Michael Steven Leonard was remembered at Clemson University on Monday as an outstanding professor and stable influence who served two terms as industrial engineering chair in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Leonard, 72, of Macon, Georgia, died Jan. 23, according to an obituary

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Leonard served as department chair from 1990-95, then stepped down to focus on teaching. He was named Outstanding Industrial Engineering Professor in 2000.

Leonard returned to leadership of the department, serving as interim chair from 2000-01 and chair from 2001-03. He left Clemson to become senior associate dean at Mercer University’s School of Engineering.

William Ferrell, the Fluor International Supply Chain Professor at Clemson, remembered Leonard as an important department chair who was passionate about undergraduate students and accreditation.

“His stable leadership put us on the path we are now and is part of the reason our graduate program ranks 17th in the nation among public universities,” Ferrell said. “Mike would do anything for you. He and his wife, Mary, were two of the most decent, respectable people I have ever met. Mike will surely be missed, and my heart goes out to his family and friends.”

Leonard volunteered for many years on accreditation teams throughout the United States and served on the Engineering Accreditation Commission, according to his obituary. He was a Fellow and adjunct training director of the ABET accreditation organization.

Leonard was also a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and received the institute’s 2009 IIE Fred C. Crane Distinguished Service Award.

Anand Gramopadhye, dean of Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, said that Leonard made an impact on his students, the industrial engineering department and the broader academic community.

“We are saddened to hear of Mike’s passing,” said Gramopadhye, who succeeded Leonard as industrial engineering chair before becoming dean. “He helped lay the foundation for the industrial engineering department’s current success, and we are eternally grateful. His legacy will live on through the many students he taught and through his work on accreditation. On behalf of the college, I extend my deepest sympathies to Mary and family.” 

Before arriving at Clemson, Leonard served as professor and department chair at the University of Missouri-Columbia. In his 15 years at Missouri, he received the Outstanding Industrial Engineering Professor Award for 11 consecutive years. 

Leonard began his career at the Georgia Institute of Technology Health Systems Research Center. He received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in industrial engineering from the University of Florida.  

Jeffrey Kharoufeh, the current chair of industrial engineering at Clemson, said that he was grateful for Leonard’s service to the department and the higher education community.

“Dr. Leonard’s accomplishments as an industrial engineer, professor and leader are reflected in the awards and honors he received,” Kharoufeh said. “I offer his family and close friends my deepest, most heartfelt condolences.”

Leonard is survived by his wife, three daughters and three granddaughters. Read his obituary here.