December 01, 2020
Cerry Klein, a beloved professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering (IMSE), retired in August 2020 after 36 years of service to Mizzou.
Klein served as the IMSE department chair for seven of those years. He also served as director of undergraduate studies and director of graduate studies, with those duties overlapping from 2001-2007.
“He selflessly served the faculty and did all he could to help us become successful,” current IMSE chair James Noble said.
Beyond supporting his fellow faculty professionally, Klein had a tradition that all faculty and staff in Mizzou Engineering looked forward to on Friday afternoons while classes were in session.
“Fridays were cookie days in Dr. Klein’s classes. Students would bring cookies to share with the class,” Noble said. “It was common for Dr. Klein to drop by our offices or around to the various staff after class and continue to pass out cookies.
“You could always count on a Friday afternoon snack after lunch!”
Teaching at Mizzou
Klein taught many classes over his time at Mizzou, including mathematical optimization courses which were very rigorous and strictly graded.
“If you received an ‘A’ in his course, it was a real accomplishment,” Noble said. “Dr. Klein was passionate about challenging students to think critically.”
Klein’s passion to challenge students earned him his students’ respect, as Klein was an early honoree of the Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Award. He also was voted “Outstanding Industrial Engineering Professor” by Mizzou IMSE graduates over 25 times during his career and received the College of Engineering’s “Outstanding Engineering Faculty Teaching Award” multiple times.
In addition to his Kemper Award, Klein received the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers and was named a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. He also served as the program director of the Service Enterprise Systems program and the Manufacturing Enterprise Systems program at the National Science Foundation.
“Overall, Dr. Cerry Klein left us a legacy of excellence,” Noble said. “He contributed to it personally and enabled those around him to pursue it as well.”
Klein, over the course of his career, received research funding from the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, The Kauffman Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Boeing, Union Electric (now Ameren Corporation), Missouri Department of Transportation, and Unilever.
Klein earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwest Missouri State University. He earned his master’s and doctorate from Purdue University. His research areas included health care, energy systems and logistics, entrepreneurship, nonlinear and linear integer programming, dynamic programming, network optimization, multi-criteria and multi-attribute decision making, and scheduling.