The Broad College’s Department of Supply Chain Management is a nationally known powerhouse, offering top-ranked supply chain and logistics programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. A pillar that defines our success in supply chain is the dedication and exceptional leadership of our faculty at Broad.
In October, two professors emeriti received a high distinction from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals by earning their place on its inaugural list of 2023 Distinguished Fellows. Donald Bowersox (in memoriam), professor emeritus of marketing and supply chain management, and David Closs, John H. McConnell Chair Emeritus, were honored for their sustained and significant contributions to the discipline.
CSCMP is one of the premier professional associations in the supply chain management field. When CSCMP was founded in 1963 (then as the National Council of Physical Distribution Management), it was one of the first organizations to focus on transportation, warehousing and inventory, helping grow the field of logistics that we know today.
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“I am so pleased to see the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals develop this program to honor academic partners who have both paved the way for and elevated logistics as a discipline, further impacting how we envision supply chain management today,” Judith Whipple, interim dean of the Broad College, said.
“The Distinguished Fellows program provides important recognition for individuals who have made significant contributions to the academic field as well as the practice of logistics and supply chain management, demonstrating a passion and commitment to advancing and disseminating knowledge that would ultimately positively impact industry and society.”
Whipple, a past board member of CSCMP, noted her personal connections with both of the honorees, having worked with them first as mentors, when she was earning her Ph.D. in marketing and logistics at Michigan State, and then as colleagues. Today, Whipple holds the endowed Donald J. Bowersox and Robert W. Thull Professorship in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, which she says is nothing short of an honor.
Throughout his lifetime and career, Bowersox was considered by many around the globe as the “grandfather of logistics,” coauthoring the industry’s first logistics textbook and serving as a founding member and second president of CSCMP. He was a visionary, advocating for the need for collaboration between academia and industry — a hallmark that has persisted throughout CSCMP’s 61-year history.
“Don and the other founders were prolific in envisioning a need for an integrative approach to managing transportation, warehousing and inventory,” Whipple said, “and considering how this integration impacted not only a company’s costs but also its customer service.”
Bowersox’s impact has been felt along the banks of the Red Cedar as well as around the world. He was an enthusiastic faculty member at MSU for more than 40 years after completing his bachelor’s, MBA and doctoral degrees as a Spartan. Bowersox also served as interim dean of the Broad College from 2001 to 2002 and was honored at the culmination of his term with the college’s first Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award.
He was passionate about academic rigor as well as practical relevancy. He led industry-supported research projects and chaired 27 doctoral dissertations, ensuring that Spartans were making a difference in the academy, in the classroom and in the boardroom.
“Don was a larger-than-life force, but also someone who was down to earth and willing to help anyone,” Whipple recalled. “He had the ability to see things in people that they did not yet believe in themselves. As a recipient of his generosity in terms of the opportunities he afforded me and the mentoring he provided, and his confidence that I could accomplish more than I believed I could, I am forever grateful to Don.”
Like Bowersox, Closs is a passionate leader in the logistics field. He was one of the earliest to apply computer models to logistics operations and planning to improve decision making around location analysis, inventory management and forecasting and vehicle routing. He maintained close industry ties to ensure that these models reflected realistic conditions and helped address critical problems with creative solutions.
“I am very proud to be acknowledged in CSCMP’s inaugural list of Distinguished Fellows,” he said, noting how his involvement with CSCMP over 50 years fostered his development as an academic, a professional and a leader.
“I am also honored to be included in the group of Fellows with my mentors, including Dr. Donald Bowersox from MSU, and many of my colleagues who I have worked with on many projects,” he continued. “Finally, I am proud to be recognized as a Fellow in the organization where my father, Joseph Closs, was one of the original founders. He would be particularly proud since I once told him that I would never want to work in supply chain.”
Closs, also a three-time Spartan graduate, made an impact for MSU by developing and enhancing the Broad College’s reputation as No. 1 in supply chain management. During his 40 years on the college’s faculty, Closs led the redesign of both the undergraduate and MBA supply chain programs and directed the design of the M.S. in Supply Chain Management program. For 10 years, he served as the department’s chairperson, which he reflected on as “guiding the transition of the department from the ‘old guard’ founders of the discipline to the next generation of faculty.”
Simone Peinkofer, associate professor of supply chain management, prepared an introduction for Closs at the CSCMP awards ceremony, presented at its Academic Research Symposium on Oct. 3, and illuminated Closs’ legacy.
“[Closs] is leaving a permanent mark on the supply chain management community: His mentorship, knowledge and expertise have shaped and inspired generations of supply chain management students, professionals and academics, like myself.
“Dave has pushed the boundaries of supply chain management, addressed relevant problems and provided viable solutions,” she continued. “His dedication to excellence has not only enhanced the academic landscape but also significantly impacted real-world supply chain management.”
Whipple noted that in addition to Bowersox and Closs, many individuals recognized on CSCMP’s inaugural list completed their doctoral degrees here — including Bernard J. LaLonde, John T. Mentzer and Thomas W. Speh in memoriam, along with Patricia Daugherty and Dale Rogers — or were faculty at MSU at some point during their career.
“It really demonstrates how the roots of the field, in part, were developed here at MSU,” Whipple said.
With this industry recognition, supply chain management continues to be a shining strength for the Broad College and the university as a whole. What has endured throughout the decades is a shared passion among our faculty for making a lasting impact — one that inspires the future of business.