Saturday, April 9, 2011

So Proud of Our Isenberg School of Management Students!

The students at Isenberg continue to impress me by their manners (they will open the door to our nice building and hold it open for me until I pass through); they greet faculty warmly, and their work ethic is amazing (just stop by our stunning atrium any time of day or evening or even on a weekend to see their concentration whether on individual tasks or working collectively on group projects). Our students are creative, take heavy courseloads with very challenging courses, and still manage to engage in worthwhile extracurricular activities with many of them also holding part-time jobs.

Since I teach in our Operations Management undergraduate major program and the Management Science PhD program, I continue to be so proud of our students' accomplishments while at Isenberg and after they graduate. Our students have assumed executive positions in leading companies, have gone on to receive MBAs from Harvard and PhDs from MIT as well as UMass Amherst and other top universities, and have accomplished so much. Plus, our students are interesting and such a pleasure to teach and to interact with both inside and outside of the classroom.

The Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst is a gem where multidisciplinarity in terms of research and teaching is the norm. The school regularly makes Princeton Review's Best Place for Women top 5 rankings so female students feel comfortable here. There is also value placed on diversity and inclusion and I hope that a positive and supportive atmosphere continues.

One of the highlights, for me, of the academic year, is the reaching of milestones, and I am very much looking forward to the graduation ceremonies in May!

Speaking of milestones, yesterday one of our PhD students in Management Science, who matriculated when I was the Area Coordinator, defended her doctoral dissertation (successfully) so now Ms. Ahn Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam, and was a "boat person," became a US citizen, will be Dr. Ahn Nguyen! Her doctoral dissertation on continuous improvement in Vietnam, with much fieldwork in Vietnam, highlighted the challenges faced by that emerging economy (and also the opportunities). Plus, she has secured a faculty position in Operations Management in the San Francisco Bay area.

The receipt of a PhD takes time, incredible concentration, original, creative thinking, and hard work, coupled with assistance and mentorship of the faculty. A new PhD, who becomes a faculty member, can then, in turn, educate and mentor future generations so the investment in time and effort by all concerned (as well as the personal sacrifices) very often (but, of course, this may be discipline-dependent) pays off, hopefully, both in the relatively short run and in the long run.

The joy associated with research and knowledge discovery is its own incredible reward! Those who go on with their PhDs to work in government or coporations or even non-profits or foundations, come packed with a skill set and discipline plus knowledge that are very valuable in organizations. Some may even become entrepreneurs (all successful academics are entrepreneurs or we wouldn't survive in academia, much less, thrive, especially in these uncertain and dynamic times).

Also, yesterday, the announcement went out that one of my doctoral students in Management Science, Ms. Min Yu, will be defending her dissertation proposal at the end of this month. Her dissertation title: "Analysis, Design and Management of Supply Chain Networks for Time-Sensitive Products." Min already has several papers in various publication stages and is teaching a required undergrad course this semester, while serving as the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter's webmaster and was the President of this award-winning student chapter last year.

As a colleague of mine at the University of Florida, Distinguished University Professor Panos M. Pardalos, says, one needs to recognize where one started to measure success. Clearly, those who have been born with silver spoons in their mouths may have it easier but it is the trajectory of your life and accomplishments that matter (and remember the "initial conditions" of where you started from).

Our students, some of whom are the first in their families to receive a college education, are clearly successes by this measure!