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Obituaries for March 2010

1 March 2010 1,235 views No Comment

Søren Bisgaard


    Søren Bisgaard, Isenberg Professor of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, died in Boston on December 14, 2009, after a year-long struggle against mesothelioma.

    Bisgaard was an expert on quality management and applied statistics who had an international reputation. His was recognized for his work and granted several awards, including the Ellis R. Ott Award (1990), the Wilcoxon Prize (1998), the Shewell Award (1981 and 1987), the Brumbaugh Award (1987, 1995, and 2008), the Shewhart Medal (2002), and the George Box Award (2004). He was a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and American Society for Quality and an academician of the International Academy for Quality.

    Bisgaard began his studies in engineering, earning a bachelor’s in production engineering from the Copenhagen College of Engineering in 1975 and a master’s in industrial engineering from the Technical University of Denmark in 1979. He went on to earn a PhD in statistics from the University of Wisconsin in 1985. His broad background, together with an abiding love for the philosophy of science, was evident throughout his academic career.

    From 1987 to 1998, Bisgaard was professor of industrial engineering and director of the Center for Quality and Productivity at the University of Wisconsin. He then served as professor for the Institute for Technology Management and director of the department for quality management and technology at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Since 2001, he was a professor of industrial statistics at the University of Amsterdam. In 2002, he was named the Eugene M. Isenberg Professor of Technology Management in the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, a post he held until his death. He was the Isenberg school’s interim dean from 2006–2007.

    Bisgaard published numerous papers, books, and book chapters on topics related to industrial statistics and quality engineering. His research was fueled by real problems, often those encountered while consulting. His training as an engineer was instrumental in leading him to important applied problems and in understanding their basic structure; his background as a statistician and scientist led him to general solutions with wide application. Bisgaard’s “Quality Quandaries” articles in Quality Engineering were a noteworthy vehicle for reaching a broad audience of industrial practitioners. He was interested in applying quality improvement techniques to a variety of public issues, as illustrated in his most recent book: Solutions to the Healthcare Quality Crisis: Cases and Examples of Lean Six Sigma in Health Care.

    Bisgaard was a leader in industrial statistics. He was in demand as a keynote speaker for international conferences and as a consultant for major corporations. He served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Quality Technology, Quality Engineering, and Technometrics and was, for many years, on the management committee of Technometrics. Bisgaard was frequently asked to serve on the selection boards for major awards in fields associated with quality improvement and applied statistics. He played a major role in establishing the European Network of Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS), which advanced industrial statistics in Europe and illustrated his commitment to organizing and supporting the nexus between academics and statistical practitioners in industry and business.

    Alongside his many professional accomplishments, Bisgaard will be remembered for his generosity and support of young colleagues, insight and erudition, love of sailing (true to his Danish upbringing, he was an expert sailor), strong principles and high academic standards, good spirits, personal charm, and warm companionship.

    Bisgaard is survived by his wife, Sue Ellen Bisgaard, and brothers—Jesper, Peter, and Jens—and their families.

    Contributions in his memory may be made to the International Mesothelioma Program or ENBIS.

    James F. Hannan

    James F. Hannan, a professor emeritus in the Department of Statistics and Probability at Michigan State University, died January 26, 2010; he was 87.

    Hannan was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts. After early graduation from St. Michael’s College, he served in World War II as a meteorologist for the Army Air Corp in India and China. Following the war, he accomplished graduate work at Harvard (MS, 1947) and the University of North Carolina (PhD, 1953). Hannan taught three years at Catholic University in Washington, DC and joined Michigan State University in 1953. Perhaps he is best known for his work in repeated games and compound and empirical Bayes decision theory. He was recognized as a Fellow of ASA and IMS. Details of his interesting life will appear in “A Conversation with James Hannan” in Statistical Science.

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