Gary Parker Announces Plan to Retire

Nov 18, 2011 | Atlanta, GA

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  • R. Gary Parker, PhD

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Barbara Christopher
Industrial and Systems Engineering
404.385.3102

After forty years of dedicated service to Georgia Tech, R. Gary Parker, associate chair for graduate studies in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), will retire effective November 30, 2011. Parker's primary responsibility has been dealing with policy matters relative to all graduate academic programs, activities, and curricula, including graduate admissions.

John Jarvis, ISyE school chair at the time, appointed Parker to the role of associate chair for academic programs in 1996, a position that included both undergraduate and graduate studies.  In 2002, a separate undergraduate associate chair was named, and Parker then concentrated solely on graduate studies. Jarvis urged Parker to focus on bringing in the “best PhD students possible.” Parker took Jarvis’ advice and began recruiting some the best and brightest.

“I was exceptionally fortunate to have colleagues, especially the school chair, who fully understood what needed to be done and who unselfishly assisted me every step of the way in going after the most talented PhD applicants. It took a long time, but I do believe that we now operate in a very rarefied air with regard to the quality of all of our graduate programs, but most crucially the PhD program.  At the end of the day, it was that commitment that made good things start to happen,” said Parker.  "Along the way, we also created a separate stand-alone PhD program in operations research. I was and am very proud of that."

Parker began his career at Georgia Tech in ISyE as an assistant professor in 1972.  Since then, he has held the role of associate professor, associate director for undergraduate programs, professor, associate chair and director of academic programs.  Parker is persistent in acknowledging the guidance he received from faculty members when he joined ISyE, and feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to call them “colleagues.”

“Most notably, I would like to point to my old friend C.M. (Mike) Shetty.  One of the most scholarly people on the faculty then, he was a senior and highly respected faculty member who found time to interact with me, and slowly, he became more than a colleague, but also a real mentor and ultimately a good friend,” said Parker.

Besides overseeing the graduate academics, Parker remains active in research relative to the following areas: Graphs, Combinatorial Scheduling Theory, Complexity Theory. This includes continued participation as a program faculty member in the Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization.

"Since accepting the role as associate chair for graduate studies, Gary has provided important leadership to ISyE’s graduate programs," said Jane Ammons, H. Milton and Carolyn J. Stewart School Chair.  "I would like to thank Gary for his sustained contributions to our program, and wish him joy and excellent adventures in the next chapters of his life."

Upon Parker’s retirement, Paul Kvam, professor in ISyE, will be named new associate chair for graduate studies.  Drawing from years of experience, Parker offers Kvam these words of wisdom:

“Try to stay focused on academic quality as well as in program creation.  Make substantial use of your most esteemed faculty colleagues.  Keep some sense of humor if at all possible and don't take yourself too seriously,” offered Parker.

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