Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm Retired - This Blog Is Not

I'm not big on personal posts in this blog (other than the occasional rant ... which probably says something about my personality).  Today I'll make an exception.  I've retired from Michigan State University after 33 years on the faculty, in the Department of Management (and 39 years on campus -- I did my graduate work here, in mathematics and statistics).

Yesterday was my first official day of retirement. (I say "official" because college faculty begin the retirement process the day after we get tenure and accelerate it the day after we make full professor.) When I went online, I discovered that my OR "peeps" had created a blog to commemorate my newfound freedom. I've commented on every post there, but I want to use this space to thank collectively all the folks who took the time (and, in some cases, considerable research effort) to write entries.  Special thanks to Mary Leszczynski for organizing it, and apologies to anyone who is still working out the kinks after having their arm twisted by Bjarni.  (The blog you're reading came to be because Bjarni twisted my arm at an INFORMS meeting until I caved -- and that was after I'd had roughly 15 years of martial arts practice!) Poring over the blog was a real treat for me.

I'm a bit of an outlier in the OR community (probably in many ways, but I'll cop to this one). Coming out of my doctoral program, which was in "pure" math and not OR, I was hired into a management science position in our business school. Counting me, we had three MS faculty, and one of those was a statistician. In the years that followed, as I was getting my footing in MS/OR (largely self-taught), the statistician retired, the other MS professor migrated to supply chain management, we killed off our MS and OR degree programs, and ultimately we killed off most of our quant methods classes. So I became an increasingly vestigial organ, and my contact with OR was through journals, INFORMS meetings, and to a large degree through sci.op-research (now tottering on its last legs) and the various web-based forums that followed it. The name of this blog stems from the fact that, for about a decade or so, my department has consisted of organizational behavior (OB) and strategy faculty, and me. Toward the end I was teaching introductory org behavior classes, which was the universe's version of a flashing neon sign pointing toward the exit.

I've met several of the people who posted to my retirement blog face-to-face on multiple occasions, always at an INFORMS meeting (or a video chat). I've met a few once (at INFORMS), and there are a few that I've yet to have the pleasure of meeting. The common denominator is that I've "met" them all online, either in a Q&A forum such as OR-Exchange, from my commenting on their blogs, on Twitter, or some combination of the above.  (I've made numerous circle connections on Google+, but to date I haven't had the time to do much with it. Perhaps that will change now.)  Believe it or not, I also have one coauthor on a journal article whom I've never met. It started with my answering his question on sci.op-research, with some email follow-ups, and spun into a publication.

So thanks to all of you who've interacted with me online, and who I hope will continue to interact with me online. Retirement from my day job does not imply retirement from OR. I'll continue the occasional mathematical snark hunt, at my own pace. Without a university to pick up the tab, I suppose I'll have to get a newspaper route to pay for at least one INFORMS conference per year. One way or another, I'll be around. To quote those great philosophers The Monkees, "... [I] don't have time to get restless, there's always something new ... Any time, or anywhere, just look over your [virtual] shoulder, guess who'll be standing there ..." (lyrics, sample)

I'll get back to serious business (?) with the next post.

10 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your retirement! Enjoy it! Maybe with your free(!) time, we will see more OR posts!

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  2. Congrats on your "retirement," Paul -- you will continue to be a beacon of sense, especially with your terrific "sense of humor" and wisdom, in our profession.

    Thanks for being the person that you are and for all of your honest writings. You often said what we were thinking.

    Wishing you many joyous intellectual and other engagements and pursuits in your retirement,

    Anna Nagurney

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  3. @Burcu: Or maybe now I'll *finally* get around to spending some quality time with the patrol model you so kindly sent me months ago. :-)

    @Anna: Thanks for the very generous words. I look forward to reading more about sustainable networks on your blog, and also about your growing academic "family". (Having produced precisely one PhD student in 33 years, I'm living a bit vicariously through RENeW.)

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  4. @Burcu: Or maybe now I'll *finally* get around to spending some quality time with the patrol model you so kindly sent me months ago. :-)

    @Anna: Thanks for the very generous words. I look forward to reading more about sustainable networks on your blog, and also about your growing academic "family". (Having produced precisely one PhD student in 33 years, I'm living a bit vicariously through RENeW.)

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  5. Paul, Congrats, I think...

    Re: "So I became an increasingly vestigial organ"

    At your formal retirement ceremony, MSU should have awarded you a gold plated appendix as a testament to your years of vestigiality.

    P.S. I have a feeling that few other students were as entertained as the ones who experienced your positive semi-definite approach to organizational behavior which is always indefinite at best.

    Regards,

    Steve

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  6. @Steve: Gold plating is way outside our budget these days. I did get a free meal and a certificate anointing me "Professor Emeritus". I looked up "Emeritus"; apparently it's Latin for "lacking value". ;-)

    Your PS had me ROTFL.

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  7. Paul, it has been wonderful to get to know you these past few years. I'm glad you'll be making time for us in between rounds of golf and your paper route.

    Laura

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  8. Thanks Laura. However, I feel obligated to straighten one thing out. I don't know who started the "golf" comments about me, but I agree with Mark Twain's characterization of golf as "a good walk spoiled". Excluding miniature golf, I played exactly once. Sprained a finger on the third tee. Played "best ball" and never, not once, had my shot be the best ball. Golf is something people take up when they realize they have too little aggravation in their lives. That does not describe me. :-)

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  9. Congrats Paul. I hope you keep up with the great content from you blog posts. Even if I only know you through the blogs I have a lot of fun reading them. If you are ever in Dallas give a try to look me up. You can usually find me associated with INFORMS or the Dallas R Users Group.

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  10. Thanks Larry. I may take you up on that offer. I've been to Austin, Houston and San Antonio, but so far not Dallas ... which is a bit ironic, since I've been a Cowboys fan since I was a kid. Let me know if you're planning to attend the INFORMS meeting in Phoenix; maybe we can do a blogger meet-up there.

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