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50 years of Operational Research at Lancaster University

Participants at the 50th Anniversary event

31 October 2013

We celebrated 50 years of Operational Research at Lancaster University with over 100 alumni, staff and guests on Friday 27 September 2013.

It was on 1 October 1963 that Pat Rivett took up his chair at Lancaster University, the very first professor in the University. It was great to see so many alumni back, and it was clear from their reactions that they had enjoyed the day. They greatly enjoyed anecdotes and memories of particular people and places, as well as the shared experiences of the rain, the weather and sheep! It was interesting to hear about the way that advances in technology and changes in society had affected the students’ experiences over the years.

The programme for the day was in three parts. In the morning the University archivist talked about how the University had come to Lancaster and talked about how OR had come to the University. He showed a short clip of Pat Rivett on prime time BBC television from October 1963, and played part of a recording of an interview with Pat describing how he came to Lancaster. The morning ended with some reminiscences by .

After lunch, Head of Department described developments in the Department over the 50 years, illustrating his talk with a memorable (for some) pop song from each decade, before specific talks on teaching (), research (), and external links (John Ranyard). Some concluding remarks were given by Geoff Royston (former external examiner and President of the Operational Research Society).

In the final session former students, one from each decade, talked about what it was like for them. The five alumni speakers travelled from Canada, New Zealand, Scotland and also England to be with us. Their interesting stories included sharing perspectives from Peru and India. The day was wrapped up by Alan Mercer, a founding member of the department.

In the evening invited guests enjoyed a dinner, at which it was a pleasure to welcome Pam Simpson, Mike Simpson’s widow. Mike was the third founding member of the Department, alongside Pat Rivett and Alan Mercer.

It was a very happy day, with many taking this wonderful opportunity to reminisce and reconnect. Some photographs of the event are available on our alumni Flickr site.