A classroom in Edward P. Evans Hall has been named in honor of Arthur Swersey, professor emeritus of operations research, who retired this year. Swersey taught at Yale SOM for more than four decades, having arrived when the school opened its doors in 1976.
A group of alumni led by Austin Ligon ’80 and Tom Halsey ’81 made a generous gift to Yale SOM to name the classroom, on the fourth floor of Evans Hall.
“Austin Ligon and I were given the softball assignment of leading the effort to raise the funds to ensure that a classroom in Evans Hall had Art’s name on it forever,” Halsey said. “And how appropriate, because a classroom is where Art is most at home doing what he enjoyed most—teaching.”
Ligon said, “Art was simply the most impactful professor that I had while I was at SOM. I think I may well have taken a class from Art each of the four semesters at the school, and the thinking process he helped me develop was fundamental to everything I have done in the business and civic world.”
Swersey was beloved by generations of students for his passion and creativity as a teacher. He illustrated complex operations concepts with a collection of props and an imaginary stock company of characters.
Halsey came to Swersey’s classroom without a strong quantitative background—a poet, in business school-speak, not a quant jock. “Art was able to teach the poets material that they never thought they could comprehend, much less master,” he said. “He engaged us in cases to which we could relate—the need for quick response times from emergency service providers, how does one decide how many Christmas trees to have in inventory at the start of the holiday selling period, and how to minimize wait time in line at a bank or the DMV office. Add a bit of humor, invent a few characters, tell a few stories, and the subject matter came alive.”
Ligon agreed: “Art assumed every one of us, regardless of background or career direction, could and should learn to use a kit of operations research tools in their everyday practical decision making. And he found incredibly creative ways to help us all get there. That is simply the definition of what a great teacher does, and nothing better honors this than an Art Swersey Classroom at SOM.”
Outside of the classroom, Swersey has consulted frequently for fire and police departments. He is the author of the authoritative Testing 1-2-3: Experimental Design with Applications in Marketing and Service Operations.
Gifts in honor of Arthur Swersey may be made to the Yale SOM Alumni Fund.