Colleagues, alumni help Jack Muckstadt celebrate his 80th birthday

If you missed the Zoom party, you can still watch it at

While we might be unable to have large get-togethers right now, the current state of affairs didn’t stop ORIE faculty, alumni, and colleagues from helping Jack Muckstadt, the Acheson/Laibe Professor Emeritus of Business Management and Leadership, celebrate his 80th birthday Sunday, September 28 via a group Zoom meeting.

After a welcome from Mark Lewis, Professor and Director of ORIE, Kathryn Caggiano, Professor of Practice and Director of ORIE’s Master of Engineering program, gave a brief history of her experiences with Jack’s career.

“Jack puts people first,” Caggiano said of what she’s learned from Muckstadt. “Jack meets people where they are—whether you’re a Ph.D. undergraduate...or a colleague who wants to chat about life and needs a clearer head than yours at times after some kind of life-transforming experience.”

ORIE Professor Emeritus Peter Jackson talked about experiential learning at Cornell with Jack. Beginning in the 1980s, Jackson and Muckstadt started working with several others over the next four decades, continually bringing in experts to add to their research.

“There’s no person who’s had an impact on me in a professional way more than Peter Jackson,” Muckstadt commented. “The collaboration we’ve had over these few decades was a phenomenal time for both of us.”

Harvard Business School professor Bob Kaplan Ph.D. ’68 touched on Jack’s influence on research, focusing on a paper Muckstadt wrote with Jackson and Caggiano in 2007 (“Optimizing Service Parts Inventory in a Multiechelon, Multi-Item Supply Chain with Time-Based Customer Service-Level Agreements”). The paper studied the issue of what parts should be stocked at each location to provide given levels of service; how should available stock be allocated throughout the resupply network; and, for repairable parts, how should repair facilities be sized, located, and operated. Kaplan said that paper, written more than a decade ago, relates to the current problem of not enough randomized testing for Covid-19 being done in the United States. While there are many testing machines in stock, the components of testing—such as chemical re-agents, glass vials, and swabs—are in short supply.

Muckstadt added that he and Jackson are working on another model with the distribution of vaccines in a timely and effective manner.

“(Jack) made learning interesting, relevant, and practical,” said Jeffrey Berg ’79, M.Eng. ’80. “He also provided his students with lifelong skills—critical thinking, data analysis, how to ask questions, how to decompose complex problems, how to work well with one another in teams, and how to communicate solutions both verbally and in writing.”

“As I get older I realize that it is, in fact, the personal experience that lingers,” said Elissa Sterry ’79 M.S. ’80. “I wish I could tell you that I remember more about my inventory class, but I do remember you. And I remember your warm nature. And I just thoroughly enjoyed being one of your students. I always felt you were in my corner and that you wanted me to succeed. You instill confidence in your students. As a young, female engineer at a time when there weren’t many of us, I can’t tell you how critically important that was to me and my success.”

“It’s been a privilege and a blessing of my life to be mentored by you and spending time with you,” said Lefteris Iakovou Ph.D. ’92. “My definition of success has to do with the ability to have an impact on people’s lives. I cannot think of a more successful man than you.”

More than 100 former students and colleagues participated to wish Jack a happy birthday.

“Jack I will say this,” said Lewis as he wrapped things up. “It is amazing how many people have been influenced by you. Even if you weren’t influencing a person directly, there was significant influence one generation removed.”

“What a way to spend your birthday,” Jack said in closing. “And with people who meant so much to me over time and who contributed so much to my life.”

Other Articles of Interest