Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Photos from Inspiring 2014 UMass Amherst HONORS Dinner

Yesterday was a perfect day, except, possibly, for the cool weather!

I had the pleasure of listening to the final set of presentations in both my undergraduate and graduate class and the professionalism of the student presentations and the excellent content was so very gratifying. We lingered after both my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class with hugs and took photos and after my Network, Game Theory, and Variational Inequalities class. Hard to believe that the semester is over with the exception of grading and graduations!

Yesterday was also Founder's Day at UMass Amherst and we celebrated 151 years throughout the day, culminating in the 2014 UMass HONORS Dinner at the Campus Center that I attended with my husband. 
It was the perfect ending to a great academic year - the food was extra delicious and the ambience elegant and warm. But, best of all, was the celebration of extraordinary achievements of our faculty in terms of research, teaching, and outreach. 
Chancellor Subbaswamy was a wonderful emcee and I LOVED his  speech in which he shared stories of UMass Amherst Deans, including our Isenberg School of Management Dean, Dr. Mark Fuller, and their reflections on their first research experiences.  Our Chancellor also noted how he, in 1972, as a young graduate student from India at Indiana University, and was inspired by Physics Professor Larry Shuman, who was working on Catastrophe Theory. And, when asked why is a physicist working on catastrophe theory, which was new and novel then (and I still find the subject fascinating), he answered because it was fun! Yes, knowledge-driven research is the kind of research that elevates, energizes, and leads to true innovation!

I so enjoyed seeing many colleagues from the College of Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Humanities and Fine Arts at the dinner and reception that preceded it.

I am so proud to be associated with such great minds and such special people and institution.

The Chancellor was assisted with the emceeing by Provost James Staros and our Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Mike Malone. 
 I also very much enjoyed hearing excerpts from  letters written in support of this year's Conti Faculty Fellowship recipients - the geoscientist, Dr. Robert DeConto, the computer scientist, Dr. Andrew McCallum, whose work has been cited over 35,000 times (and who spoke in our INFORMS Speaker Series at the Isenberg School), and the historian, Dr. Marla Miller.

Congrats and thanks to all the faculty who make UMass Amherst such a special place to conduct research at and to teach at.

I received a Conti Fellowship as an Associate Professor and spent that year as a Visiting Scholar in Management Science at the Sloan School at MIT. And, amazingly, last evening I was seated next to Ms. Susan Coltrane Lowance, who is married to Professor Lowance of the English Department. She  was in the second class of MBA recipients at Yale, went on to become the Director of the Management Program for women executives at Smith College and then became the first female Director of the Sloan Fellow Program at MIT.  It was so great to reminisce about my colleagues in operations research and management science there and about MIT and even Harvard, since Professor Lowance knows the President of Harvard, Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust, who was the Dean of the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard when I was a Science Fellow there.  And, would you believe, Ms. Lowance told me that she attended the previous Harvard President's inauguration (Dr. Larry Summers') and even met a couple standing by the wayside with Summers name tags - yes, they were his very proud parents!

Needless to say, what a perfect evening with such interesting people in attendance and such great stories! There is always serendipity in showing up as I tell my students.