By: Larry Weatherford | Department Chair, Professor of Decision Science | College of Business
When I was a little boy, I wanted to be a pilot or an astronaut. I guess it should come as no surprise that I ended up conducting research on airlines. I’ve been a professor here at UWyo for the last 24 years and am currently the Dick and Maggie Scarlett Endowed Professor in Decision Sciences. I spent my boyhood on the east coast (Ohio, New York, Florida and Virginia). I received my MBA and PhD from the Darden Graduate Business School at the University of Virginia. I also served in the United States Navy (nuclear submarine division) for five years and was awarded the Navy commendation medal for outstanding performance as an instructor. My military experience made it clear to me that I loved to teach and that is why I pursued my PhD and became a professor. I’m grateful that UW encourages and rewards teaching.
What I do
Currently at UW, I teach an undergraduate course in Revenue Management and MBA classes in Decision Modeling with Spreadsheets. I teach students how to model the many aspects of business decisions in order to determine which decisions will most benefit the business. Spreadsheet modeling allows the user to simulate hundreds of possible combinations of decisions that, in turn, affect the profits of a business. Although I have done much of my research modeling for airlines and hotels, my work with UW students has broadened my modeling to many other interesting business decisions. The students I have met here at UW have been simply amazing—I am always impressed by how hard they work and how kind they are! In my MBA class, I require the students to do a project in lieu of a final exam to demonstrate the use of the quantitative tools I‘ve taught them and how to apply them to a real-world problem of interest to them. One of my favorites was working with an assistant UW basketball coach to optimize the playing time of his players based on offensive and defensive statistics. Several students have modeled personal retirement portfolio decisions, determining optimal allocations to stocks, bonds, and other investments. In addition, students have done projects involving a coal plant upgrade, start-up brewery, soda beverage product distribution, and optimal ranch management. The natural resources of Wyoming lend themselves to numerous fascinating projects. We are so blessed to live in this great state and region.
I have published my research on revenue management in the airline and hotel industry in such journals as Operations Research, Decision Sciences, Naval Research Logistics, Transportation Science, Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, International Journal of Forecasting, and Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly and have presented over 100 papers all around the world to professional organizations such as the Airline Group of International Federation of Operations Research Society (AGIFORS), and the MIT/Boeing PODS consortium.
This PODS consortium is one of my favorite groups—it has the top global airlines from around the world (e.g., American, Delta, United, Lufthansa/Swiss, Air Canada, Emirates, Air France/KLM, Etihad, Qatar) along with faculty from MIT and researchers from Boeing. We meet 3 times per year somewhere around the world and discuss the latest research and simulations to help the airlines make better revenue management decisions. I feel so honored to be invited to be a part of such an amazing group these past 5 years!
I have also consulted on revenue management with such major corporations as Walt Disney, Boeing, United Airlines, American Airlines, Star Alliance, Delta Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, Swiss International Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Air New Zealand, Lan Chile, South African Airways, Unisys Corporation, Choice Hotels and Hilton Hotels, as well as many other smaller corporations. As a result, I have been to all six inhabited continents and 50 countries.
My wife Jenny (who is pursuing her PhD and is a Lecturer in UW’s College of Education) and I have been married for 34 years and we have 7 kids and 8 grandkids, scattered all over the US. One daughter is currently serving a mission in Brazil and another son is in medical school in Boston. Josh is our youngest and is a sophomore in high school. As for my hobbies, I love to jet ski, go 4-wheeling, work on genealogy and travel. One of my goals is to reach the 7th continent, Antarctica, before my mortal life is over.
I have received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of Business four times, and the University’s Ellbogen Meritorious Teaching Award. I was also the inaugural recipient for the College’s Sparky Turner “Raise the Bar” award and the UW President’s Faculty Stewardship Award.