L. Joseph Thomas

L. Joseph Thomas

  • Professor Emeritus
  • Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean Emeritus

Faculty Expertise

  • Operations Management


Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management


Cornell Directory Entry


Joe Thomas is the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean Emeritus and professor of operations management emeritus at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. He served as dean of the Johnson School for five years and as the interim dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business in 2018. Prior to his roles as dean, Thomas served in several leadership roles, including associate dean for academic affairs, responsible for all faculty-related matters at Johnson; director of the doctoral program; and director of executive education.

Thomas is an award-winning teacher, having twice won the Stephen Russell Distinguished Teaching Award. This award is voted upon by members of the five-year reunion class, given to a faculty member whose teaching and example have continued to influence graduates five years into their post-MBA careers. This teaching and research have focused on topics in operations management and supply-chain management. He has consulted with and led management-education programs for several Fortune 100 companies. Currently he serves on the board and executive committee of two nonprofit organizations, The Food Bank of the Southern Tier and The Racker Centers.

With degrees in chemical engineering (BS, Carnegie Mellon) and operations research (PhD, Yale), and a long history of academic scholarship and publishing, Thomas is one the nation's foremost experts in operations management and manufacturing. He was elected as a fellow of the Production and Operations Management Society in 2009. His work has been widely published on a variety of topics, including redesign of global manufacturing and supply networks, manufacturing strategy, inventory systems, human resources management, and worker motivation. He has also studied models for managing complex production-distribution systems and their effective implementation.

Thomas has written four books and more than 50 articles in journals such as Management Science, Operations Research, Manufacturing and Services Operations Management, and Journal of Manufacturing and Operations Management. He was a departmental editor of Management Science for six years and has served on many editorial boards and committees for professional organizations.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD Yale University
  • BS Carnegie Mellon University