Smith named inaugural Joe W. Forehand/Accenture distinguished professor

Published: Jan 6, 2016 8:00:00 AM
Media Contact: Gail Riese,, 334-844-3447

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Alice E. Smith has been named as the inaugural Joe W. Forehand/Accenture distinguished professor in Auburn University’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. She was department chair from 1999-2011, and has also served as H. Allen and Martha Reed professor and Philpott-WestPoint Stevens professor.

Smith’s research interests include the analysis, modeling and optimization of complex systems with emphasis on computation inspired by natural systems. Principal investigator on more than $7 million of sponsored research, she holds one U.S. patent and several international patents and has authored more than 200 publications. Several of her papers are among the most highly cited in their respective journals. Smith is a registered professional engineer in Alabama and Pennsylvania. She earned degrees at Rice University, Saint Louis University and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Smith was awarded the IIE Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award in 2012, the Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences Award from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences in 2009 and received the Senior Research Award from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering in 2001. 

Established by Accenture, the distinguished professorship is named in honor of Joe W. Forehand, a 1971 industrial engineering graduate of Auburn University, for his dedication, service and leadership to the global management consulting and technology services and outsourcing company, its employees and shareholders. Forehand joined Accenture in 1972 in its Atlanta office and became a partner 10 years later. As Accenture's CEO from 1999-2004, he led the company through a period of significant change and growth from 66,000 employees and $9.6 billion in net revenues to 103,000 employees and $13.7 billion in net revenues. He was named Accenture chairman in February 2001 and held that position until he retired in August 2006.

“We truly appreciate this gift from Accenture, which honors a remarkable alumnus and generous benefactor,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. “This professorship will allow the college to strengthen and enhance our industrial and systems engineering program and support our distinguished and internationally recognized faculty. Alice is most deserving of this honor.”

Forehand received the Carl S. Sloane Award for Excellence, the Morgan Stanley Award for Global Commerce sponsored by the Computerworld Honors Program and the Institute of Industrial Engineers’ Captain of Industry Award. He was named as a distinguished alumnus by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and was elected to the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.

He and his wife, Gayle, a 1971 graduate of the Harbert College of Business, have remained committed to Auburn University, and are members of the engineering Ginn Society, as well as the university’s 1856 and Petrie societies. Forehand also served for eight years on the Auburn University Foundation board of directors and chaired its investment committee for four years. He and his wife currently serve as co-chairs on the Because This is Auburn $1 billion comprehensive campaign.