One Hundred Presidencies

The INFORMS Miser-Harris Presidential Portrait Gallery honoring a long list of leaders receives a major makeover during a milestone year.

By Paul Gray

Hugh Miser

Hugh Miser

Susan Albin’s current term as president of INFORMS marks the 100th presidency in the history of INFORMS and its two predecessors, ORSA (Operations Research Society of America) and TIMS (The Institute of Management Sciences), making 2010 an appropriate year for updating the INFORMS Miser-Harris Presidential Portrait Gallery. This article describes the updated gallery, some of the many fascinating people who have held the presidential office and how the new version of the gallery was assembled.

The 100 presidencies include 43 presidents of ORSA, 41 presidents of TIMS and 16 presidents of INFORMS (created in 1995 with the merger of ORSA and TIMS). While there have been 100 presidencies, only 89 different people served as president. John D.C. Little and Alfred Blumstein hold the distinction of being president of all three organizations – INFORMS, ORSA and TIMS – while Tom Cook, Merrill Flood, Art Geoffrion, David Hertz, Richard Larson, John Magee and Thomas Magnanti served as president of two of the three societies.

History of the Gallery

INFORMS established a History and Traditions Committee in 1998, three years after the Institute was founded. Arjang Assad chaired the committee, joined by Carl Harris, Randy Robinson and Frank Trippi. One of their major initial tasks was to create an online INFORMS Presidential Gallery that would contain a photo and brief biography of each of the people who had been a president of one of the Societies. By 2002 they had gathered 28 résumés and raised funds to cover expenses. The Gallery was named in honor of two past presidents – Hugh Miser and Carl Harris – who passed away shortly after the committee was formed.

Carl Harris

Carl Harris

The Gallery first appeared on the INFORMS Web site in 2002 and was displayed at the 2002 annual meeting in San Jose, Calif. Unfortunately, work on the Gallery was discontinued after the initial presentation, although the Web pages remained.

This year’s INFORMS History and Traditions Committee consists of Paul Gray (chair), Arjang Assad, Saul Gass and John D.C. Little. They are charged with, among other tasks, updating the Presidential Gallery with profiles and photos of as many presidents as possible while conforming to the INFORMS Web site’s current format. The result of this effort will be available at the INFORMS annual meeting in Austin in November.

The Presidents

Society presidents come in all sizes, shapes and levels of intellectual interest and prowess. INFORMS and its predecessors ORSA and TIMS have been blessed with some true titans of their respective fields taking on the profession’s administrative responsibilities and shaping its identity in their role as president. Following are 20 examples with thumbnail sketches of each. The choices are the author’s. Your list might differ.

The three founding presidents:

  • Phillip M. Morse (first president of ORSA, 1952): Renowned in both O.R. and in physics. Co-author with George Kimball of the first unclassified book published in the field, “Methods of Operations Research” (1951). During World War II, Morse was director of the U.S. Navy’s Antisubmarine Operations Research Group. Morse is considered the “Father of O.R.” in the United States. He authored classic texts in graduate-level physics.
  • William W. Cooper (first president of TIMS, 1954): Developer of major O.R. theoretical and application areas, with long-time collaborator Abraham Charnes, that included the first research on gasoline blending/refinery operations, goal-programming and data envelopment analysis. Author of 500+ papers and 27 books in accounting and management science, and the holder of three honorary doctorates.
  • John D.C. Little (first president of INFORMS, 1995): Chaired the Committee on Cooperation that led to the merger of ORSA and TIMS after six years of meetings. Known for Little’s Law, L=LW. First Ph.D. in O.R. Seminal papers in O.R., traffic signals, marketing and decision support. Little and Frank Bass considered co-founders of marketing science.
Phillip M. Morris

Phillip M. Morse

International and national reputation beyond O.R. (listed alphabetically):

  • Kenneth Arrow: Nobel Laureate in Economics, 1972.
  • C. West Churchman: Co-author with Russ Ackoff and Len Arnoff of first major O.R textbook, and well-known for large-scale systems engineering and philosophical aspects of O.R. First editor of the journal Management Science.
  • Richard Cyert: Major research in behavioral theory of the firm; long-time president of Carnegie Mellon University.
  • George Dantzig: Developer of Linear Programming and Simplex Method; considered the “Father of Linear Programming.”
  • Robert Herman: O.R. pioneer in transportation science. In physics, was awarded the Henry Draper Medal (with Samuel Alpher) in 1993 for predicting that the Big Bang produced undiscovered background radiation.
  • David Hertz: Early researcher in risk analysis in capital investments, as well as the use of computers and artificial intelligence in management science.
  • Charles Hitch: First Rhodes Scholar appointed as Don at Oxford, chief economist at RAND Corporation, DoD Comptroller who brought O.R. to the Department of Defense (Programming-Planning-Budgeting-System); president of the University of California.
  • George Kozmetsky: Founder of Teledyne; dean, College of Business Administration, University of Texas at Austin; founder, IC2 Institute, venture capitalist, early research in smart robotics.
  • John Magee: First O.R. hire at the first O.R. consultancy group, Arthur D. Little; president, chairman and CEO of Arthur D. Little when he retired.
William W. Cooper

William W. Cooper

Innovators (listed alphabetically):

  • Russ Ackoff: Co-author with C. West Churchman and E, Leonard Arnoff of first O.R. text. Early and successful promoter of O.R. at Case Institute of Technology and at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
  • Frank Bass: Modeler of new product growth. Co-founder with John Little of marketing science as a field and of the journal Marketing Science.
  • Al Blumstein: Director, Science and Technology Task Force, President’s Commission on Law Enforcement; initiated systems research of the criminal justice system; key researcher in public safety and urban studies. President of all three societies.
  • Seth Bonder: Major post World War II contributions to the modeling of military combat operations and planning for the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense; applied these concepts to the military health services system and national health care. Founder and president of Vector Research, pre-eminent military O.R. consultancy.
  • Abe Charnes: Pioneered, with William Cooper, the blending of gasoline/refinery operations, goal programming, data envelopment analysis and other theoretical and applied O.R. developments.
  • Gerry Lieberman: Founded the Stanford O.R. program. Co-author, with Fred Hillier, of a standard and popular O.R. text, “Introduction to Operations Research.”
  • Tom Magnanti: Research in network flows and combinatorial optimization, network design and transportation planning. Former dean of the School of Engineering, MIT. Current president of the newly established Singapore University of Technology and Design. Former editor of Operations Research.
  • Hugh Miser: Known as “The Sage of O.R.” Co-author, with Edward Quade, of the three volumes of “Systems Analysis.” Former editor of Operations Research.
John D.C. Little

The list illustrates the diversity of contributions to society and to the OR/MS field by the INFORMS/ORSA/TIMS presidents. You will find much more when you visit the Gallery’s Web page.

University Affiliations and Gender

In terms of where they received their Ph.D.s, 23 of the 89 presidents hail from either MIT (12) or Stanford (11). Similarly, MIT (15) and Stanford (13) account for 28 of the 100 presidencies (again, accounting for people who served multiple terms). Columbia University produced eight presidencies, Princeton had seven (mostly in the early years) and Cornell turned out five. Together, MIT, Stanford, Columbia, Princeton and Cornell account for close to half of the presidencies (48 of 100) and presidents (40 of 89).

Six institutions each graduated three presidents: California-Berkeley, Case Institute of Technology (now Case-Western) Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Illinois, Ohio State and Texas-Austin. Seven presidents did not have a Ph.D.

Based on their records, ORSA and TIMS would fail any gender equality test. Only one woman (Judith Liebman in 1987) served as president of ORSA, and no woman was ever elected president of TIMS. However, both TIMS and ORSA had women at the helm of their respective offices for long periods of time, including Mary DeMelim, who served as executive director of TIMS from 1968 to 1994, and Patricia Morris, the executive director of ORSA for much of that same timeframe.

C. West Churchman

INFORMS’ record for gender equality is considerably better, especially in recent years, as Karla Hoffman (1998), Brenda Dietrich (2007), Cynthia Barnhart (2008) and Susan Albin (2010) all were elected to the Institute’s highest office. When President-Elect Rina Schneur assumes the presidency on Jan. 1, 2011, she will be the fourth woman to serve as president of INFORMS in five years.

Inside the Gallery

Expected to be posted and ready for viewing in November (check for updates and the Gallery’s specific URL), the online Gallery will begin with a screen of photos of all the presidents. Clicking on a particular photo will bring up that president’s page. To explore all the presidents in one of the societies, click on the Society’s name.

For each president, their Gallery page will provide a wealth of information, including the date(s) of their presidency, their place of employment and the positions they held, their achievements and honors, their specific accomplishments for the Society, and where and when they received their academic degrees.

Since ORSA and TIMS both started more than 50 years ago, it was difficult to find information about some of the presidents. Fortunately, the original Gallery contained the first 10 presidents of ORSA and TIMS and a few later than that.

George Dantzig

George Dantzig

Other sources proved helpful. The Kimball medals have been awarded since 1974, many of them to Society presidents. The Kimball Medal citations proved to be a rich source of information. OR/MS Today began publishing in the early 1970s, but is available electronically only back to 1995. As a result, there is a major gap in the 1960s in information between the original Gallery and available data. For some presidents, it involved detective work. Here we used Google and the Wikipedia extensively. In a few cases, we could reach presidents who were still alive from e-mail and phone numbers in INFORMS’ files. Some presidents are seriously ill and did not respond.

For a few people, little could be found. Part of the problem is that INFORMS stores all ORSA and TIMS archives in a mountain in West Virginia. Unfortunately, the archives are not indexed and are hard to access. Therefore, we have sparse information about the contributions of the following presidents to their respective Societies: ORSA — Alexander Mood, 1963; George Shortley, 1965; John Walsh, 1967; Joseph Engel, 1968; Thomas Caywood, 1969; Hugh Bradley, 1985; TIMS – Robert Dorfman, 1954; Herb Ayres, 1973. If you have data about any of these presidents please send it to

Russ Ackoff

The History and Tradition Committee intends to make the Gallery a living document, keeping a record of the lives of presidents who served the organization(s) in the past, as well as those who will serve in the future. The committee plans to have a nearly complete Gallery ready in time for the Austin meeting for viewing at the INFORMS booth.

Paul Gray ( is chair of the INFORMS History and Traditions Committee and editor of Tutorials in Operations Research. He was president of TIMS in 1992-93.