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Thomas Returns to ISyE as Interim Chair

Posted June 29, 2010 | Atlanta, GA

Dr. Michael “Mike” Thomas, former school chair and professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) and former provost of Georgia Tech, has been appointed interim school chair for ISyE beginning July 1, 2010. Thomas, who served as ISyE’s third school chair from 1978 to 1989, will fill the position being vacated by Chelsea C. “Chip” White III until a permanent school chair is in place.

 “I am grateful that Mike Thomas has agreed to take on the responsibility of leading the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering as interim school chair in order to assure a smooth transition through the upcoming search for a new school chair,” said Don Giddens, Dean of the College of Engineering. “I know that his faculty colleagues will work closely with him to ensure that we maintain and build on the momentum ISyE has established. We are incredibly fortunate to have a person of this caliber step in to this position.”

Thomas has extensive knowledge of ISyE teaching and research initiatives and has a good rapport with the faculty, staff, and students in ISyE and across campus. “When Mike was ISyE school chair, he brought in and retained key faculty members and placed an emphasis on developing a strong research program that helped propel the Stewart School to the role of national prominence it maintains today,” said White. “We are delighted to have him back with us.”

Thomas also strengthened connections with ISyE alumni. His efforts brought ISyE its first endowed chair, the A. Russell Chandler III Chair, which he later used to attract George Nemhauser, one of the premier operations research faculty in the Unites States, to Georgia Tech. Thomas also recruited ISyE’s second endowed chair, the Coca-Cola Chair, held then and now by Ellis Johnson. And it was during his tenure that the ISyE Alumni Advisory Board was formed to help guide the Stewart School.

 In 1989, Thomas joined the President’s office at Georgia Tech as acting executive vice president, responsible for overseeing Tech's academic restructuring, which resulted in the formation of three new colleges and numerous new degree programs. In addition, he helped to oversee the implementation of many of these degree programs; created new promotion, tenure and reappointment standards; and managed the Institute's budgeting process. In 1996 his title was changed to Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, overseeing all academic and most administrative areas. Thomas retired in 2002, but came out of retirement soon thereafter to serve as interim chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering while a search was underway for a new chair.

Thomas received a BSChE and MSChE from the University of Texas-Austin. In 1965, he received his Ph.D. in operations research from Johns Hopkins University. He was also president of the Operations Research Society (now INFORMS) and elected as a fellow of INFORMS and AIIE.

 Mike and his wife Pat have five children: Michelle Barber, Kevin Gue (MS OR 1992, DR IE 1995), Teresa Genoway, Kathee Pappa and Rebecca MacLean. The Thomas’ also have twenty-two grandchildren, one of whom graduated from Tech with a degree in Mechanical Engineering this past May, and one who will be entering in the fall, also pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

 Professor Vigor Yang, chair of the Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, is chairing a search committee that has been charged with actively soliciting candidates; evaluating qualifications; and through a screening and interview process, recommending finalists for the position. According to Dean Giddens, this will be an international search to select the best possible person for this important position.

For More Information Contact

Barbara Christopher
Industrial and Systems Engineering
404.385.3102