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Obituary: Prof Ray Paul, 1947–2022

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Tributes paid to an inclusive and caring leader who always had a twinkle in his eye and offered wise and practical counsel.

Professor Ray J Paul, a pioneer in Operational Research and Information Systems, died on 29 March 2022, aged 74.

Professor Ray Paul was born in East London in 1947. He studied Mathematics at Undergraduate and Master’s level before completing his PhD in Operational Research, all at the University of Hull. Ray spent 21 years of his academic career at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) before joining Brunel University London in 1992 as Professor of Simulation Modelling, becoming Head of the Department of Computer Science in 1993. On his appointment, Ray set about re-visioning the department, developing its strength in Information Systems, and forging a nurturing, collegiate culture, which has endured.

An accomplished scholar with a talent for uniting people to solve complex problems, Ray was widely published, enjoyed significant grant successes, and graduated 55 PhD students, whom he treated as his extended family. The PhDs that he supervised were largely into two areas – Simulation and Information Systems – reflecting the fields in which he worked during his career.

Ray’s work in simulation, specifically Discrete Event Simulation, ranged across application areas, from manufacturing to healthcare. In addition to his personal research, Ray was an active member of the Operational Research Society and was Guiding Editor for the society’s fourth journal, the Journal of Simulation. Ray’s contribution to simulation is reflected in his ACM SIGSIM Distinguished Contributions Award (2008) and the conferment of the title of Companion in Operational Research by The Operational Research Society in 2009, which recognised his teaching and research in simulation modelling, the generous investment of his energy, creativity, and intellect into developing young scholars, and his challenging of conventional views and approaches.

While at the LSE, Ray became interested in Information Systems and, through a range of activities, was instrumental in establishing and strengthening it as an area of scholarship in Europe. He co-founded the interdisciplinary European Journal of Information Systems (EJIS) in 1991, and was its editor for 12 years (six of them with Professor Bob O’Keefe), helped found the European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), and was a strident supporter of the United Kingdom Academy for Information Systems (UKAIS), serving as its President from 2012–13.

Ray held multiple Dean level roles at Brunel University London between 1999 and 2003 before retiring after 37 years, as Professor Emeritus. He later accepted a Visiting Professorship at the London School of Economics and an Honorary Professorship in Community Medicine at Hong Kong University. Ray was always very public on the reasons for his retirement, which followed his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, recounted in his autobiography Living with Parkinson's Disease: Shake Rattle and Roll. Ray had a passion for dancing, through which he found some release from the effects of his condition, and a love of table football and West Ham United.

Ray is survived by his wife Jasna and his two children, Benjamin and Ruth.

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