In Memoriam

Douglas C. Iles (1960-2016)

Director, Personal Financial Planning Program
Department of Finance and Law

9 years at CMU

Doug Iles passed away on May 30, 2016.

A native of Saginaw, a loyal alumnus, and a natural-born educator, Doug Iles brought transformational change in the CBA’s Personal Financial Planning Program and the lives of countless students.  Moreover, his contribution to Central Michigan University went far beyond curriculum development and individualized student mentoring.  Doug leveraged his considerable success in the world of finance to advance CMU—as a member of the CMU Development Board, Chair of its Investment Committee and also as Chair for the CMU Medical School Fundraising Committee.   

Doug touched the lives of scores of students in a host of ways.  He secured the Certified Financial Planning (CFP®) Board Certification for CMU’s Personal Financial Planning Program—adding prestige to the degree all his students earned. In all of Michigan there are only three CFP® Board Registered Bachelor Degree Programs.

Doug started dozens of financial planning students into their careers.  He organized the PFP program semi-annual Career Night, attracting prominent employers to campus each semester; he created a CFP® certification workshop or boot camp, delivered in May of each year, to prepare students to successfully take the CFP® certification exam; he mentored a student team that competed in the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC) 2016 National Plan Competition in which they won second place.  

Doug approached teaching with the same enthusiasm he had for life.  This is manifested in the myriad of public comments made by his students.  Consider the following excerpts:

“Professor Iles was by far the best professor I have taken at Central. He has established a very successful career and wants to help students create their own path. His classes were always interesting and you would not want to miss them”.

“Best teacher I have ever had in my entire life, he inspired me to go into finance. I went to every class because I actually wanted to”. 


“This man would do whatever he can to help you. He expects a lot, but you will learn and be grateful for every bit of it”.

“Because of the huge impact Doug had on me and what I learned from him, I changed my major to financial planning. I probably wouldn't have if Doug wasn't the great, caring, helpful person that he was. I honestly looked at him as my "academic father". The personal financial planning students at C.M.U. were lucky to have one heck of an awesome teacher. I will always remember Doug and I will always be thankful for the impact he made in my life”.

Doug will be missed in so many ways.  In the College of Business Administration, Doug gave students a glimpse of what a professional career is all about.  He was driven to achievement; he modeled professional decorum; he was outwardly optimistic; he was nurturing to would-be majors and he was generous with his time.  No doubt the many new Personal Financial Planners who are now in the industry will be modeling the behaviors they learned from Doug.

We will miss our friend, whose presence always brought a smile to our faces.  He brightened the classrooms in which he taught.  He energized the student organization he sponsored and he set the standard for all who will attempt to follow in his footsteps.  His family and friends surely know that Doug touched the lives of hundreds of students and his legacy will live on for generations to come.

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..."