Lester Ingber's Archive


NPS Tenure Review 1987 (which officially never happened)

While a National Research Council (NRC) Senior Research Associate at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Operations Research (OR) Dept in Monterey CA in 1985-1986, I was asked to review the OR Department. For some reason, the NRC contact decided to make my review open to the OR Dept, which they had been concerned about for a few previous years. (They were considering dropping that Dept from their program.) That was OK with me. My review was not at all flattering. In any case, the NRC was paying for my stay at NPS, and I at least owed them loyalty to the extent of being as truthful as I have always been to anyone else.

My official OR advisor at the time was Donald Gaver. After I left the NRC program to join the Physics Dept as a Professor (Chairman Gordon Schacher already knew of the friction with the OR Dept), Peter Purdue was Chairman. In October 1987, The Physics Dept started my required tenure review process. Gaver and Purdue began a stealth program to discredit my work, e.g., sending letters to all NPS Chairmen claiming path integrals were unique to quantum mechanics and that I was trying to pull some kind of mathematical wool over everyone's eyes with my Army-Navy NTC-Janus project. Gaver even called on a former friend, Alan Newell, who could only write that some care had to be taken with small dt limits in the path integral. Mike Sovereign, C3 Chairman, showed me their letters. I never could figure out why none of these people simply did not ask me to explain the math or the physics or the relevance to my applications. I certainly regularly gave lectures on my work.

All this happened in spite of my collection of papers on interdisciplinary projects using path integrals, published in such top-reviewed journals as Physical Review, including my work in neuroscience. My 1983 paper there was the first they accepted dealing with anything human like the real brain. As part of the NTC-Janus project, my team developed the first "movie" of the path-integral evolution of a two-dimensional distribution, i.e., the propagation of tank losses in battle. My NTC-Janus project drew the highest praise in the Pentagon from both Army & Navy Generals & Admirals and Asst Secretaries -- I was offered an SES (Senior Executive Service) position in DC as Asst Director JTC3A, which I turned down in order to complete my NTC-Janus project; a week after his offer, the General who selected me decided he could not wait for me to complete this project. In other words, all this work often passed expert peer review in both academic and military reviews. At one point, according to then Dean Gordon Schacher, some faculty in the OR Dept complained of "people" in Physics doing work typically done in OR -- and of course getting competing DoD funds to such work. The department, many of whom felt that all this kind of research and contracts belonged within their domain (although they had not pursued this work previously). They also did not understand path integrals, and this bothered them very much, to the point of denying that any such math-physics existed! (One "prominent" researcher told me that I must have manufactured the math-physics since it was not in any of his textbooks! I guess I should have been flattered ...)

To my recollection, the Physics Dept voted something like 20-2 for my tenure. They even considered conflicting evidence from students. Most students highly praised my teaching and mentoring them to their degrees. Below I include a reference from one of my students a few years after all this. One student who did not like the fact my classes were hard (though I gave easy grades) and his friends had nothing nice to say. (I caught this USN officer-student plagiarizing verbatim someone else's previous thesis on file at the NPS library, and I had to insist to the NPS Administration that his dishonorable actions at least be noted in his NPS records.) The full group of Dept Chairmen, most of whom I never met, but who were reasonably concerned with the letters they received without my knowledge from Gaver and Purdue, voted about 50%-50% (according to then Dean Gordon Schacher). Dean Marshall at that time was from the OR Dept and he wielded an absolute final vote against tenure.

I filed a formal NPS complaint against Gaver & Purdue, which drew a lot of expected heat. NPS refused to address the issue, even after two faculty were assigned to review the case and reported back that there was evidence of some improper behavior by Gaver and Purdue. I wrote to Congressman Leon Panetta. After reviewing the facts, Panetta wrote to RADM Austin at NPS. The Admiral sent a letter to Panetta (which Panetta forwarded to me) officially declaring NPS records to not reflect that any tenure review ever took place, i.e., "back-dating" records!, and that all mention of such be expunged from their records. Chairman Kai Woehler told me that he was prepared to again start up the tenure review process, but I told him I was not interested. This whole affair had become a bizarre tragicomedy, and was so far from anything overlapping with my sense of truth and integrity, way beyond any relatively mere issues of professionalism, I wanted nothing to do with it. I accepted an appointment from Edgar Vandiver, Director of the CAA (Army Concepts Analysis Agency in MD), to spend my last official year at NPS at CAA in MD.

Scans of the letters from RADM Austin, Congressman Panetta, and Provost Marshall are in https://www.ingber.com/private/nps87.pdf .

Some further context of petty politics and ignorance trumping peer review and common sense is given in https://www.ingber.com/ingber_projects.html#Interdisciplinary-Reviews-of-Applications-of-Mathematical-Physics

Sample Review:

I have worked closely with Dr. Ingber on numerous scientific, military research, technical management projects and issues since 1987. My primary duties at the U.S. Army Materiel Command, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition cause me to frequently interact with some of the nation's top scientists, engineers and researchers in the military, industry and academia. I can say without reservation that Dr. Ingber stands out as one of the very best among them. He is that rare individual whose personal attributes include a superior combination of keen academic and intellectual faculties, excellent management and leadership skills, and a truly pleasant personality.

As a Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey California, Dr. Ingber was highly regarded by the school's faculty, staff and students. His courses were always full, he was in great demand among the faculty as a research collaborator, and he was eagerly pursued by students as a thesis or dissertation advisor.

Dr. Ingber absolutely excels in the planning, coordination, management and execution of complex advanced research projects. He has a highly successful track record for gaining Department of Defense and Industry funding for research, effective leadership and management of large and diverse research teams, and the on-time delivery of sound and worthwhile results. I have personal experience in working with him on highly successful Department of Defense projects whose results have been briefed at very high levels to include Vice Admiral Jerry Tuttle, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director J6; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Program Analysis and Evaluation) Dr. Herbert Puscheck; and Deputy Under Secretary of the Army (Operations Research) Walter Hollis. These projects succeeded, in large part, due to Dr. Ingber's leadership and coordination of the work of large teams of scientists, engineers and students at numerous sites including the Naval Postgraduate School, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the White Sands Missile Range Research, Development and Engineering Center, the U.S. Army National Training Center and various U.S. Army Operations Research Analysis Centers.

Dr. Ingber has a long and distinguished history of supporting the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and the U.S. Army Concepts and Analysis Agency with sponsored and independent research. His courageous and pioneering personal research in mathematics, modeling and operations research will continue to influence military concepts, doctrine and technology well into the next century.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that you will be hard pressed to identify anyone that can better meet the needs expressed in your solicitation than Dr. Lester Ingber. He will be a demanding and effective manager of the department's academic and research endeavors, while being a superb leader, teacher and mentor to the faculty and students. I personally would be happy to work with or for Dr. Ingber in any capacity.


Lester Ingber <[email protected]>
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