Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cornell has Posted the Videos of Professor Isard's Memorial and Symposium

On April 29, 2011, Cornell University was the site for the Memorial Service and Symposium in honor of Professor Walter Isard, who passed away last year at age 91. Professor Isard was the founder of regional science and peace science and a great friend and mentor to many.

I was to speak at the Symposium but because of bad weather in the US my flights on USAIR were cancelled.

Nevertheless, my presentation was delivered by my former student and colleague from SUNY Oswego, Professor June Dong. The above photos were kindly provided by Professor Dong.

Cornell, through the efforts of Professor Kieran Donaghy, who helped to organize the special day, has now posted the videos of both the morning memorial service and the afternoon symposium.

I spent the better part of last Saturday viewing the videos and was touched by the reflections of colleagues from around the world, by the presentations of several of his grown children (he and his wife had had 6 and then adopted 2 more). When on holidays with his children, who would cart along a trailer with a piano so that he could provide music

The music provided at the end of the memorial by Professors Donaghy, T. John Kim of the University of Illinois Urbana, and Jean Paelinck, who is now a Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Mason University, without any rehearsals, I might add, was touching.

I learned a lot from the speakers at the afternoon symposium and thank Professor June Dong for delivering my presentation! Luckily, she lives only about an hour away from Cornell and drove there.

Some of the many highlights:

Professor Geoff Hewings of the University of Illinois Urbana noted three things that he had learned from Walter Isard:

(1). Make your dreams a reality -- Just Do It (even if your institutions create roadblocks).

(2). Do high quality research -- Stand Out.

(3). Take care of the next generation.

Professor David E. Boyce, who is both an INFORMS Fellow and a Regional Science Association International (RSAI) Fellow, read a letter from Professor Martin Beckmann, in the morning. In Boyce's afternoon remarks on travels with Isard he noted how much Isard, when going to conferences, also liked to make time for visiting zoos (this made me smile) and when asked as to why, he said that the Nobel prize winner, Leontieff, also liked zoos. Karen Polenske of MIT, who also spoke, was a former student of Leontieff's at Harvard and reflected on how Isard, while at MIT, used to rollerblade to teach his classes (not a myth but the truth). I even learned of a book of Isard's from Professor Adam Rose of USC on ecological economic analysis, which I promptly ordered through Amazon.

Professor Isard, through his indomitable spirit, intellect, and organizational skills, built a community, which spans the globe, and he left so many friends. When I gave a seminar at Cornell, and was hosted by Professor Donaghy, on April 1, 2009, he showed up to my talk.

Also, I learned my lesson -- never take a USAIR flight that requires a connection in Philly. At least USAIR reimbursed me for the cancelled flights.