INFORMS News: In Memoriam - Jack Borsting (1929-2016)

Jack Borsting, an INFORMS Fellow and a former assistant secretary of defense whose extensive and influential professional career included numerous top-level positions in academia, the government and the corporate world, passed away Aug. 16 in Monterey, Calif., not far from the Naval Postgraduate School where he maintained a career-long alliance. He was 87.

Dr. Borsting was the 24th president of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA, a forerunner of INFORMS). In addition to being elected an INFORMS Fellow, he received the Kimball Medal from ORSA for distinguished service to the Institute and the profession, as well as the Steinhardt Prize for military O.R. research.

Born in Portland, Ore., in 1929, Dr. Borsting earned a bachelor’s degree (1951) in mathematics from Oregon State University and a master’s (1952) and Ph.D. (1959) in mathematics from the University of Oregon. He joined the faculty at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in 1959, where he taught mathematics and operations research. At the age of 35, he was asked to chair the school’s Department of Operations Research.

“He immediately began to grow the department’s faculty in response to Navy demand for its curriculum, and to recruit new faculty,” recalls NPS Distinguished Professor of Operations Research Dave Schrady. “Jack set the groundwork for what is now arguably considered the best teaching and research faculty in operations research anywhere.”

In 1974, Dr. Borsting was promoted to provost at NPS, a post he held until 1980. Although he would go on to hold many other prestigious positions throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Borsting maintained close ties to the NPS in some capacity, whether it was on the NPS Advisory Board or on a student’s dissertation committee.

One of his proudest professional moments, according to family members, was when President Carter and President Reagan appointed him assistant secretary of defense (comptroller) for the U.S. Department of Defense from 1980 to 1983.

Dr. Borsting returned to academia in 1983 when he was named dean of the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration, a post he held until1988. From 1988 to 1993, Dr. Borsting served as professor and dean of the University of Southern California’s (USC) Marshall School of Business Administration. Following his years as dean, he continued at USC Marshall as the E. Morgan Stanley Professor of Business Administration and executive director of the Institute for Communication Technology Management. In 2011, his contributions to the university were honored with the USC Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to a very select number of retired faculty members at the annual Academic Honors Convocation.

“We have lost a dear member of our Trojan family, a gifted teacher, a dedicated public servant and an admired scholar,” said school dean James G. Ellis. “Jack was a warm and wonderful man who will be deeply missed.”

Along with his term as president of ORSA, Dr. Borsting served as president of the Military Operations Research Society (MORS) and was a recipient of its Vance Warner Award for distinguished service to the profession. Among his many other honors, he was honorary treasurer of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and of MORS, and a Trustee of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). In 1982, Dr. Borsting received the Distinguished Service Award from Oregon State University, and he was twice awarded the U.S. Department of Defense’s Medal for Distinguished Public Service. In 2005, he was designated an Alumni Fellow by the University of Oregon, and he was a dean emeritus at both NPS and USC.

In the business sector, Dr. Borsting served on the corporate boards of Northrop Grumman Corporation, Security First Trust, PLATO Learning, Inc., Storer Communications, McDonnell Douglas Finance Corporation, Coast Savings Bank, Sun Bank of Miami, Ivax Diagnostics and Whitman Education Group and several other companies. He also served as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Orthopedic Hospital Foundation, trustee of the Rose Hills Foundation, lead governor of the American Stock Exchange and as a member of the Army Science Board.

Dr. Borsting is survived by his wife of 63 years Peggy Anne Borsting, his daughter Lynn C. Hammond and his son Eric J. Borsting, along with his three grandchildren, Jessica M. Edwards, Matthew A. Borsting and Catherine A. Borsting.

Sources: NPS, USC, INFORMS,
Monterey Herald