Virginia Tech Employees Are Inventing the Future
Carol Beasley and Ray Myers
Ray Myers is a professor emeritus of statistics. Carol Beasley is a retired member of the U.S. Navy who works for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.
Like many current and former employees, they have made Virginia Tech a better place through hard work and philanthropy.
All together, employees like them have donated more than $45 million since The Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future began in 2003.
Beasley is an administrative assistant who works on the corps' scholarship ceremonies every year. But 2007 was different. One of the scholarships honored Douglas F. Beasley, her father, who had died the year before.
"He thought a lot of the corps and everything it stands for -- and that I worked there -- so I wanted to do something to honor him," Beasley says of her father, who had served in the Marines.
Her gift provided a scholarship to Jeffrey Enniss, who graduated with a civil engineering degree in May 2009. Shortly afterward, he entered the Basic School in Quantico, Va., a first step for newly commissioned officers.
Beasley, who retired from the Navy as a senior enlisted member, says she didn't know much about the corps or Virginia Tech when she started working here but has been inspired by what she's seen.
"It gives you hope for the future, that our future is going to be okay, because we have great leaders coming out of here that are going to make a huge difference," Beasley says.
Myers (chemical engineering '59, M.S. statistics '61, Ph.D. '63) grew up in Charleston, W.Va., where the chemicals industry was prominent. It made sense for him to get a degree in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech. But he graduated during tough economic times.
Myers was wrestling with the decision to attend graduate school when a chance meeting with Boyd Harshbarger changed his life.
"He liked chemical engineers," Myers recalls of the founder of Virginia Tech's statistics department. "He'd had some in his class. He said they had a fellowship in statistics, and my reaction was, 'What is statistics?'"
Harshbarger made space for Myers in his graduate program even though the young man had never taken statistics. His belief in Myers proved justified.
Myers became a renowned expert in response surface methodology, an area of statistics that is widely used to develop new products, including pharmaceuticals. He has written six books that, combined, have gone through 16 editions and been translated into several languages.
After retiring in 1995, Myers returned to teach from 1997 until 2001 and again in 2006 and 2007. He has been the research advisor to more than 40 Ph.D. students but says he still feels compelled to do more for students entering his field.
With that in mind, he recently endowed the Raymond H. Myers Fellowship Award to support graduate students in the area of statistics he helped pioneer. Liaosa Xu is the first recipient.
"By giving back, I have a chance to help give current students a chance like I had," Myers says. "I think everybody should give back, but I felt like I owed a lot."
This article also appears in the winter 2009-10 Virginia Tech Magazine.