the power of the basic management sciences, just as competent engineers each have mastered the sciences underlying their engineering discipline,” he added.

TIMS was formally founded at a meeting of more than 50 individuals in New York City in December 1953.

The idea of TIMS grew out of the Management Sciences Research Project at UCLA, which Dr. Salveson founded and directed from 1948-1954. Dr. Salveson also proposed the creation of the TIMS colleges.

In 1995, TIMS merged with the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) to create the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Dr. Salveson was an inaugural recipient of the INFORMS Fellow Award in 2002.

Dr. Salveson started his career as a consultant with McKinsey & Co. in 1948 in New York City, after having served to the rank of lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve (1941-1946). In 1949, he joined the University of California at Los Angeles as an assistant professor of management science and director of management science research, a position he held until 1954. In 1952, he received a Ph.D. in management science from the University of Chicago, where he was influenced by the ideas of his mentors Tjalling Koopmans and Milton Friedman.

Dr. Salveson spent the next three years as manager of advanced data systems at General Electric Co., using the first computer in industry – the Univac I. His work at GE started in Louisville and took him to New York City and later to Los Angeles, where he served as president of GE’s Management Sciences Division, focusing on the application of management science to business problems.

Dr. Salveson founded the Electronics Currency Corporation in 1964, and was responsible for creating the system that facilitated the operation of MasterCard and VISA. Continuing his interests in universal transaction systems, he founded OneCard International, Inc. in 1983 and UniCard System, Inc. in 1993. He was also founder and president of the American Foundation for Education and Economic Development, a not-for-profit organization focused on advancing education.

In addition to his positions of leadership in business, Dr. Salveson served as an advisor on information systems for the U.S. Air Force, the City of Los Angeles and California’s Department of Human Resources. He also served on the boards of several corporations and was a member of the board of trustees of Long Beach City College, which elected him to its hall of fame. He has also taught at Pepperdine University and the University of Southern California.

Along with his Ph.D., Dr. Salveson earned a bachelor’s degree from U.C. Berkeley in 1941 and a master’s degree from MIT in 1947.

Dr. Salveson is survived by his wife Joan Salveson, sons Eric and Kent Salveson, and grandchildren Tara Loftus, Eric Salveson Jr., Emily Salveson and Peter Salveson. ORMS

Sources: INFORMS, OR/MS Today, Tara (Salveson) Loftus