Archives—March 2016

Scholarships Honor Alumna, Provide Opportunity for Women in Business

Born in the small Upper Peninsula community of Wallace, few might have predicted Joyce Caylor Lyth’s success as a business pioneer. She is remembered for her commitment to mentoring others and her steadfast ethical values. Today, recipients of the Joyce Caylor Lyth Memorial Endowed Scholarship are a lot like Joyce was: first-generation female college students and Upper Peninsula natives studying accounting.

Joyce moved to Houghton in 1968 to study accounting at Michigan Tech, where she met her husband and 1973 Tech alumnus David Lyth. After graduation, David went on to earn his master’s from Western Michigan and a PhD from Michigan State, pursuing an education-centered career that focused on student success.

Joyce found her calling in accounting and entrepreneurial endeavors. She served as chief accountant at Stryker, controller of two firms, and
ran her own business.

The impact of their Michigan Tech educations inspired the Lyths to designate a large portion of their estate to their alma mater. Joyce’s diagnosis of brain cancer in 2009 provided a sense of urgency to finalize their giving plans. With David by her side, Joyce fought valiantly for five years before her battle ended in March 2014. Today, David makes scholarship gifts in her memory until the endowment is fully funded through their bequest.

Former SBE dean Gene Klippel partnered with David to create more opportunities for women at Michigan Tech through scholarship growth. The result is the Pioneering Women in Business program. It offers mentoring to women by successful SBE alumnae, along with financial support. David and the School provided initial funding for a Pioneering Women in Business Annual Scholarship. Anyone is welcome to contribute—and crowdfunding may soon become an option.

The Joyce Caylor Lyth Memorial Endowed Scholarship is the first named fund under this umbrella, included as a model for other donors who want to honor a loved one for excellence in business while supporting future businesswomen.

David returned to campus in the fall of 2015. He met with six future pioneering women in business over lunch. “It’s almost as though the scholarship recipients are our daughters. It’s like growing our own family.”

David hopes the new fund engages more donors—including alumni—and reaches more students. “I had a chance to meet one of the scholarship recipients on her graduation day. She thanked me and said, ‘It made a huge difference.’”


Marie and Michael Cleveland

Michael and Marie ClevelandAlumni Michael and Marie Cleveland have been successful in their careers and are stalwart supporters of Michigan Tech. The couple met as students at Tech and have maintained close ties with the University since graduating in 1982, Michael with a BS in Chemical Engineering, Marie with a BS in Business Administration. They live in Northbrook, Illinois, and own a house in Hancock. Their daughter Kerstin has followed their footsteps to Michigan Tech; she is currently a sophomore in chemical engineering.

Both Michael and Marie are grateful for their education and feel part of a standout crowd. Tech graduates, Michael says, are practical, make decisions quickly, know how to troubleshoot, and are able to work with and manage people. “Tech trained me extremely well,” he says. Marie adds, “Tech is simply a fabulous school.” They want to pass along the same opportunity they had to today’s youth.

Michael says that majoring in chemical engineering was “a simple decision,” allowing him to hone his love of chemistry and pursue a discipline that promised high salaries. “The two parts gave me a career.” He sees his degree as a passport to a lifelong adventure—“travel where you want to go, and enjoy what you do.”

Marie came to Tech after attending its Women in Engineering program while in high school. Raised on a farm, she thought Houghton was a big town. She was shy but content in her new environs: “I was on my own. Being independent was the most fantastic part of that whole deal.” Being a woman at Tech, she adds, wasn’t uncomfortable. “I always felt like the guys were my pals. They looked out for me. It was a wonderful time for me.”

Marie has been at FedEx for 24 years. The firm operates in over 210 countries, and she is a worldwide corporate account manager bringing more than $55 million to FedEx each year through the six customers with whom she works. “It’s the best job in the world,” she says. “Tech prepared me better than most women I’ve known by giving me an education on how to bring solutions from various resources. I’m the only female manager in our division. The whole concept of being around guys—they treat you as equal if you treat them as equal.”

Michael has been at UOP, which is headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois, for thirty years. The firm is a unit of Honeywell International, and  Michael is the global business director, accountable for about one-fifth of UOP’s revenues in the petroleumrefining, petrochemical, and gasprocessing industries. These days, he spends much of his time in Asia, a key growing market for UOP.

Michael and Marie help the University with its fundraising initiatives; specifically, they support the School of Business and Economics, the Department of Chemical Engineering, and wherever else there are needs. They also have included a provision for a Michigan Tech endowed scholarship in their estate plans. “We’ve both been blessed,” Michael says. “We have a sound financial footing, and we want to provide a lasting influence, not only by donating money but also by giving our time. That’s an important part, too.” Accordingly, the couple hosts a networking group of  Tech alumni every other month at their home. “Michigan Tech people want to be around other Michigan Tech people,” Marie notes. (If graduates get laid off, she says, they bring their resumes to share at the gathering.) Marie also promotes Tech with recruiting efforts at local high schools and community colleges, and she’s on the committee that is planning this summer’s special alumnae gathering at the 2012 Alumni Reunion. “What a great feeling to be a part of Tech,” Marie says. “It’s amazing how many opportunities there are to give back.” She is also a member of the Presidential Council of Alumnae, and she speaks in various departments on campus.

Why are they so loyal? Michael sums up their attitude: “The Michigan Tech mission is to offer students an education at a reasonable price, and prepare them for success. It’s a great value—a successful model. Somebody supported us when we were students. Now it’s up to us to do the same. We can make a difference.”