Department of Mathematical Sciences

History of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University

James P. (Rick) Jarvis


Rick Jarvis is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He received a B.S. (1971) in mathematics from the University of North Carolina and an S.M. (1973) in electrical engineering and Ph.D. (1975) in operations research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rick became a member of the Clemson Mathematical Sciences Department in 1975 as an assistant professor in the discipline of Operations Research. Perino (Lin) Dearing and he formed the pioneering faculty of that area of the Mathematical Sciences, emphasizing topics in Operations Research and Management Science. (The faculty previously included two other such members but they remained in Clemson for only a very short time. Additional faculty in Operations Research were hired later.) Rick was a member of the Institute of Operations Research and Management Science, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the American Mathematical Society. He is pictured here with the plaque for the departmental award for Outstanding Service to Graduate Students that he received in 2006.

Upon arriving in Clemson, Professor Jarvis immediately initiated and offered two graduate courses, Stochastic Models in Operations Research I and II, that proved quite popular. A number of graduate students took these and other courses in Operations Research and subsequently wrote research papers for their master's or doctoral degrees. Some of the papers were done in conjunction with organizations within South Carolina (the public school system, the local county sheriff's office, and several local industries). Rick's research included development of algorithms and software for network optimization. He and Professor Douglas Shier produced matching procedures used for many years by the American Mathematical Society for employment interview scheduling at their annual meeting. Rick also collaborated with other members of the faculty and students on problems associated with school bus routing, color sorting and inventory management for apparel manufacturing, and university course scheduling and registration. He also developed several new courses in operations research, computation, and modeling with Professor Shier and other faculty.

Dr. Jarvis was promoted to Associate Professor in 1979 and to Professor in 1987. During his tenure at Clemson, he was Director of the Joint Program in Management Science, Director of Graduate Studies in Mathematical Sciences, and Chair of the Mathematical Sciences Department in 1998 after serving as Acting Head in 1993-1994. In addition to these administrative duties, he served as Coordinator of Instruction for Mathematical Sciences from 1999 through 2007. In this position, he employed his training in operations research and computation to improve the efficiency of course scheduling and registration in the department. Dr. Christine Kraft (one of his doctoral students) and he devised a new final exam schedule that greatly reduced student conflicts and was adopted by the University in 2007. He was also a principal in the department's adoption of common exams and coordination of multi-section courses in freshmen mathematics, group-based active-learning teaching methods in calculus, and effective mathematics placement testing for all incoming Clemson students.

Professor Jarvis spent sabbaticals at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and at the Center for Fire Research of the National Bureau of Standards. Rick's hobbies included playing basketball during lunch time and biking.

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