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April 25: Tepper School of Business Professor Egon Balas Awarded Honorary Doctorate From University of Liege in Belgium


Geof Becker                       

Tepper School of Business Professor Egon Balas Awarded
Honorary Degree From University of Liege in Belgium

Egon Balas PITTSBURGH—Described as one of the pioneers in the field of operations research and "a man of great courage and deep humanity," Tepper School of Business Professor Egon Balas recently was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Liege, in Liege, Belgium.

Balas is the University Professor of Industrial Administration and Applied Mathematics and the Thomas Lord Professor of Operations Research at the Tepper School. Balas was awarded the honorary degree on March 20. He received the award from the president of the university, Bernard Rentier, who presented it "in the name of His Majesty the King of Belgium."

Yves Crama, director general of the School of Management, introduced Balas, saying, in part, "Today, we pay homage to a great scientist, but also to a man whose courage and deep humanity have elicited the most sincere respect of all those who, like me, were fortunate enough to meet him and to get to know him."

Balas was born in Romania of Hungarian Jewish parents before World War II. He joined the Hungarian communist party and an anti-Nazi resistance group. He was arrested and tortured. After the war, he worked in Romanian ministries, was appointed to a diplomatic post in London, but was arrested again, this time by the Romanian communist authorities influenced by Stalinist purges.
Held two years in solitary confinement, he refused to cooperate in staging a fake trial and was freed only after the death of Stalin. He wrote of these experiences in "Will to Freedom: A Perilous Journey Through Fascism and Communism," published by Syracuse University Press, 2000, and republished as a paperback in 2008.
Balas also has been awarded the John Von Neumann Theory Prize of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences and the Gold Medal of the European Association of Operational Research Societies.