February 1996 Volume 23 No. 1
Alfred Blumstein became the second president of INFORMS on Jan. 1, succeeding
John D.C. Little who presided over the Institute during its first year in
existence following the merger of TIMS and ORSA. Blumstein was elected to
the top post by the membership in 1994 and served the past year as president-elect.
President's Gavel Passes to Blumstein
Blumstein, professor of Urban Systems and Operations Research and former
dean of the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management at
Carnegie Mellon University, takes office at a critical time for the Institute,
a period marked by pressing problems and unprecedented opportunities.
"Too many corporations are terminating their OR/MS groups, and too
many academic OR/MS departments are shrinking or are having difficulty placing
their graduates," Blumstein says. "We must question whether our
current product mix is as attractive as it was in the era before the massive
availability of computers and software packages replaced some of the work
that used to be done by OR/MS groups.
"This is particularly ironic because my experience suggests that OR/MS
people are among the most capable problem solvers I know, and society's
organizations desperately need those skills. This issue requires some focused
leadership by INFORMS to address some of these problems."
As outlined in his presidential candidate statement, Blumstein's agenda
"I have devoted much of my career to being a 'missionary,' bringing
OR/MS perspectives to a variety of important problem areas," Blumstein
continues. "I believe we are at a point in our history when that task
must be pursued collectively with more aggressiveness and more effectiveness."
- "working with universities -- especially OR/MS departments -- to
revise their curricula to strengthen generic and flexible problem-solving
- "being more aggressive and focused in identifying for current and
potential clients the special competencies OR/MS people can bring";
- "strengthening the efforts by CPMS and others to identify and report
on success stories, especially in new application areas";
- "encouraging (INFORMS) journals to report more on such successes";
- "providing recognition for those who achieve success";
- "encouraging the most competent and most committed young people
to see the excitement and opportunity in OR/MS that we found."
Blumstein's INFORMS roots go back more than 40 years. He joined ORSA in
1952, TIMS in 1956. Over the years he has held numerous posts in both organizations,
including the presidency (ORSA, 1977-78; TIMS, 1987-88). Blumstein was an
outspoken leader in the merger movement which led to the creation of INFORMS
two years ago.
Blumstein was awarded ORSA's Kimball Medal in 1985 "for service to
the profession and the society." He also received the first ORSA President's
Award in 1993 "for service to society."
After earning a bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics at Cornell University
in 1951, Blumstein started work at Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory. During
his tenure there (1951-1961), he earned his Ph.D. in operations research
from Cornell. In 1961 he went to work at the Institute for Defense Analyses.
He joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in 1969.
Blumstein served as dean of CMU's H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy
and Management from 1986 through 1993. He is currently the School's J. Erick
Jonsson Professor (since 1978) and University Professor (since 1995) of
Urban Systems and Operations Research.
Blumstein's research over the past 20 years has covered many aspects of
criminal justice phenomena and policy, including crime measurement, criminal
careers, sentencing, deterrence and incapacitation, prison populations,
system flow modeling and demographic trends. Prior to that, he performed
research on transportation, air traffic control, military operations and
fleet air defense. He has published more than 100 papers.
From 1991-92, Blumstein served as president of the American Society of Criminology
and received its Sutherland Award (1987) for "contributions to research."
Blumstein has also served as director of the Task Force on Science and Technology
for the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of
Justice (1966-67); as a member of the NAS Committee on Research on Law Enforcement
and Administration of Justice (1975-86) and as its chairman (1979-84); and
has chaired the committee's panels on Research on Deterrent and Incapacitative
Effects, on Sentencing Research, and on Research on Criminal Careers. Blumstein
is currently a member of the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences
and Education of the National Research Council.
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