Ronald A. Howard

TIMS President, 1967-681

Ron Howard was the 14th President of TIMS. He became Professor in the Department of Engineering-Economic Systems (now the Department of Management Science and Engineering) in the School of Engineering of Stanford University since 1965. Professor Howard directs teaching and research in the Decision Analysis Program of the Department, and is the Director of the Decisions and Ethics Center, which examines the efficacy and ethics of social arrangements. He defined the profession of decision analysis in 1964 and has since supervised several doctoral theses in decision analysis every year. His students have received more than 80 doctorates through 2009. His experience includes dozens of decision analysis projects that range over virtually all fields of application, from investment planning to research strategy, and from hurricane seeding to nuclear waste isolation. Over the years he has been a consultant to companies in several industries and to law firms. Beginning in 1966, he was a creator of and principal consultant to the Decision Analysis Group of SRI International, the source of many successor companies offering services based on decision analysis philosophy and methods. In 1980, he was a founding Director and Chairman of Strategic Decisions Group, and has been associated with the firm ever since. He is President of the Decision Education Foundation, which he and colleagues founded to teach decision skills to young people. Professor Howard is also Professor by Courtesy in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford. Before coming to Stanford, he was Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, Associate Professor of Industrial Management, and Associate Director of the Operations Research Center at MIT.

He is the author of four books, dozens of technical papers, and provided editorial service to seven technical journals. His latest book, “Ethics for the Real World”, written with Clint Korver, was published in 2008. He was founding Editor of the Journal of the Society for Scientific Exploration. He has lectured in decision analysis at universities in several foreign countries, including the former Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. His national society affiliations have included the Operations Research Society of America; the Operational Research Society (U.K.); the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (Fellow); INFORMS (Fellow); and The Institute of Management Science, which he served as president. Continuing research interests are improving the quality of thought and of decisions, life-and-death decision-making, ethics, and the creation of a coercion-free society.

The year as President of TIMS was especially gratifying. The profession was in a period of rapid advance and recognition. The annual meeting in Mexico City was a highlight of presidential service. Relationships created in this period have lasted a lifetime.

In 1986 he received the Operations Research Society of America's Frank P. Ramsey Medal "for Distinguished Contributions in Decision Analysis." In 1998, he received the first INFORMS award for the Teaching of Operations Research/Management Science Practice. In 1999 he presented the Omega Rho Distinguished Plenary Lecture at the INFORMS Cincinnati National Meeting, and was made a Member of Omega Rho. In the same year he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and received the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence. He became a Fellow of INFORMS in 2002.

He has had a lifelong interest in on and off-road motorcycling and in sailing. He enjoys world travel, and using his motor home both to tour the continent and to spend quiet times in remote places.

Sc.D (Electrical Engineering), 1958, MIT.

Ronald A. Howard's Awards

[1] In 1967, TIMS switched its fiscal year so that it started in July. As a result, Prof. Howard served as TIMS President for 18 months