Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Being Valued and Appreciated by Your Academic Institution

I have had quite a few conversations at the end of this semester with faculty of different ranks.

During the conversations, one of the topics that consistently emerged is that the faculty member felt that their contributions were not sufficiently recognized or valued, despite their efforts and hard work.

I tried to pick my colleagues up and cheer them on but now that I am thousands of miles away in beautiful Sweden, where I consistently get my muse, I feel that the topic is of sufficient importance to write about on this blog.

Especially at the end of the academic year, there are always many celebratory events such as banquets and award ceremonies in which recognitions such as teaching awards, research awards, and even service awards are noted. Some of the accolades are "local" in that they are given by the school in question, such as, in my case,  the Isenberg  School of Management, for example. Other recognitions are at the university level, which are done elegantly at our annual UMass Amherst Honors Banquet, where also national and international awards are noted that recipients have received during the year.

Sometimes I wonder whether with all the emphasis on rankings in Business Schools, are we forgetting the human element?

As we chase the rankings, are we steering research in directions that faculty may not be fully passionate about? If a journal is not on the identified list for your program to publish in, does that mean that you will turn down opportunities or feel that a publication in only an A level journal (since it is not Premier) does not matter? A colleague of mine stated that this is how he felt.

I know from citations to my own work, that my books are highly cited as are articles that are not in premier journals although I have published there. And now -  a colleague at ASU, with whom I am working on organizing a very cool symposium, let me know that  on Google Scholar I hit an i10-index of 50. This means for those of you who are wondering, that 50 of my publications have been cited 50 or more times, which is pretty good, I am told. That in itself, is gratifying, even if this will not affect any ranking but, then again, it may when it comes to a school's reputation. Better to have faculty whose work is cited, I would think.

Faculty (as employees) want to feel valued and appreciated and there are concrete ways in which this can be accomplished.

I wonder why it may be hard for some administrators to give public acknowledgments, private thank you's, and even kind words in passing as to the work that faculty do. Of course, this holds not only for research but also for teaching and service. An institution is built on all who are part of it and faculty are the foundations.

Under a previous administration, something known as an Exceptional Merit Award was initiated at UMass Amherst, whereby every 3 years a faculty member could apply (or, better yet, be nominated) for this award, which entails an increase (which can vary) in one's base pay. In order to get this award, one needs substantive national and/or international accolades.

When rules of the game change, I can always go back and recall that, under two different Provosts, I received such an Exceptional Merit Award. Such a university recognition does give you some lift under your wings and is a concrete recognition.

Of course, I tell my colleagues that even if you don't feel appreciated by your immediate school or college, excellent work does get recognized (sooner or later) and one should just continue doing great work that one is passionate about. 

I, specifically, laud professional societies such as INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) for support of research of their members and their other professional activities through communities and various awards.

Do send a colleague a congratulatory note, and copy it to administrators, if a colleague has published an article that she or she is very proud of. Do the same if a grant is received or even a student comments to you on how much he or she enjoyed a professor's class. In being driven to Boston Logan last Wednesday using UMass Amherst's Meet and Greet service, I had a great driver who is a Math major (so, of course, the conversation was fabulous). He spoke about a colleague of mine in Finance that was his favorite professor even though he is considered to be very tough. I sent an email to my colleague telling him about this.

Do acknowledge work well done and an interesting paper or achievement by a colleague at a meeting of the department or even school and, most definitely, do it also individually!

Or, as I sometimes do, even write a blogpost with congratulatory messages for notable recognitions. I do this for faculty and students. This helps to get the news out and will build a positive community.

Administrators have their own challenges and sometimes they may just forget or be focused too much on their agendas and initiatives to spread the good word about faculty. It does not hurt to remind them!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Blogging from Sweden

It's great to be back in Sweden. Since 2012 I have been a Visiting Professor at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg and I spend about 44 days a year in the beautiful city of Gothenburg.

I arrived in Gothenburg on Thursday to a day of glorious sunshine which held up even yesterday.

I am living in another part of the city than I have been in the past so it is a bit too far to walk to work since I would have to walk over a long bridge. So, instead, I have a monthly pass to ride the trolleys, which I love.

The trolleys (sometimes called trams here) run frequently, are reliable, and are very comfortable - what more can you ask for!

I will not be getting into a car for a month. A taxi brought me from the airport and the next time I will be in a car will be when I head back to the airport.

I've already had a chance to explore some of my favorite spots in this very green city including the Slottskogan Park, where I was asked for directions in Swedish. I was able to give directions in English. It's also been delightful to find new foodstores and to carry the food home. Swedish cities and towns are so walkable and designed with amenities in mind. About 2 blocks from my apartment complex is a Saluhall where I can buy fresh fish, baked goods, and lots of fruits and vegetables.

I am looking forward to seeing my Swedish colleagues at work on Monday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Photos from POMS Conference in DC

In a previous post, I provided links to our presentations at the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) Conference, which took place recently in Washington DC.

The photos below are of my present doctoral students, Sara Saberi and Shivani Shukla, along with my most recent PhD student at the Isenberg School, Dong "Michelle" Li, who successfully defended her PhD dissertation on May 4,  plus my former PhD student, Professor Min Yu of the Pamplin School of Business at the University of Portland in Oregon.

Nice to see members of the Supernetwork Team supporting one another professionally and personally.

Great job, present and future female academics, and thanks for forwarding the photos!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

From Ecolabelling in Fashion to Supply Chains and Freight Quality Competition

The POMS (Production and Operations Management Society) Conference is now taking place in Washington DC.

Although I could not go since this (as happened last year as well) is graduation season at UMass Amherst,  3 of my present doctoral students are there (Shivani Shukla, Sara Saberi,  and Dong Li, who defended her PhD dissertation just lat week) presenting our joint work and one former doctoral student, Professor Min Yu of the Pamplin School of Business at the University of Oregon, is as well.

Two of  our papers are jount with my collabortaor in Sweden, Professor Jonas Floden.

Below I have posted links to our presentations. All of the presentations are based on recently published papers of ours with links also provided below.

The full presentation can be downloaded here. The presentation is based on the paper, Fashion Supply Chain Network Competition with Ecolabelling,.Anna Nagurney, Min Yu, and Jonas Floden, Sustainable Fashion Supply Chain Management: From Sourcing to Retailing, T.-M. Choi and T.C.E. Cheng, Editors, Springer (2015) pp 61-84.

The full presentation is available here. The presentation is based on the paper:  A Supply Chain Network Game Theory Model with Product Differentiation, Outsourcing of Production and Distribution, and Quality and Price Competition,, Anna Nagurney and Dong Li, Annals of Operations Research 228(1), (2015) pp 479-503.

 The full presentation can be downloaded here., And this presentation is based on our paper:  Supply Chain Network Competition in Price and Quality with Multiple Manufacturers and Freight Service Providers, Anna Nagurney, Sara Saberi, Shivani Shukla, and Jonas Floden, Transportation Research E 77: (2015) pp 248-267.

Needless to say, I love doing research on all aspects of supply chains and am very lucky to have such great collaborators as those above.

The Best Gifts for an Academic Mom on Mother's Day

I'd like to wish all mothers out there a very Happy Mother's Day and to acknowledge all those who are no longer with us.

It's been a truly fabulous week and I feel very lucky.

As the Director of the Virtual Center for Supernetworks, I have the privilege and honor of working with a great team of faculty, industrial partners, and students. This past Friday, I sent out the following message to my team.  All of those recognized in the message below were or are my PhD students in Management Science at the Isenberg School with the exception of my great collaborator Professor Daniele in Italy and the "other Professor Nagurney," who is my husband.

Also, the photo below is of Professor Patrick Qiang with his lovely family taken shortly after his receipt of Promotion & Tenure.
Dear Supernetwork Center Associates:

I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful news and my CONGRATULATIONS! The next Supernetwork newsletter will be packed with Kudos.

1. I just heard from Dr. Patrick Qiang that he received a letter from the President of the Penn State University system, stating that he has been granted a promotion to Associate Professor with tenure! Congratulations to Dr. Qiang! (Plus, at yesterday's commencement on his campus, he was honored with the Campus Teaching Award!)

2. Dong "Michelle" Li successfully defended her doctoral dissertation on May 4, and, after many campus interviews and frequent flier miles, accepted a great offer from the AACSB accredited School of Business at Arkansas State University. She follows in the footsteps of Professor Tina Wakolbinger (since Memphis is only an hour away) and Professor Ke Ke, whose first academic position was at the University of Arkansas in Monticello. Congrats to Dr. Li! (Michelle is my 18th PhD student to receive the PhD.)

3. Professor Jose M. Cruz has received the UCONN School of Business  Faculty Service/Outreach Excellence Award.  This award is presented annually to a faculty member for outstanding achievement in service/outreach. Jose has received 2 Ackerman Scholar awards and two teaching awards in previous years, so UCONN should just start naming their awards after him.

4. Professor Tina Wakolbinger of the Vienna University of Economics and Business has been appointed Senior Editor for the premier journal, Production and Operations Management, in the Disaster Management Department.

5. Sara Saberi received the Isenberg School's Outstanding Doctoral Student Researcher Award - she follows in the footsteps of Professor Min Yu of the University of Portland  and Dong Li. Also, Sara is today at the POMS doctoral colloquium in Washington DC.

6. Professor Patrizia Daniele has organized sessions for the EURO Glasgow conference and I will be seeing her there as well as Professors Wakolbinger and Toyasaki, who will also be coming to the Dynamics of Disasters Conference that I am co-organizing in Greece. Professor Wakolbinger organized a stream and a session at Glasgow and Professor Amir Masoumi of Manhattan College will be speaking in the session.

7. Dr. Padma Ramanujam of SAS came back to campus to speak at an invited panel at an ISSR conference at which Shivani Shukla also had a poster on our latest cybersecurity research (with Professor Patrizia Daniele and the other Professor Nagurney, who will be on sabbatical this coming academic year).

Happy Mother's Day to everyone and keep the great news coming! I am a very proud Academic Mom.

The great news items above represent the best gifts that I could get as an Academic Mom!

Anna Nagurney, Ph.D.
John F. Smith Memorial Professor
Director, Virtual Center for Supernetworks
Department of Operations and Information Management
Isenberg School of Management
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Congratulations to the Isenberg School Class of 2015!

This morning, the Isenberg School graduation for our undergraduates, class of 2015 took place, with graduating seniors from our 7 departments being honored.

The event took place at the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst and it was a joyful occasion, which flowed smoothly, and those of us in Operations care about such things. Associate Dean Linda Shea was a great emcee and had an inspiring speech. The student speaker was Lauren Casaceli, who has been a great ambassador for the Isenberg School, and has had a leadership role in organizing the very successful annual Women of Isenberg Business Conference. Dean Mark A. Fuller had closing remarks, took another selfie, and showed a video tribute to Gene Isenberg and his family.

The faculty always enjoy shaking hands with the graduates from their departments and it was great to see so many Operations and Information Management graduates. I was hoping to see more parents afterwards but with about 1,000 graduates across all departments, that was rather challenging.

The photos below I took before, during, and after the ceremony today. The faculty were resplendent in their academic regalia.

Congratulations to the Class of 2015!

The family members and friends of the graduates as well as other faculty after the ceremony in photos below.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Disaster Relief - It's About Time

I have been busy co-organizing the 2nd International Conference on Dynamics of Disasters with my great colleagues, Professor Panos M. Pardalos of the University of Florida and Professor Ilias Kotsireas of Wilfrid Laurier University.

I've also been hard at work finishing up our paper for this conference, which takes place in Kalamata, Greece, at the end of June, and  grading the fascinating project papers of the students in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class.

Nice when your research is synergistic with your teaching!

The conference website now contains the program (to-date)  with confirmed speakers from many countries.

I have been completely engrossed in writing this paper, given the events in Nepal, post the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck in April.   One wants to help in any way possible and we have given a financial donation and, as as academics, we can certainly help through our research.

The title of the paper that I will be presenting at the conference is: "A Mean-Variance Disaster Relief Supply Chain Network Model for Risk Reduction with Stochastic Link Costs, Time Targets, and Demand Uncertainty."

This paper builds upon our earlier work in supply chain risk reduction (but in a corporate setting): Risk Reduction and Cost Synergy in Mergers and Acquisitions via Supply Chain Network Integration, Zugang Liu and Anna Nagurney, Journal of Financial Decision Making 7(2): (2011) pp 1-18, and our paper,  An Integrated Disaster Relief Supply Chain Network Model with Time Targets and Demand Uncertainty, Anna Nagurney, Amir H. Masoumi, and Min Yu, in Regional Science Matters: Studies Dedicated to Walter Isard, P. Nijkamp, A. Rose, and K. Kourtit, Editors, Springer International Publishing Switzerland (2015), pp 287-318.

Disaster relief is truly about time and models must incorporate the critical time dimension as ours do. For example, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has identified key benchmarks to response and recovery, which emphasize time and  they are: to meet the survivors’ initial demands within 72 hours, to restore basic community functionality within 60 days, and to return to as normal of a situation within 5 years. Timely and efficient delivery of relief supplies to the affected population not only decreases the fatality rate but may also prevent chaos.

There can be delays on any of the links in a disaster relief supply chain network and The New York Times on Monday, in an article  by Gardiner Harris, "Nepal's Bureaucracy Blamed as Quake Relief Supplies Pile Up," notes that:  Relief supplies for earthquake victims have been piling up at the airport and in warehouses here because of bureaucratic interference by Nepalese authorities who insist that standard customs inspections and other procedures be followed, even in an emergency, officials with Western governments and aid organizations said on Sunday. 

The article  continues with: The bottleneck was the fact that the bureaucratic procedures were just so heavy,” Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations resident coordinator, said in an interview. “So many layers of government and so many departments involved, so many different line ministries involved. We don’t need goods sitting in Kathmandu warehouses. We don’t need goods sitting at the airport. We need them up in the affected areas.

We do  the following in our paper:  We develop a mean-variance disaster relief supply chain network model with stochastic link costs and time targets for delivery of the relief supplies at the demand points, under demand uncertainty. The humanitarian organization seeks to minimize its expected total operational costs and the total risk in operations with an individual weight assigned to its valuation of the risk, as well as the minimization of expected costs of shortages and surpluses and tardiness penalties associated with the target time goals at the demand points.

The risk is captured through the variance of the total operational costs, which is relevant to the reporting of the proper use of funds to stakeholders, including donors. The time goal targets associated with the demand points enable prioritization as to the timely delivery of relief supplies. The framework handles both the pre-positioning of relief supplies, whether local or nonlocal, as well as the procurement (local or nonlocal), transport, and distribution of supplies post-disaster. The time element is captured through link time completion functions as the relief supplies progress along paths in the supply chain network. Each path consists of a series of directed links, from the origin node, which represents the humanitarian organization, to the destination nodes, which are the demand points for the relief supplies.

We propose an algorithm, which yields closed form expressions for the variables at each iteration, and demonstrate the efficacy of the framework through a series of illustrative numerical examples, in which trade-offs between local versus nonlocal procurement, post- and pre-disaster, are investigated. The numerical examples include a case study on hurricanes hitting Mexico.

UMass Amherst has a nice release on this conference  and the University of Florida had this writeup posted a while back. 

I look forward to presenting our paper at the International Conference on Dynamics of Disasters. The topic is certainly so relevant and even NSF just released a big press release on 6 projects that it has funded, jointly with Japan, on Big Data and disaster response.