Liebman recognized among 150 women for Illinois sesquicentennial

4/16/2018 Taylor Tucker, MechSE Communications

Written by Taylor Tucker, MechSE Communications

Judith Liebman
Judith Liebman
Professor Emeritus Judith Liebman was recently recognized in Illinois’ “150 for 150: Celebrating the Accomplishments of Women.” As part of the sesquicentennial celebration, the university’s Gender Equity Council awarded this honor to 150 women who have made significant contributions to Illinois throughout its history in research, service, teaching, and other areas.

Liebman is one of two recognized MechSE faculty, along with current professor Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler.

“I feel honored to be included in a group of women that have contributed so much to our university,” Liebman said. She was only the second female faculty member to earn tenure in the College of Engineering—and the first to earn tenure in MechSE (then the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department).

While earning her PhD at Johns Hopkins, Liebman worked as an assistant professor of operations research in industrial engineering. She came to Illinois in 1972 with a joint appointment in the Departments of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (now MechSE) and Civil and Environmental Engineering.

When her husband, Jon Liebman, became head of CEE, she took a full-time position in M&IE.

Liebman enjoyed working with graduate students and teaching operations research. This field of study uses mathematical models to improve decision processes, analyzing per criteria such as objectives and constraints. She transitioned to full professor in 1984, by which time she had already won the College of Engineering’s Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence.

She won the award a second time in 1986. That same year, she became Acting Vice Chancellor for Research and Acting Dean of the Graduate College. She continued to serve both positions in non-acting capacity from 1987 until 1992. Upon retiring in 1996, she became a professor emeritus of operations research.

Outside of teaching, Liebman served on the Committee for Engineering Education of the National Academy of Engineering and the Advisory Committee for NSF’s Engineering Directorate.

Looking back on her ambitious career, Liebman had some useful advice for current students. “Find that branch of engineering that interests you most and seek out appropriate courses,” she said. “Look for opportunities to acquire more depth in both the theory and applications—and believe in yourself.”

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This story was published April 16, 2018.