Tuesday, September 29, 2009

President of Harvard Speaks like an Operations Researcher and the Radcliffe Institute is Celebrating its 10th Anniversary

Yesterday, I listened to the President of Harvard University speak on the state of the university. The speech that President Drew Gilpin Faust made was also videotaped on September 24, 2009 and you can view it and listen to her speech on the following link:

Alternatively, you can read about her speech in the Harvard Magazine here:

I was contacted by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard about her speech. I was a Science Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute in 2005-2006. I wrote about my incredible year in an article that appears on the Radcliffe website and was also printed in ORMS Today.

In listening to President's Faust speech, I could not help but note how she sounded not only as the historian that she is but also like an operations researcher. She spoke about the challenges of constraints, the allocation of resources, and the serious effects of the economic crisis on Harvard's endowment. She also mentioned risk and how Harvard's decentralized decision-making will have to be more collaborative. There are incompatibilities in Information Technology across some of the schools and colleges and that such hurdles need to be overcome. She spoke on the new General Education requirements at Harvard and how painful it has been to let go of staff and personnel. She emphasized that the crisis will not be over soon and that Harvard has to focus not only on having faculty and students of the highest caliber but that efficiency has to also be a theme in operations.

Having spent a year at Harvard recently, and now being officially a Harvard alum (all Radcliffe Institute Fellows become alums of Harvard) I was very impressed by President's Faust sincerity. Dr. Faust was the Dean of the Radcliffe Institute when I was a Fellow and above I share with you some photos of the reception held in our honor on May 24, 2006. You may recognize in the photos some Pulitzer prize winners, President Faust, and others.

Radcliffe soon is holding a symposium to mark its 10th anniversary. You may find the full listing of events and activities here. I won't be coming to the events in early October since I will be going to the INFORMS National Meeting in San Diego to present a paper, to give the 2009 Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences (WORMS) Award, and to also attend various professional society meetings and award ceremonies. Plus, I will be the subject of a podcast.

I wish the Radcliffe Institute a very happy 10th anniversary!