Jack Yurkiewicz’s Biography
I became interested in math while attending Stuyvesant High
School. Based on guidance advice, I pursued an electrical
engineering degree from the City University of New York and
graduated in 1969. I started working at Bell Laboratories, and my
main responsibility was to design circuits for the Picturephone
(video telephone). While at Bell Labs, I attended Columbia
University and received a Master’s in Electrical Engineering
(1971). In 1972, I left Bell Labs and joined American Electric
Power (AEP) Corp. in NYC. My main responsibility was helping
design the safety features of the Cook nuclear power plant, which was being built in Benton
Harbor, Michigan. While at AEP, I attended the Courant Institute, New York University, and I
received a Master of Science in Mathematics in 1974.
After the nuclear plant went on line, I decided I wanted to do more in math. I left AEP in 1975 to
attend Yale University, pursuing a Ph.D. in Administrative Sciences (which is essentially
operations research). I received the Ph.D. in 1979. That same year, I married Shelley and we
settled on Long Island, midway between her job as a speech therapist in Brooklyn and my new
job as an assistant professor in the School of Business at Hofstra University. I taught statistics
and operations research to undergrad and graduate students and liked it very much. I received
Hofstra’s Distinguished Professor award for teaching in my first year of eligibility, 1982.
I joined Lubin in 1985, and have enjoyed the experience tremendously. I like the colleagues and
staff, but most of all, relish the teaching experience. I have never taken released time or a
sabbatical; why leave something I like so much? I received Pace’s Kenan Award for teaching in
I am always looking for new ways to enhance the art of imparting knowledge, reasoning,
problem solving, and communication skills to students. Perhaps rebelling from all the theoretical
courses I saw at Courant and Yale, my approach to teaching geared toward the practical.
Following the ideas of Harry Robert’s (University of Chicago), which he promulgated in annual
meetings of Making Statistics More Effective in Schools of Business (1986), I changed the way I
taught statistics. The traditional statistics coverage became a course in data analysis, with
students using the computer throughout to do statistics. Formulas and “hand calculations” were
deemphasized. I was perhaps the first (1991) to bring a laptop computer (I still have it, a Compaq
LTE286) and projector to the classroom to improve the learning experience. I also made the
operations research courses much more pragmatic, focusing on building a model for the problem
and finding the solution via the computer. If the necessary software was not available, I
developed various Excel templates that will do the job, specifically in forecasting and statistics.
Buoyed by positive feedback received from students and colleagues over the years, I will
continue to look for newer and better ways of teaching mathematics to our students.