John L. Imhoff was born in Baltimore, MD on February 9, 1923 to John Imhoff and Elizabeth Franz Imhoff. He graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1940. He earned a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Duke University in 1945, a M.S. degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1947, and a Ph.D. degree in industrial engineering from Oklahoma State University in 1971. Imhoff pursued additional educational studies, including the National Science Foundation Faculty Fellowship at Stanford University, the National Science Foundation Summer Industrial Dynamics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Nuclear Engineering Institute at the University of California at Berkeley.
Imhoff’s professional experience includes the American Rolling Mill Corporation in Baltimore from 1940 until 1943; U.S. Naval officer and diplomatic courier in the European Theater from 1945 until 1947; and assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota from 1948 until 1951. He served as professor and department head of the Industrial Engineering Department of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville from 1951 until 1980. He retired from full-time teaching in 1990. Since 1980, as a University Professor Emeritus, Imhoff continued to teach part-time on global aspects of engineering and acted as a liaison for the Industrial Engineering Department Outreach Program. While at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, he helped found the Department of Industrial Engineering; consulted extensively for corporations and Arkansas state government; helped to establish and become Director of the University of Arkansas Productivity Center; established one of the country’s first successful Master of Science degrees in Operations Research; participated in the development of the Graduate Institute of Technology program in Little Rock; helped develop the Master of Science in Operations Management program for Air Force bases in Blytheville and Jacksonville, Arkansas, and the Naval Air Station in Memphis, Tennessee; and established and developed University of Arkansas student chapters of the Industrial Engineers and Alpha Pi Mu National Student Honor Society.
Imhoff’s efforts resulted in an exceptional number of University of Arkansas engineering graduates who achieved prominence in industrial, commercial, and educational professional careers. The department he founded played an important role for many years, not only for industrial engineers but also for engineering graduates of all disciplines. After retiring as department head, Imhoff devoted his efforts to full-time teaching and to the development of a University of Arkansas Productivity Center to assist in state economic development activities, developing a cooperative network in the State of Arkansas with the Small Business Administration and conducting research in the United States and Europe on productivity enhancement activities of business and governmental units in all countries.
He was a founding member and officer of the National Productivity Network, a founding member of the Arkansas Center of Technology Transfer, Chair and member of the United States Senate Productivity Award Boards of Senators Pryor and Bumpers, and the founding member of the Arkansas Quality/Productivity Task Force, which is now the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission; and Arkansas productivity initiatives and ideas were later extended nationally by President Bill Clinton.
He was a fellow of both the Institute of Industrial Engineers and the World Academy of Productivity Sciences; a founder of the Industrial Engineering Department’s productivity center, a quality management center created to keep American engineers competitive in a global market; a member of former Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s Governmental Efficiency Commission; a member of both former Governor Bill Clinton’s and former Governor Jim Guy Tucker’s Alternative Fuels Commissions; and a founding member of the Ozark Society.
Imhoff was a recipient of numerous university and community awards, including the University of Arkansas Distinguished Award in Teaching; the Institute of Industrial Engineers Fellow Award; the Engineering College Haliburton Award for Teaching Excellence; numerous Industrial Engineering Department Outstanding Teacher Awards; and the John L. Imhoff Distinguished Chair in Industrial Engineering established by the Industrial Engineering Alumni in 1983. Imhoff was an honorary member of the Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering and recipient of the Duke University College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award. He is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Engineering, American Men of Science, and Who’s Who in Education. Imhoff and his wife, Lois Imhoff, were inducted into the Towers of Old Main, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville society that recognizes lifetime giving to the university.
John L. Imhoff died on Wednesday, March 16, 2005, at the age of 82 years. In a resolution adopted by the House of Representatives of the 85th General Assembly of the State of Arkansas, Imhoff was recognized for his leadership, commitment, hard work, dedication, and years of service to the State of Arkansas and his local community.