In Memoriam

Dr. Robert Cook (1947-2014)

Professor of Logistics and Marketing

35 years at CMU

Robert passed away November 7, 2014.

Dr. Cook taught in the Marketing and Hospitality Services Administration department from 1979 to 2014. He developed Central Michigan University’s Logistics Management program and, under his careful guidance, it became one of the five largest programs in the United States.

Doc, as he was affectionately known, leaves a great legacy. He was an active and productive researcher throughout his career and the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the prestigious CMU Excellence in Teaching Award (twice honored) and the Jerry and Felicia Campbell Endowed Professorship.  He provided invaluable advice and assistance to his students and colleagues and was considered by many to be a significant role model.  Bob’s greatest impact was evident in the area of teaching and student mentoring, internship and job placement. Under his leadership, thousands of students were placed in lucrative positions in the fields of Logistics, Supply Chain Management and Marketing. Bob enjoyed his role as an advisor to the Logistics Management Council (LMC) Honor Society and to the Supply Chain Management Association.

The giving spirit of his father allowed Bob to earn his undergraduate degree, Master’s Degree and Ph.D. at Michigan State University. Bob’s father, Harold Cook, worked extra jobs so his son wouldn’t have to work w​hile he attended MSU; it was important to him that his son focus on his studies. Bob fulfilled a promise to his father when he “paid it forward” and provided a full scholarship to a promising chemistry major student at his father’s alma mater, the University of Missouri. Like his father, Bob was also a veteran, serving in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant.

Bob’s wit, wisdom and positive spirit endeared him to faculty, staff and students alike. He will be truly missed by all.

Dr. Kumar Palaniswami (1952-2012)

Professor and ex-chair of the Department of Management

28 years at CMU

Kumar passed away on December 23, 2012. 

Kumar came to CMU by way of a diverse educational background.  One that served him well as a faculty member
and Department Chair:

Kumar earned degrees in:

  • Industrial Management
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Operations Research
  • Management Science 

This diverse educational background gave him the knowledge base, skill and acumen to investigate a broad range of societal challenges across the course of his professional career. In fact it is a career of accomplishment—one that can barely be summarized in the 20 pages that represent the last curriculum vitae he prepared.  Kumar’s most recent work centered around United Nations Environmental Protection initiatives, yet earlier in his career he investigated;

  • ​The onset of electronic commerce
  • Lean manufacturing
  • Food security
  • The use of artificial intelligence in business planning
and a host of other topics.

While at CMU Kumar established the Center for Supply Chain Management through extramural grant. That center offered and delivered consulting services to Michigan firms and spurred numerous Journal publications in the area of supply chain management for Kumar and his colleagues.

Kumar developed the relationship with Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU). Since 2003, about 100 JNTU students have earned their MBA degree at CMU.

Last but certainly not least, Kumar served as Management Dept. Chair for 7 years (2000-07).

These were just a few of the big things that Kumar did—they tell us something about the legacy Kumar left.  Yet often the smallest details give one the most heartwarming insight into a person’s character.  

Kumar fell ill some time ago.  This past year work became a challenge.  Were it not for the support of his family and his CMU family life would have been even more difficult.  Despite his illness, Kumar was unfailing in his commitment to his teaching and his students.  On good days and bad, Kumar would summon the energy necessary to prepare and deliver class.  Last semester, health issues had him hospitalized.  As soon as Kumar was dismissed from the hospital, he was on his way to class once again to shepherd his classes through the material necessary to assure that they were well prepared for their next class had a broad vision of the field of operations management.

Kumar’s passing will leave a void in the lives of many.  As the years go by the pain of his passing will lessen and we will focus our memories on the enduring charm of his character and impact he had on the literally thousands of students that he mentored.

​His family should know that Kumar’s spirit will remain with us for years to come.  In the words of Irving Berlin: "The song has ended, but his melody lingers on..."