In the winter '98 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine, we asked Tech alums "Who influenced you most at Virginia Tech?"
The essays our readers sent in response were thoughtful and sincere. Alums told us some unforgettable stories about how their lives have been affected by someone they met during their years at Tech.
Thanks to Ronald H. Lester for his charming essay about "Dr." D.S. Davis.
Now, as promised, we'd like to share with our readers all the essays we received. Thanks to the authors for giving us permission to do so.
Here are the essays....Happy reminiscinces!
Jay Benson's "My most memorable persons"
Dave Daubert's "The influence of Scott and John"
Carroll F. Hartlove's "Giving back in memory of Hal L. Moses"
Maryann W. Kusterer's "Tribute to an unsung female hero"
Ronald H. Lester's "The 'doctor' wasn't joking this time"
Jim Swope's "'The Munchkin' stands tall"
Lillie C. Thomas's "Was there gefilte fish in the Duck Pond?"
Cheryl King Waybright's "Hooked on facility management"
When I reminisce about Virginia Tech, two names immediately come to mind without the need for even the slightest introspection or deliberation. Both individuals stand out so strikingly in my memories that I feel as if I had known them all of my life, as if they were almost my parents. Perhaps, in a way, they were.
The first person I remember is the late Frank Butler, whose behind-the-scenes role in admissions was directly responsible for my being able to attend Tech at all. I didn't meet Frank in person until after I had matriculated at the university, but I made it a point to look him up and thank him personally for his key role in my career.
I was in the Navy at the time, searching for a way to complete my undergraduate degree. I pleaded my case in writing to a dozen schools throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Frank took time out from a case load of 10,000 applicants per year to call me personally and inquire in what way he might help.
He awarded me a $300 Martin Luther and Clara B. Vaughan scholarship, and that was a sufficient trigger to convince the Navy to allow me to complete my program over the next two years. And THAT event, in turn, allowed me to get a commission in the Navy, a post-graduate education, many rewarding jobs and assignments, and a meaningful life. All because Frank Butler believed that there was a human element in an otherwise almost overwhelming bureaucracy.
The second person whom I'll always associate with Tech is the late George Gorsline, a professor and humanitarian of the computer science department. George was self-appointed mentor to hundreds of students like myself who needed any number of small (and large) pieces of advice in the complex world of growing-up.
George never hesitated to open his mind, his home, and his heart to any of us to help in any way that he could. He was a father figure for those of us who weren't supposed to need fathers anymore. And he was a father, himself, with his son Gary in my class.
George believed that there was value in each and every one of his fledgling students, and he nurtured that value until it became self-worth. He gave me, at no charge whatsoever, with absolutely no expectation of a personal return on his investment, hours and hours of advice about my academic program, about my life goals, about business, about my social challenges, and about being a productive member of society. I feel that, more than any other single person, I owe George the success that I've enjoyed. I will always remember him.
I don't expect to win an award with this short essay. But I am thankful for the opportunity to write it, and to be able to submit it. I would hope that there is room at Tech for each and every entry on this subject that you receive.
Jay Benson, computer science '75
I have written a brief essay in response to the contest I saw mentioned in Virginia Tech Magazine. My years at Virginia Tech were good ones and I am a proud Hokie. I don't know if this is winning material but it's my story. The essay follows:
Life at Virginia Tech for me was lived in many places -- classrooms, the drill field, the gym. But in no one place did I spend more time during the first two years of college life than in Vawter Hall. There I slept, did my homework, and made friends. It is perhaps fitting, then, that the people at Virginia Tech who influenced the course of my life the most were fellow residents of Vawter Hall.
During my freshman and sophomore years, I roomed next to Scott Upton and John Armstrong, two guys from Towson, Md. Like me, they were engineering students, and we became good friends. With many of the same classes, we would often help one another with home work. With a common interest in sports, we would take turns sleeping in cold winter lines outside the coliseum for good seats to basketball games. Add parties, intramurals, traying down the snow covered golf course hill, and the various other things to do.
But if this time was spent with so many from the dorms, what is that makes Scott and John stand out after these many years? And how did their friendship have so much influence on me?
To understand the answer, it will be important to know that I serve today as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in engineering and worked as an engineer for Caterpillar Tractor Company in Peoria, Illinois. But after two years in Peoria I felt a need to continue my schooling and attend seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Although by that time I had lost touch with them, Scott and John may be as responsible for that decision as anyone I have known in my life.
As churchgoers they had an aspect to their lives that I did not have in mine. Each weekend, whether the majority of the time was spent doing homework, going to a football game, or heading to a party, Scott and John always found time to attend the campus chapel. Faithful Roman Catholics, they found Father Jerry who led services in the campus chapel engaging and regular worship was an important part of their lives.
There were others in the dorms who would also attend church regularly. Their faith and witness surely had an impact on me as I slept in on Sunday mornings after staying out late on Saturday night. But again Scott and John were different. Often they would be out late with me on Saturday night. But still they would attend Saturday afternoon services or arise to worship on Sunday mornings. And although they were never pushy they would often invite me to come with them -- a gentle call to join them at chapel each week as they shared with hundreds of students in worship.
Finally one week I agreed to go with them. Surprisingly, it was OK! Father Jerry was unique and engaging, the students that played guitars added music that kept my interest, and the door was open for me to go with them again. It would be about a month between my first and second visits but in spite of all the students he saw each week, Father Jerry remembered my name, and I knew there was something different here.
Over the next year, I began to attend church regularly, eventually joining the Lutheran Church and becoming active in congregational life. It was in the church that I would meet my wife, mature in my faith, and eventually find my life's work. Yet it can all be traced back to Scott and John -- to their friendship, their caring, and their simple invitation in the dorms at Virginia Tech.
Today I serve as an assistant to the bishop in Omaha, Neb. I have the privilege of assisting congregations as they reach out in urban areas to multicultural populations and to people in need. Yet the best example of people reaching out in my life can still be traced back to Scott and John and life in Vawter Hall at Virginia Tech.
I haven't seen either of them since I graduated from Virginia Tech in 1982. In spite of that fact I have often thought of them, mentioned them more than once in sermons, and regularly given thanks for the impact they had on my life, I doubt they know the difference they made. Like so many people in our lives, they made a difference by just being themselves and caring for the people around them. Yet in the flow of everyday life they changed the course of my entire lifetime. Perhaps it is time I looked them up and told them "thank you."
Dave Daubert, agricultural engineering '82
The time was September 1955, and I was entering Virginia Tech (or VPI as it was called then) with a great deal of apprehension. I had just completed serving two years in the U.S. Army, and it had been five years since I had graduated from high school. I was less than confident that I could handle college after so long a time away from the study halls of high school.
I first met Hal Lynwood Moses at an introduction meeting for incoming cooperative engineering students. We happened to sit side by side as the co-op director, Jim Cain, cautioned us not to underestimate the effort required for graduation. His remarks did not help in bolstering my confidence. However, little did I realize then that the quiet-spoken, unassuming person sitting by my side would be so influential in helping me graduate with a mechanical engineering degree.
Hal grew up in Goldston, N.C. After high school, he attended the apprentice school at Newport News Shipyard. There, he graduated at the top of his class and was awarded a full scholarship to Tech. My freshman year started off being tougher mentally than military basic training, and I found myself, at times, totally discouraged. Fortunately for me, Hal and I attended many of the same classes. He became aware of my struggles and early on suggested that we study together. It proved to be one of the best offers I ever received.
I quickly realized that Hal was an extremely intelligent young man. He had an uncanny way of going directly to the crux of a problem and solving it with minimal effort. He would guide me through a problem with unending patience -- never giving me the answer, but only direction. I spent a considerable amount of 1955 and 1956 studying in Hal's dormitory room. In fact, I came to view it as a second classroom where information that I had not fully grasped earlier was clearly and concisely demonstrated.
Without Hal's help and support, my freshman year at Tech might well have been my last. We roomed together for the next four years during which he continued to guide and encourage me. When I received my diploma in 1960, I remarked to Hal that maybe his name should appear on it along with mine. If memory serves me right, he only smiled.
However, this is not the end of the story. After graduating from Tech, Hal attended M.I.T. on a full scholarship. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in 1964, he remained as a post-doctoral fellow and teacher before accepting joint positions as adjuct professor at N.C. State and research engineer at Corning Glass in Raleigh, N.C. In 1969, Hal joined the Tech faculty.
For twenty-five years, he he distinguished himself as a professor of mechanial engineering. During this time, he gained national prominence as an authority in the fields of fluid mechanics and turbomachinery.
Unfortunately, Hal Moses died of cancer on May 8, 1994. I remember him as unselfish in giving his time and energy, compassionate in always seeking the best that an individual has to offer, and ever sensitive to the needs of others. He is sorely missed by many.
I would like to believe, maybe selfishly, that I played a small part in Hal's decision to teach. Although he never mentioned it during our time at Tech, Hal must have realized then that he possessed that innate ability to effectively convey knowledge to others.
Today, I am a member of the Hal. L. Moses Scholarship Fund which has been established as a memorial to his work. We are in the process of raising $25,000 in order to establish an endowment within the Virginia Tech Foundation that will award yearly grants of at least $1,000 to deserving Tech students pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at Tech.
For my part, you might say it's "pay-back time."
Carroll F. Hartlove, mechanical engineering '60
The question "Who at Virginia Tech influenced you most?" has had me in a quandary for days. I had many fine instructors in engineering and industrial engineering back in the late '70s and early '80s. Made lots of friends, still know and keep in touch with a few. And then, of course, I married a Virginia Tech alumnus five years ago!
After some serious weighing, my roommate Jean McGaheran Sofia (electrical engineering '82) gets my vote for "most influential." (Sorry, hubby!!) She is one of the unsung female heroes in America today.
Jean started at Tech in the fall of 1977. Like me, she struggled through her first years as an engineering student. She hadn't had the advantage of AP course work in high school nor a technical background. She was made well aware, early on, that a high percentage of people (particularly females) who began in engineering did not finish. Jean was one of those who ploughed on.
During the course of her college career, Jean's mother passed away. She took some necessary time off, then returned to her studies. I began to see that this was a woman determined to succeed.
In her last two years as an electrical engineering student, she ALWAYS seemed to have study groups at our apartment. This was a fun-loving bunch, even if a tad "nerdy." Jean worked tirelessly with others until everyone grasped a difficult concept. She would be as prepared as anyone else, if not more, for an exam. And then she would struggle with the annoying problem of freezing-up during a test. Many's the time my heart went out to her. She made it through and did quite well, God bless her, and dragged along a few others in the process!!
Jean married a fellow Virginia Tech electrical engineering "nerd" -- I write that with much love, John! -- soon after graduation. They began their life together in Maryland, Jean working for Westinghouse Corp.
By all accounts, Jean has made a fine and conscientious engineer, and continues to work in her place of employ (15+ years). In the high-paced '80s, when many of us were job-hopping (ever searching for better pay, faster advancement, improved work situations), I wondered at her ability to stay in one place. She often faced an unhappy work situation; her division changed hands several times and the employees left behind were expected to do more than one person's job for extended periods. Why did she stay? She's never made that quite clear to me, but I have come to admire her persistence in the face of adversity -- again.
Like many, Jean is a working mother. She was enormously concerned about the quality of her childrens' day care and education. This is a woman who isn't afraid to get involved either -- in their schools, their sports programs, and religious education. Jean is one of those actively participating parents. Folks know they can count on her -- and do.
She gives of her time and energy and finances in her community and her church. She told me last year that it was important to her that her boys know they are growing up more fortunate than many others. They "adopted" a financially poor family at Christmas time. Her sons were involved in choosing and wrapping toys, clothing, and food. Then they had the opportunity to feel -- up close and personal -- the rewards of giving. It wasn't just a donation to the '"eedy," you see. Her family went to visit with the other family.
This is a woman to admire on many levels. If you have the good fortune to know Jean, you'll never receive a Christmas "brag" letter from her. She has no time for such things and is not a boastful person by nature. She's too busy LIVING her life, enjoying her good marriage and growing children, and quietly giving of herself. I consider her a role model for women of all ages.
Maryann W. Kusterer, industrial engineering and operations research '82
It was our first day in class with "Dr." Dale S. Davis. After we reviewed the syllabus, including the text that we were to purchase: Empirical Equations and Nomography by D. S. Davis, the good doctor informed us that the textbook price could be recovered in full if we were ever to publish a nomograph in the journal, Chemical Processing. He was the editor of this feature in the magazine.
I filed that in my memory book. I enjoyed his first lecture and took my wife past his office to read his bulletin board, which he advised us to check often. As we went past his office, my wife, a secretary in the agricultural department, stopped and said "look at this." I looked at a note taped to the door and said, "I can't read it. It is in shorthand."
I had no sooner gotten the words out of my mouth when she flung open the door and walked right in the office. I followed with much apprehension. There was the professor smoking a pipe and working over some important papers. He looked at my wife, jumped up, and said, "Ahhh, I see you read shorthand and you read my message....Enter without knocking and leave the same."
He asked our names as he turned to shake our hands and welcome us to his inner sanctum. Again, my wife startled me. She pointed to a beautiful diploma on the wall and remarked "That is really great." I looked at the diploma, which was all in Latin, and was awed by its grandeur. I had never seen such a beautiful diploma for a doctorate. After some conversation, we left, and the good doctor said, "I hope to see you both again."
As we went to get our bicycle for the long trip up the mountain side and home, I asked my wife, "What did all that Latin stuff say?" She replied, "It was a certificate that said he had graduated from the college of hard knocks." We laughed and continued to pedal our way home. However, the steepness of the grade soon had us off the bike to finish on foot. This was the norm as we approached the summit.
Soon it was test time, and I received my graded paper along with the rest of the students. My grade was not clear but rather a shorthand note. I picked my wife up at the ag department and showed her my test paper. She jumped up and kissed me and said, "You received a 100 percent, and he thinks you are doing great and will keep me informed."
Now I had to perform! I had the same shorthand notes on all my test papers. Midway through the course, my wife and I were returning home after school. We were both tired, yet only halfway up the mountain path to our rented cottage. We disembarked and started walking, pushing our bikes beside us.
Shortly an old car, a Franklin, stopped and offered us a ride up the steep road. I will never forget the hood ornament -- a circle with an elongated "S" in the center. It was a closed integral sign, D "backwards," S, D. It was also the car of "Dr." D. S. Davis. He was wearing a French beret, and on the seat next to him was his walking stick. "Get in, good to see you both together. Just put that bike in the rumble seat," he said. Before we arrived home, he had invited us to his home for a Saturday dinner.
That Saturday we arrived at the professor's house, where he welcomed us and introduced us to a beautiful younger woman. "Ahh," he said, " I would like you to meet my mistress." He introduced us, and after some small talk we had a wonderful meal. After dinner, as we bid goodbye, he remarked, "I am glad you were able to meet my mistress; we have had a wonderful marriage for 35 years. It makes it so much more fun when I call her my mistress."
I graduated and took a position in the research laboratories of General Electric. One of my first projects included constructing a nomograph for centrifical force. I sent the nomograph to Chemical Processing, and, not long after, received a check which was more than the cost of the textbook. Included with the check was a note in shorthand. When I showed it to my wife she said, "You are the first of your class to take me up on my offer. You will go far."
"Dr." Davis gave me the confidence to publish. I published many technical articles, including four books, and became a division vice president for a Fortune 100 company. Although his Ph.D. was not real, "Dr." Davis was the greatest professor on the campus in the 1950s. I will never forget him.
Ronald H. Lester, ceramic engineering '53; M.S.
At Tech, his nickname was "The Munchkin."
If Robert P. "Bob" Hamilton, Ph.D. (physics, '74) was vertically challenged, you'd never know it.
Growing up with my first cousin from Bluefield, W. Va., I observed that Bob always seemed supremely confident, enthusiastic, and full of boundless energy. Even though his growth stopped well short of his pediatrician's prediction, Bob never met a lofty challenge he couldn't overcome.
At 6' 4", I didn't dare evoke the "sh -- t" word in his presence. Not that it would have presented a problem, because Bob was one of the most personable individuals you'd ever want to meet.
He was an outstanding high school student with a tremendous gift -- and appetite -- for math and science, which served us well when, as teenagers, we discovered model rocketry.
Once, he delighted in stuffing the most powerful motor he could find into a tiny rocket. We launched it, and never could find it. Bob was a budding scientist -- always prodding, questioning -- so we chalked up the loss to the perils of experimentation.
In 1973, I was a freshman at the University of Richmond. Bob was in his junior year as a physics major at Tech. UR was a good school, but I was from Richmond and most all of my friends were away at other schools. There were other compelling reasons, but I decided to transfer to Tech largely because Bob was there.
In fact, the only way I could get a room on campus was for Bob, being a resident advisor, to request me as his roommate -- something few rising seniors would be willing to do.
Since Richmond's year finished early, I was able to visit Bob for a weekend to get my first look at the Tech campus. Bob was determined to show me every feature of the university at a blistering pace which, by the way, was his only known throttle setting.
When school started that August, Bob and I converged on Femoyer Hall, room 320. Bob was the resident advisor on the floor and, since I was his roommate and his cousin, everyone assumed I was an RA, too. It was an uncomfortable feeling at first, but the RA staffs in the various upper quad dorms grew quickly into a close-knit family. They sort of adopted me as a deputy.
I think my parents secretly liked my having Bob as a roommate that first year. After all, under his watchful eye, how far astray could I possibly go during my first extended time away from home? To this day, they don't know. For Bob, too, had a streak of mischief.
The fact is, I took the heaviest course loads and made my best grades as an undergraduate during those two quarters. Bob maintained a very serious approach when it came to school; I'd like to think some of it rubbed off on me.
Just how serious he was became clear when Bob, sick one day, asked me to attend a graduate-level quantum mechanics class for him. "All you have to do is copy everything off the board," he told me.
As a history major, I was used to taking down lecture notes -- not numbers -- so jotting down the mile-long equations proved to be a very humbling experience, complicated by the fact that I had absolutely no idea what the professor was talking about.
During the winter quarter, Bob encouraged me to apply for the RA program and, after being accepted at the start of the spring quarter, I moved next door to take charge of the second floor of Thomas Hall. I felt better that Bob would have a room of his own for at least one quarter.
Bob graduated that June and headed out to the University of California at Berkeley to pursue graduate studies in particle physics, receiving his Ph.D. in 1979.
After working in government-sponsored research for several years, Bob's life changed abruptly when he blacked out and woke up lying on the floor of his office. Tests revealed that he had brain cancer.
Following promising initial treatment and a period of remission, he shifted his career focus and moved to Houston, Texas, to become a geophysicist for the oil exploration division of Schlumberger.
In the meantime, Bob researched everything there was to know about the cancer and its treatment. He engaged in deep clinical discussions with his doctors at Berkeley and at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
He was determined to beat the odds.
But the cancer returned. Since the location of the tumor prevented further surgery, Bob agreed to undergo an experimental radiation procedure. Still, the tumor remained. His doctors could do nothing more for him, so he moved to my parents' house in Richmond. It was only a matter of time as the cancer ravaged his brain.
During a visit to Richmond in December of 1986, Bob and I watched on television as a Tech field goal split the uprights, clinching a bowl victory and prompting an exchange of "high-fives." After all he had been through, it was good to see that the Bob I knew was still there.
A few days later, as my family and I left to return home to Florida, Bob and I shook hands at the front door. Somehow, we both knew it would be for the last time.
Less than nine months later, Bob died in a Richmond nursing home at the age of 34, his full promise and potential yet unrealized.
Shortly afterward, his many friends, family members, former professors, and associates established an undergraduate prize in his name in the physics department at Tech.
Now, more than 10 years later, the memory of Bob's limitless enthusiasm for living and learning still inspires me. And, I often wonder what he would be doing if he was alive today.
Launching rockets, I guess. Thanks, Munchkin.
Jim Swope, history '76
I entered Virginia Tech in the fall of 1974, full of excitement and idealism. It was my first extended stay away from home and the beginning of adulthood, or at least that's what my parents told me.
I was always responsible and worked hard at school, but I was eager to start to apply the lessons to "the real world." Among the classes I rushed across Drillfield to attend, was my first lecture in economics, a field I had been interested in for more than four years. It was the major field I had chosen to study and consider for my career.
On that first day, I went to the "Principles of Economics" class in Burruss Hall with over 500 other students, not knowing what to expect. I met my professor, who was also new to Virginia Tech, Dr. Al Mandelstamm. Even today, when I look at the "Principles of Economics" volume on my library shelf, I can still hear Dr. Mandelstamm talk of the principles of supply and demand in terms of gefilte fish balls in the magical land of Michischlecht.
Until winter quarter, when jars of gefilte fish were shown to us, most of us thought it was an imaginary "widget," just as Michischlecht was an allegory for Michigan. Dr. Mandelstamm, who often referred to himself as "The Handsome One" (or, as his shirts were monogrammed, Handsome Al Mandelstamm), taught self assurance, self reliance, and individual responsibility for assignments, class attendance, and examinations. These are lessons that have served me well in the last 20 years.
Little did I know at the time, that while these were important lessons, they would not include the most important "real world" lesson I would receive that year. The application of example to theory in "the real world" situations change my perspective to consider teaching in professional life.
I had always known that I would be in a profession that would require me to explain technical issues. From Dr. Mandelstamm's example, I learned to be a better professional speaker and lecturer by using analogy and example. His use of examples to teach the abstract principles always seemed to me to provide a clear memory of the example, as well as the point of theory he was teaching. Through Dr. Mandelstamm's lectures, I learned about analogy and simplification to terms that are understood, no matter how unusual. These are skills I have used to explain complex situations to many diverse audiences from courts to professional organizations.
I, however, did not appreciate the effect that this teaching by example style really had on me or other students until I attended my 20 year reunion last fall. There, I saw through the eyes of others who had Dr. Mandelstamm that examples made the difference between "lectures" and "teaching." I had learned that examples make the explanation, not the other way around. In fact, if you can remember the example, you probably can remember the theory; but trying to explain a theory alone is more difficult, and your audience will not retain what is being taught.
At the reunion, we were talking about the different professors we had while we were in school. I was the only economics student there, so I guess I was expected to remember Dr. Mandelstamm's lectures; however I was genuinely surprised to see how many other business graduates also remembered his examples and stories as well as the theory they covered, even when Dr. Mandelstamm's class was the only economics class they took.
While everyone remembered how hard his examinations were (and how difficult the grading was), they also remembered that he was fair and provided a good foundation to understand the basic principles of economics. Listening to them, I could see how Dr. Mandelstamm's examples had helped them grasp the theory and apply it to work situations, something I also did because I learned from him.
I think one of the wonderful things about class reunions is that they provide the opportunity for perspective. In order to assess how something has affected your life, you must first stop and take the time to reflect on it. Class reunions provide this time. Without my class reunion, I don't think I would have really known how important and broad the lessons Dr. Mandelstamm taught me were.
What success I have achieved in my consulting practice and business has been due to hard work as well as the clear communication skills I learned from Dr. Mandelstamm. These are skills I use everyday, and now, with this perspective, I have a new respect for Dr. Mandelstamm, my freshman economics teacher.
Lillie C. Thomas, economics '77
It is not often that I enter essays for a contest such as this. I probably wouldn't be if timing had not played its usual role. I was traveling home from the Gator Bowl when I read the call for essays in the back of Virginia Tech Magazine. This prompted me to take a look at my short (relatively speaking) career and why I chose facility management, the practice of coordinating the physical workplace with the people and work of the organization.
Writing something as emotional as describing the person from VPI who most influenced my career is not something I take lightly nor is it something I have ever done. However, I'm sitting on a plane heading home to Atlanta from Houston where I attended the leadership conference of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). It is late Saturday night, about a week since I began thinking about the opportunity that I have to recognize someone who is the reason why I am where I am today in my career and on this plane. Two people, actually.
I would not have attended this leadership conference if I weren't involved in the field of facility management. I would not have considered a job, much less pursued a career in facility management, had I not taken a class my junior year at VPI called "Current and Future Issues in Interior Design" by interior design professor Nancy Canestaro. was one of the few people at that time seeking a doctorate degree in the emerging field of facility management. Kind of like the hook that got Bubba cooked.
And what a hook it was. Although I consider that class to be the most pivotal class I took in my four years at VPI, the truth is, at the time, I hated it. I was adamant that I wanted to be an interior designer. I didn't care about facility management.
Without Dr. Canestaro's introduction into this challenging field, I'd probably be a successful interior designer but not a leader in a profession that is as dynamic as it is diversified. She made us explore the vast array of responsibilities that have come to be associated with the profession. She demonstrated there is more to designing a building and work environment than space planning, furniture specification, colors, and lighting.
In 1986, we learned about people, place, process, and productivity as well as many of the competencies of facility management, seven years before IFMA introduced facility management certification. Certification requires a demonstrated knowledge of and experience in nine specific competency areas before an individual may obtain the Certified Facility Manager designation.
Although no longer at VPI, Dr. Canestaro continues to teach and promote facility management. She recently made a presentation to the East Tennessee Chapter of IFMA in Knoxville on the topic of Feng Shui. Whether the topic is a trend or not, it is a topic U.S. facility professionals are beginning to notice.
I said earlier that there were two people that have been very influential in my career. In addition to Dr. Canestaro, I had the opportunity, right out of college, to work for a VPI alumnus. That first job was in facility management. Then, he was the director of the facility management division at Fairfax County and is now the director of maintenance services for the Fairfax County School System. I would not be in a position poised to take over the helm of IFMA in 2000 if it were not for the encouragement and mentoring of my former boss and friend, Larry Spain, CFM, Ph.D.
Remember, I wanted to be an interior designer. So that is what I went to do at the County of Fairfax as a space planner. Fortunately, Larry saw something in me that I did not. He encouraged me not to limit myself to one dimension of creating productive work environments. With his prompting, I joined IFMA.
And I got involved. Involved not only in absorbing the education and research offerings the association had to offer, but also in the networking and personal growth opportunities available. But his encouragement did not end there, as he recommended a graduate program in facility management started at George Washington University. He advised me to learn all that I could while I was still in a position to do so. So I did, and was the first graduate of that program.
I have since changed jobs and industries a couple of times. Each time, I have taken on additional facility management responsibilities. I attribute my ability to take on additional responsibility and contribute to my employer's bottom line to the education and opportunity provided by Dr. Canestaro and the professional advice and mentoring provided by Larry Spaine. While I may not achieve as much or contribute as much to society as many of my fellow alumni, I am confident that I will have an impact on the profession that, ultimately, will impact all VPI alumni who work in a facility.
Cheryl King Waybright, housing, interior design, and resource management
Home | News | Features | Research | Philanthropy | President's Message | Athletics | Alumni | Classnotes | Editor's Page