PULLMAN, Wash. — Citing their intent to bolster the state’s economy, Floyd and Judy Huie-Rogers of Renton, recently became the first individual donors in Washington State University’s history to contribute two endowed chair positions to the university.
The Rogers’ most recent gift of $1.5 million establishes a second endowed senior faculty position in computer science, an area the couple asserts has direct impact on the economy of the state of Washington. Floyd Rogers worked for Microsoft from 1982-96, where he designed and programmed many pieces of systems and applications software, including working for five years on Windows NT.
The Rogers established the first endowed chair in computer science in 2000. Their intent was to bolster research in software engineering at WSU. The position is filled by Dr. Anneliese Andrews, recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on quantitative analysis of software and software development practices. She has led research teams working to gain better understanding of the software assessment process and its application to the maintenance of software products.
“The need for computer scientists is pervasive in both the private and public sector,’’ said Floyd Rogers. “Highly educated computer scientists and engineers are needed to problem solve and to strengthen high-tech capabilities in areas ranging from systems security and citizen protection to consumer electronics and online education.
“We are pleased to help maintain the distinction of WSU and its College of Engineering and Architecture as one of the top 50 research institutions in the nation and to provide an important part of the support for the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,” he said.
Formerly software designers in Washington companies, the Rogers intend their gift to help the School of EECS recruit and retain senior faculty and raise the level of excellence in computer science.
“Experience shows that excellent faculty attract other excellent faculty and high- achieving students,’’ said President V. Lane Rawlins. Thomas Fischer, director of the School of EECS, and the donors emphasized that while private support can help raise the level of excellence, it is not meant to replace an adequate level of state support, which is the principal source of faculty salaries and benefits.
“The fulfillment of our four year-old pledge comes at a critical time in the histories of the public universities in the state,’’ said Judy Huie-Rogers. “Having been involved with the WSU Foundation and School of EECS for many years, we are well aware of the funding shortfalls faced by universities and colleges in the state. It is time for the Legislature and people of Washington to do their part and adequately fund our universities. Although economic times are difficult, this is actually the time to redouble efforts and invest in our future and in the students who will be creating and managing it.’’
The newest endowed chair contribution will focus on a sub-discipline within current computer science research, as determined the School of EECS director. The earnings from endowed chairs and professorships provide annual support for graduate student stipends and fellowships, research laboratories and other support expenses.
“With the establishment of the first endowed chair two years ago, we began building our software engineering program into an area of research excellence in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,’’ said Fischer. “This new donation enables us to build other areas of excellence in our computer science graduate degree programs. We are so grateful to Floyd and Judy for their vision and foresight regarding the value of academics to the economic health of the state.’’
Both of Floyd Rogers’ parents and two of his siblings attended WSU. Floyd graduated from Wenatchee High School and enrolled at WSU, earning bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering in 1973 and computer science in 1974. After working for The Boeing Company and a software company in the Seattle area, he worked for Microsoft from 1982-96. Now retired from software work, he manages family real estate investments, volunteers for schools and other charitable organizations, is a “househusband’’ and teaches skiing.
A native of Ellensburg, Judy Huie-Rogers earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from WSU in 1974. She worked for Boeing for eight and one-half years before leaving the workforce to stay home with the couple’s young children. She returned to the software industry in 1985, working for Proprietary Software Systems and Spacelabs Medical. After earning a master’s degree in teaching from Seattle University, she became a public school math teacher.