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Dr. Paul Jensen (right) with his wife Margaret, son Nathan and his wife Cassandra at the end of his phased retirement  party in 2006.

Dr. Paul Jensen (right) with his wife Margaret, son Nathan and his wife Cassandra at the end of his phased retirement party in 2006.

Written by Professor David Morton

Academic Career Highlights

Professor Emeritus Paul A. Jensen, 2008 faculty portrait.

Professor Emeritus Paul A. Jensen, 2008 faculty portrait.

Paul Allen Jensen was born in Chicago in 1936. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S., and from the University of Pittsburgh with an M.S., both in Electrical Engineering. He worked for Westinghouse Electric Cooperation before earning a Ph.D. in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering (ORIE) from Johns Hopkins University in 1967. That same year, Paul joined the faculty of the Mechanical Engineering (ME) Department at The University of Texas at Austin to help establish the Graduate Program in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. Paul rose through the academic ranks to become the Cullen Trust for Higher Education Endowed Professor in Engineering No. 3.


Among Paul's many publications are several books, two of which are coauthored with his colleagues. These have had a tremendous impact on the field of operations research (OR). His first major book, Network Flow Programming (1980), covered the field of single commodity network flow models and algorithms. This text won the Book of the Year Award from the Institute of Industrial Engineers and was translated into Russian. In the dawning age of microcomputers, Paul published the first compendium of OR computer programs specifically adapted for microcomputers, Microsolve/Operations Research (1983). The Student's Guide to Operations Research (1986) presented a survey of OR noted for its easy readability. His book Operations Research Models and Methods (2003) is unique in its balance between modeling and methodological aspects of OR. All these books reach out to students and practitioners through their stress on modeling and by providing easy availability of solution algorithms.

Academic and Industrial Accomplishments

Paul and Margaret Jensen, with children Allen, Nathan and Deborah, about 1970.

Paul and Margaret Jensen, with children Allen, Nathan and Deborah, about 1970.

During 35 years at The University of Texas at Austin, Paul advised 20 Ph.D. students and 57 M.S students. He taught 19 different courses, six at the undergraduate level and 13 at the graduate level. Paul served as the OR Area Coordinator, as ME Graduate Adviser and as ME Associate Chair. He received the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award from The University of Texas at Austin's Graduate School in 1991 and first prize from the The University of Texas at Austin Innovative Instructional Technology Awards Program in 2006. Paul served the larger operations research community in many ways. He was the General Chair for the fall 1997 national meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) and served as the INFORMS Vice President for Meetings. Paul was named an INFORMS Fellow in 2005 and won the INFORMS Prize for the Teaching of ORMS Practice in 2007.

Operations Research Software

In recent years, and especially since his retirement, Paul turned to the Internet for sharing his experience and his Excel-based computational tools. He developed the web site The site was originally created to support the text Operations Research Models and Methods, but it has grown in content much beyond the text. The site is remarkably effective in supporting the goals of OR education and practice. The site describes models for an enormous variety of OR problems. It provides over 30 add-ins for Microsoft Excel that implement OR methods. Over 100,000 individuals from all over the world have visited it. The testimonials page of the site lists hundreds of comments from students and practitioners attesting to the usefulness of the site and the add-ins. Paul gave a keynote address on his add-ins to a packed room at the INFORMS national meeting in Austin in November 2010, and he last updated his site on March 16, 2011. The web site remains open to the public and its contents are free.

Dr. Jensen, a keynote speaker, presenting his latest software Excel Add-ons at the November 2010 INFORMS conference in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Jensen, a keynote speaker, presenting his latest software Excel Add-ons at the November 2010 INFORMS conference in Austin, Texas.

Remembrances from Colleagues in Operations Research:

Paul was a kind and gentle teacher who helped me get off to a good start here in ORIE. He will be missed.
-Eric Bickel

Paul Jenen's contributions in operations research and the management sciences (OR/MS) through his research, education and service are well known and well documented. I prefer to share a somewhat more personal account of Paul's contributions.

I first met Paul in the fall of 1994 at an ORSA/TIMS meeting in Detroit. I was a recently-graduated Ph.D. student searching for a faculty position. Paul attended the talk I gave at that meeting in Detroit. After joining the faculty at The University of Texas at Austin the following fall and working with Paul as a colleague over the next decade, I learned that Paul's sharp and insightful questions following my talk were standard form for him.

In my first semester at The University of Texas at Austin, Paul was scheduled to teach the Linear Programming course to incoming M.S. and Ph.D. students, but he gave the course to me and he instead taught another. Paul knew that my teaching this particular course would help launch my academic career. Paul's gesture was selfless and fully representative of his nature and of the way in which he has conducted his professional career.

I first learned of operations research when I was an undergraduate student majoring in physics and mathematics. My small liberal arts college didn't have courses in OR, but I bought Hillier and Lieberman's Introduction to Operations Research. And, I bought The Student's Guide to Operations Research that Paul wrote to accompany the Hillier and Lieberman textbook. I devoured both texts, and in this way Paul helped launch my career in OR more than a decade before I met him. I know from a number of other colleagues that I am not alone in this regard.

Paul devoted enormous effort to developing user-friendly Excel Add-Ins that span much of OR/MS, and he distributed these freely via his website. Today, for many undergraduates and other newcomers to OR, these add-ins play much the same role that his Student's Guide textbook did for me more than two decades ago. The Graduate Program in ORIE will ensure Paul's Add-Ins continue to be freely available.

Paul was dear friend and a wonderful colleague. I will miss him greatly.
-Dave Morton

Paul Jensen was an outstanding friend, Professor and colleague. He set a standard that all of us should strive to emulate. I have many fond memories of Paul and his family reaching back to 1967 when, as a ME student, I helped him move into his first office at the university.
-Wes Barnes

Although Paul had many great characteristics worthy of emulation, I will remember him fondly most for two things: a sharp mind and a sharp wit.

Paul always asked the most insightful and incisive questions, especially during seminars. As a young faculty candidate interviewing at The University of Texas at Austin, I still remember his questioning after my seminar as the most probing of any I received during my whole job search. Paul continued to attend OR seminars after his retirement and he retained his characteristic insight.

I also always thought of Paul as the "youngest" ORIE faculty member. Much of his youthful attitude was manifested in his humor, which ranged from the sophisticated to the refreshingly ribald. Paul, being about 25 years older than I, was always someone I wanted to be like 25 years from now.

Finally, I'll remember Paul as a "founding father" and the heart of ORIE at The University of Texas at Austin, in addition to being a great colleague and friend.
-John Hasenbein

I knew Paul since the beginning of my career here at The University of Texas at Austin, 16 years ago. He was the best friend to have during difficult times and the toughest judge of one's professional work — a combination of passion and skills that I have never seen before. He was the soul of our Operations Research group. I will miss sitting next to him during the Friday seminars and laughing at his witty jokes at lunch. I will miss discussing with him the latest Add-ins he has coded or the latest biography book he has read. He will be forever in my heart.
-Elmira Popova

Paul was an inspiration to all that met him. He was the first person I got to know when I arrived at The University of Texas 26 years ago, and through the years, I spent many wonderful holidays with him and his family. We became especially close when we began to collaborate on an introductory book in Operations Research. After many long nights and weekends, it was finally published in 2003. I have to concede that he did a majority of the work on the text and just about all of the work on the accompanying website. We were fortunate in that the book won the Hamilton award at UT, and were planning to revise it next year.

I am most appreciative for Paul's efforts to revise our undergraduate course, Engineering Finance. Although retired, he couldn't stay away from the university and spent most of 2005 creating online lectures, exercises, and Excel add-ins for the course, which I now teach. The website that is available to all is a fitting tribute to his creativity, his devotion to his students, his technical skills, and his indomitable energy. He was a friend, a colleague, and a mentor who I will never forget.
-Jonathan Bard

Notes from Former Students

Paul Jensen was truly one of the kindest and gentlest souls I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. While I never had the chance to work directly with or take a class from him, I had many interactions with him during my five years in UT's ORIE master's and Ph.D. programs. In 2005, I attended a summer class on stochastic programming which he was auditing, and his impressive intellect, extensive experience, and bright personality made the class all the more wonderful and interesting. I have been an avid user of his Operations Research Models and Methods textbook and Excel add-ins, both in my academic and professional life. Paul's legacy will continue to live on in the hearts of those who knew him, and in the numerous contributions he made to the field of operations research during his long and fruitful career. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Jensen family during this difficult time.
-Dennis P. Michalopoulos, Ph.D., TidalTV

As we all miss Dr. Jensen, I have a story I'd like to share. One of my favorite memories from his Network Flow class (in 2001): The answer to a problem was 42. He asked the class, "what is 42?" Some eager classmate repeated the question. Dr. Jensen said, "No, what is 42?" I replied, "It is life, the universe, and everything," in an obvious reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe. He said that was the right answer and moved on to a discussion of the next problem. It was so great to see his understated humor.

Thanks for coordinating his memorial,
-Assistant Professor Karthik Ramachandran, Cox School of Business SMU

I am really sad to hear about this. He was a very humble and incredibly nice person. And it is also very shocking because I saw him at last INFORMS [conference] and he was very well. I will always remember him as the professor with great enthusiasm for teaching and love for OR.
-Assistant Professor Sinan Erzurumlu, Babson College, MA

I attended Texas as an undergrad and Professor Jensen was my instructor for Engineering Finance and Operations Engineering (I think). I graduated in 1997. Professor Jensen was a nice man. He was always approachable when you needed a question answered and always made time available. Whenever I visited the campus, I would always look up four people. Dr. Jensen, Dr. Ezekoye, Dr. Ball and Dr. Matthews. They certainly helped shape my undergraduate experience as I had two classes with each of them. I feel fortunate to have had them as instructors.
-Paul Durand, U.S. Patent Attorney

Thoughts and prayers for his family. Wonderful man and brilliant instructor. He will be missed in the OR world!
-Kyle Jones

I am very saddened to hear the loss of Dr. Jensen. He is a great teacher and always be available to help struggling students in the time of need. He will be greatly missed. I'd studied in his class and he was also on my Ph.D. committee when I was at UT.
-Anukal Chiralaksanakul, Bangkok, Thailand

Prof. Jensen was a great teacher who always emphasized that all the complicated theorical ideas must have a meaningful practical application to be a worth while research topic. He was very kind and helpful to all the students including myself, making my time in the ORIE program a pleasant and enriching one. I will miss him tremendously.
-Siwate Rojanasoonthon, Siam Commercial Bank PCL, Bangkok, Thailand

I am deeply distressed by the news that Dr. Jensen left us. What could be more disheartening that I could not get the news on time to arrange a flight to Austin to attend his funeral? I always felt so close to Dr. Jensen and I was not ready to lose him yet. He was truly one of the greatest persons I have known in my whole life. I feel fortunate to have worked with Dr. Jensen so closely and no other student during my time at UT had that kind of opportunity. We taught ME-353 in fall 2005 making extensive use of his website and I remember he would put in great efforts, with so much enthusiasm, to make sure that every bit of knowledge he had was recorded on DVDs and was available on his website. Dr. Jensen and I developed a whole lot of on-line teaching material and I occasionally taught the class. In this process, I learned so much about engineering finance that to this day I continue to make use of that knowledge. My wife and I used the factor calculator on his website a lot when we bought our first home, much to the bankers' surprise we always had our numbers ready. I take consolation with the fact that Dr. Jensen will continue to live forever through his favorite website full of Excel add-ins and Flash utilities.
-Vishv Jeet

I worked in the M.E. Dept. from 1979-2004 and knew Dr. Jensen well. He loved to bump me with his wheelchair and I always told people he tried to run me down. He would look so innocent and just smile and laugh. I'm glad I had the opportunity to work with him. He will be missed.
-Kathy Worley

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