January 28, 2010

Professor Muckstadt Awarded Annual Weiss Fellowship

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Prof. John Muckstadt, operations research, like most teachers, has always wondered about the effect he has on his students’ lives after they graduate. Last weekend, he got his answer when a sea of nominations by former students resulted in the Cornell Board of Trustees naming him this year’s Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow.

Receiving the award was gratifying because it came as “the result of former students getting together and explaining why they benefited from my instruction,” Muck­stadt said.

Muckstadt has been teaching at Cornell since 1974. This semester, he teaches Principles of Supply Chain Manage­ment, an upper-level operations research class that “simulates the way a supply chain would operate under basic conditions.”The award — presented to Muckstadt for excellence in undergraduate teaching — is named for the late Stephen H. Weiss ’57, emeritus chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees. Muckstadt will be honored by the Cornell Board of Trustees at a faculty recognition ceremony in May and will be awarded with $5,000 a year for five years. Stu­dents appreciate learning about “the kinds of problems they’re going to have to face when they leave,” as Muckstadt put it.

“He’s really good at applying the class to real life,” said Nicole Monteleone ’10, a student in his ORIE 5126 Principles of Supply Chain Management course as well as a fellow student researcher. “He definitely deserves this award, he puts a lot into his students and genuinely try to help them do better in their career[s].”

Muckstadt’s classes focus on the “relationship between theory and practice,” translating between abstract economic ideas and practical advice. Like many other members of the operations research faculty, he has extensive experience consulting for companies, which adds to the real-life application his students appreciate.

In his honorary address, President Skorton praised Muckstadt’s use of such “experiential learning,” as well as his “willingness to go ‘above and beyond’ to help students.”

Muckstadt can point to several accomplished students as proof of his influence as a teacher. Steven Follett ‘78 is now the CEO of Follett Ice, which made the ice machine that now sits in Trillium. Many other former students occupy similarly high-profile positions in the business world.

He chose to be a professor rather than pursue a lucrative corporate career not only because he wanted to improve students’ lives, but also because he feels most comfortable in an academic environment.

“You like to be around people who are smart,” Muckstadt said.

Original Author: Elisabeth Rosen