Institute Professor Thomas L. Magnanti, who realized a childhood dream by becoming a college professor, has been appointed dean of the School of Engineering, effective January 1.
In making the appointment, Provost Robert A. Brown said, "Tom's experience in and commitment to both engineering science-oriented research and to cross-cutting educational programs put him in a perfect position to lead the School of Engineering to continue to innovate in both dimensions. He has the intellect and style to engage the faculty in the important discussions that will shape the School well into the next century."
"Tom has the intellect, vision and energy to help the School of Engineering remain preeminent in undergraduate and graduate engineering education and research well into the next century," President Charles M. Vest said. "He possesses a rare combination of achievement as a deep researcher in mathematical operations research and also in the broad issues of the engineering and management of large, complex enterprises. His role in developing and leading our Leaders for Manufacturing Program and, more recently, the Systems Designs and Management Program have placed him at the cutting edge of education and mutually beneficial interaction with industry. He will be an outstanding dean for our times."
"The MIT School of Engineering is a national and international treasure -- one of the all-time great institutions of higher education," said Professor Magnanti. "I am excited to have the opportunity to work with the School's remarkable faculty, students and staff to ensure the excellence and the magic that have always been the Institute's hallmark."
Professor Magnanti, 53, co-director of the Operations Research Center since 1986, joined MIT in 1971 as an assistant professor in the Sloan School of Management. He was also a founding co-director of the Leaders for Manufacturing Program and founding co-director of the System Design and Management Program.
A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Professor Magnanti has served as a member of the National Research Council's manufacturing studies board, and he also serves on the advisory boards of the International School of Management and Industrial Administration of Linkï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ping University in Sweden, the Harvard Business School, the Stanford University School of Engineering, and the University of Wisconsin Department of Industrial Engineering.
Professor Magnanti's research focuses on the theory and application of large-scale optimization, particularly in the areas of network flows and combinatorial optimization. He has conducted research on production planning and scheduling, transportation planning, facility location, logistics and communication systems design. He has served on numerous thesis committees and has co-authored two textbooks and co-edited two others.
Professor Magnanti has taught in a wide spectrum of programs at MIT, including freshmen seminars, advanced doctoral courses and executive education. He has devoted much of his career to educational programs at the interface between engineering and management. When he was selected as an Institute Professor in 1997, President Vest and Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow (then chair of the faculty) noted that his work has had a profound effect on education not only in the Sloan School and the School of Engineering, but has also helped redefine engineering and management education in the United States and elsewhere.
He has been a research fellow at the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics at the University of Louvain in Belgium and a visiting scholar at the Harvard Business School. He has also spent sabbatical leaves at GTE Labs, Digital Equipment Corp., and Sabre Technology Solutions.
Professor Magnanti has received many honors and awards, including the Gordon Y Billard Award for distinguished service to MIT, the Lanchester Prize and the Kimball Medal from the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA). He is a former president of ORSA and editor of its flagship journal Operations Research. He assumes the presidency of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences this January.
He was promoted to associate professor in 1975 and professor in 1979 before being named the George Eastman Professor of Management Science in 1985, a chair he held until he was appointed Institute Professor in 1997. Professor Magnanti has also been a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science since 1995.
A 1967 chemical engineering graduate of Syracuse University, he earned two master's degrees (statistics in 1969 and mathematics in 1971) and a PhD (operations research in 1972) at Stanford University. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Montreal, Linkï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ping University and the University of Louvain.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 16, 1998.