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.’”