October 1, 2020

Regional Science Pioneer Sidney "Sid" Saltzman, 1926­–2020

by Patti Witten

Saltzman, a former chair and longtime faculty member of the Department of City and Regional Planning, passed away on September 23, in Ithaca, New York.

Professor Emeritus Sid Saltzman in his office, June 2006. William Staffeld/AAP

As an educator and scholar with an active and varied career, "Sid" Saltzman is remembered as a kind and collegial faculty member in CRP at a time when the field of Regional Science was evolving. He earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1946; an M.S.I.E. from Columbia University in 1951; and a Ph.D. in engineering from Cornell in 1963. Before coming to Cornell, Saltzman worked as an engineer, production planner, and operations research and systems analyst in the New York City area where he was born.

After earning his doctorate, Saltzman remained at Cornell. He was an assistant professor of operations research and industrial engineering (1963–68), and assistant director in the Office of Computer Services (1966–68). In 1968, he joined the faculty in the Department of Policy Planning and Regional Analysis as an associate professor. In 1971, he was promoted to full professor, and when two departments — Policy Planning and Regional Analysis, and Urban Planning and Development — merged in 1976 to form the Department of City and Regional Planning, Saltzman chaired the new department until 1983. Among his many awards and achievements, Saltzman was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization science faculty fellow (1974); a National Science Foundation grantee (1967–68, and 1973–75); and a senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research in Washington DC (1980–81). He was named professor emeritus in 2009.

Saltzman was the co-author of two books: The Future of Electrical Energy: A Regional Perspective of an Industry in Transition, with Richard E. Schuler (Praeger, 1986); and Methods of Interregional and Regional Analysis, with Matthew Drennan, Ronald E Miller, Iwan J. Azis, Walter Isard, and Erik Thorbecke (Routledge, 1998).

Saltzman, right, with Visiting Lecturer Iwan J. Azis at the Walter Izsard Memorial, April 29, 2011. The two men co-authored Methods of Interregional and Regional Analysis, with Matthew Drennan, Ronald E Miller, Walter Isard, and Erik Thorbecke. William Staffeld/AAP

For many CRP faculty and alumni, Saltzman was a special and influential person.

Professor Emeritus and regional science alum Kieran Donaghy (M.S. RS '84, Ph.D. '87) recalled that Saltzman was still teaching courses in statistics, applied econometric, systems modeling, and economic impact analysis in 2007 when Donaghy returned to Cornell. "Even after he had retired, Sid continued to teach, to advise students on their dissertations and theses, and to give encouragement and sage counsel to his students as they began their careers in industry and academia," Donaghy said. "He was respected and admired by all faculty members and students as a kind and most generous person."

Associate Professor John Carruthers, who directs the graduate program in Regional Science, credits his understanding of econometrics to Saltzman's chapter in the 1998 edition of Methods of Interregional and Regional Analysis. "The text I teach from today is full of my pencil notes," Carruthers said. "I learned a lot from Sid. I wanted to study Regional Science at Cornell but, in 1997, there was no financial support for the degree, so he encouraged me to pursue my field elsewhere. Shortly after we spoke, he met with my master's advisor at a NARSC meeting. Although I do not know exactly what was discussed, I do know that Sid was interested in my prospects as a student and I believe, in my heart, that conversation is part of why I work here today."

The Sid Saltzman Papers are housed at the Cornell University Library Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

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