On behalf of the EWG-DSS, Fátima Dargam had the pleasure to interview our colleague: Grazia Speranza, also a founding member of the EWG-DSS since 1989 in Madeira. Grazia Speranza is Professor of Operations Research of the University of Brescia since 1990, where she has also actively promoted research via assuming different positions. From 1998 to 2000, she was President of the Research Council, and from 2000 to 2002 she was Vice-President of that University and from 2002 to 2008 Grazia Speranza also worked as the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Brescia. In 2009, EURO has elected Grazia Speranza to be its President for the next mandate. We congratulate Grazia for this achievement and thank her for giving us the opportunity of producing this interview for our Newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading it!
EWG-DSS: Tell us about your research / working experiences with EURO
GS: Since the beginning of 2008 I have actively worked inside EURO, as Vice-President of IFORS (the International Federation of Operational Research Societies) representing EURO. EURO is one of the regional groupings of IFORS. The position of Vice-President of IFORS has offered me the opportunity to get to know IFORS and its organization and, through IFORS, the other regional groupings. In the last couple of years I have also regularly met the Executive Committee of EURO and got in touch with the several issues and challenges EURO is meeting nowadays.
EWG-DSS: What do you think you could contribute during your mandate as President?
GS: EURO is a grouping of 30 national societies. Many of the national societies have a long and consolidated history, numerous individual and institutional members, high quality journals. EURO is a strong grouping because the member societies are strong. The role of EURO with respect to the national societies can be seen as similar to the role of Europe with respect to the European countries. EURO can add value to the national societies and contribute to make the European OR researchers more visible and more successful in a globalized scientific world.
Over the years EURO has created a number of tools to promote Operations Research in Europe, has a successful journal, the European Journal of Operational Research (EJOR), successful conferences, awards, meetings, working groups, workshops, summer and winter institutes,…. The role of EURO has become more and more important. At the EURO conference that was held in Prague in 2007 the number of participants exceeded for the first time the threshold of 2000. The EURO conference in Prague was considered an extraordinarily successful conference. Within the EURO Executive Committee nobody believed the next EURO conference, held in Bonn in 2009 could be more successful. And instead it was, with approximately 2300 participants! This is a clear sign of an increasing interest towards conferences of European size and scope. I believe that one of the challenges EURO has to face is, while keeping the present level of effectiveness and quality of the national societies, to increase at the same time the European level of aggregation.
The previous Presidents of EURO I had the opportunity to work with, Martine Labbé and Valerie Belton, have done excellent work for EURO and I intend to continue their work along the same lines. I intend to cooperate with the national societies to understand what EURO can offer to them and how we can make EURO more useful to their members. One of my goals is to interact with the Presidents of the national societies and to work with them to identify the best balance between the fundamental role of the national societies and the role of EURO. One of the main challenges of EURO I see is the ‘editorial challenge’. Most European governments already identified or intend to identify objective measures to evaluate the quality of scientific publications. It is not easy to measure ‘quality’ and there would be a number of interesting issue to be discussed here. However, as a matter of fact, European universities tend to evaluate the quality of papers of their faculties through the quality of the journals where the papers are published. I think we need to understand whether the best papers by European OR researchers are published at present in the best journals, if the present editorial situation is satisfactory to the European OR researchers and, in case, to understand what the role of EURO can be in improving the situation.
EWG-DSS: How important is the duty of EURO President for you?
GS: I will take this duty extremely seriously. I am currently on sabbatical, after two terms as dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Brescia. I feel I am ready to use my experience to contribute to the success of EURO and, through EURO, of OR research in Europe.
EWG-DSS: How do you see the situation of the Euro Working Groups within EURO? Could it possibly be better promoted?
GS: I have attended in 1989 the EURO Summer Institute on Decision Support Systems in Madeira (Portugal), an exciting opportunity to learn and interact with young researchers. The EURO working group on DSS was created in Madeira and has remained active over the years with initiatives, workshops, this newsletter. I learned from that experience the relevance of a European dimension of the groups of interest. I believe the working groups are extremely important and EURO should promote them at best. I am open to suggestions on possible ways to better promote the working groups. The coordinators may play a key role in the process and I intend to interact with them and carefully listen to their suggestions. We may use the EURO web site, the EURO mailing lists and the EURO conferences more effectively to promote the working groups. We may also create new awards for best papers or careers in specific areas.
GS: “My view of EURO is that EURO is at the service of OR researchers in Europe.”