Chief Transformation Officer Amy Cohn, Ph.D., wins Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award

April 18, 2023  //  FOUND IN: Accolades and Milestones

Amy Cohn, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of industrial and operations engineering (IOE) at the University of Michigan (U-M) has won one of three Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year awards from the Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU). Cohn also serves as the Michigan Medicine chief transformation officer.

This award recognizes the outstanding contributions and dedication exhibited by the faculty from Michigan’s 15 public universities who had a significant impact on undergraduate learning through activities such as instruction, research, experiential learning, and mentoring.

“I want to thank the 3,000 or so students who have given me the opportunity to not only teach but to learn from them,” said Cohn during her acceptance speech. “I still learn something new from them each and every year! More importantly, they bravely share their experiences, their viewpoints, their fears, and their aspirations. I enjoy every minute that I spend with them, feel a real sense of loss when they leave, and a sense of joy when they return to share their new accomplishments with me.”

Cohn is highly respected among her students, winning the student-nominated U-M IOE Professor of the Year award nine times. She values an environment that allows her to create trust and connections with her students. Each year, she accompanies students to academic conferences, recognizing them as co-authors and co-presenters, and helps them develop relationships that will assist them in their post-graduate pursuits.

“Dr. Amy Cohn is an award-winning educator who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to undergraduate education throughout her career,” said Dr. Daniel J. Hurley, CEO of the MASU. “Her students are fortunate to learn from an esteemed professor who takes a deep interest in their academic, personal, and professional success.”

During COVID, Cohn played an essential role in orchestrating testing and vaccinations on the U-M campus and at Michigan Medicine. She engaged students in tackling many of the time-critical problems faced during the pandemic, providing them with invaluable hands-on learning opportunities and the ability to have a direct impact during a challenging time.

Cohn is also the faculty director for the Center for Healthcare and Patient Safety (CHEPS) at the U-M. CHEPS was established in 2011 and brings together interdisciplinary teams of students, faculty, and health care professionals to address real-life operational problems in health care delivery. Students learn to adapt systems-based engineering tools and techniques to address the specific needs of various clinical collaborators. At CHEPS, she has created over 300 experiential learning opportunities for engineering students to integrate them within the world of health care, furthering the scope of engineering as a field. 

“By creating learning opportunities at the intersection of engineering and health care, Dr. Cohn’s research-informed teaching prepares students to be successful in a far wider array of career opportunities than they ever thought possible,” said Dr. Laurie McCauley, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the U-M. “Her efforts are deserving of the Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award.”

In addition to Cohn’s appointments at the U-M IOE, CHEPS and Michigan Medicine, she also serves as a professor of health management and policy in the U-M School of Public Health. She holds an A.B. in applied mathematics, magna cum laude, from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in operations research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her primary research interests are in applications of combinatorial optimization, particularly to healthcare and aviation, and to the challenges of optimization problems with multiple objective criteria.

Amy Cohn was honored for her work on Friday, April 14 during the Distinguished Professor of the Year awards ceremony in Lansing. She was named alongside Oakland University’s Anna Spagnuolo and Saginaw Valley State University’s Arthur L. Martin.