At Stanford, interest in operations research developed first in the mid-1950s, led by Kenneth Arrow, Samuel Karlin, Gerald Lieberman, Herbert Scarf, and Harvey Wagner.  Because of the importance of this new discipline and the significant research and teaching activities in the area that had developed in several departments by the late 1950s, Arrow and Lieberman suggested to Albert Bowker, then Dean of Graduate Studies, that he form a committee in the early 1960s to explore the possibility of coordinating these activities.  Provost Frederick E. Terman approved and appointed Arrow to chair that committee for the academic year 1960-61.  Lieberman was appointed chair of the coordinating committee for the following academic year.  The committee recommended that an interdepartmental committee be established to administer a Ph.D. program in Operations Research.  The University approved, and the committee was formed in 1962, with Lieberman as its first chair.

The initial committee also included James Howell, Samuel Karlin, Alan Manne, Herbert Scarf, Daniel Teichrow, and Harvey Wagner.  Charles Bonini, Frederick Hillier, Roy Murphy, Arthur Veinott, and Peter Winters joined the committee soon thereafter, with Ronald Howard and Robert Wilson following a bit later.  The program was an immediate success with seven students taking Ph.D. degrees in 1965.  In 1966, George Dantzig joined the group.

In 1966, Arthur Veinott proposed to Joseph Pettit, then Dean of the School of Engineering, that the Department of Operations Research be established in the school.  This department was formed in 1967 with Lieberman as Executive Head.  Richard Cottle and Donald Iglehart came to Stanford to join in the founding of the department.  In addition to Cottle, Iglehart, Lieberman, and Veinott, the department's founding team included Arrow, Dantzig, Hillier, Manne, and Rudolf Kalman.

The Operations Research Program now resides within the Department of Management Science and Engineering.  The department is the outcome of mergers conducted in 1996 with the Department of Engineering-Economic Systems and in 2000 with the Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management to leverage synergies and promote interdisciplinary work.  The program's core faculty are complemented by affiliated faculty from the Department, as well as the Engineering School at large.  These affiliated faculty augment the program, especially in dimensions of application areas that leverage operations research methods.

Much of the above material has been adapted from:

Bowker, A. H., Olkin, I., and Veinott, A.F., Jr., "Gerald J. Lieberman," Probability in the Engineering and Informational Sciences, Volume 9, 1995, pages 3-26.

Department of Management Science and Engineering, School of Engineering, Stanford University