$1.5 Million Gift to Address Demand for Computer Science Expertise

PULLMAN, Wash. — A $1.5 million gift from a husband and wife, both Washington State University alumni, will help WSU meet the current corporate demand for graduates with advanced research experience in computer science.

Floyd and Judy Huie Rogers of Renton, formerly software designers for Boeing, Microsoft and other enterprises, are hoping the new WSU Huie-Rogers Endowed Chair in Computer Science will spur research in this area and put Washington State at the forefront in the evolution of software engineering studies.

The new endowed chair is the 100th endowed faculty position at the university. They plan on establishing another endowed professorship in 2002. Both positions will be matched by state funds.

“We are delighted at the timeliness and foresight this gift represents,’’ said Tom Fischer, director of the WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “The gift will help us build our graduate degree programs in computer science, and establish software engineering as an area of research excellence in the school. We are truly grateful to Floyd and Judy for providing this gift.’’

A software professional for the past 20 years, Floyd Rogers notes that while computers have become faster and cheaper, software development still uses the same kinds of tools and has the same kinds of problems as 25 years ago. He hopes the gift will attract people to the field who can help solve some of those problems.

Both of Floyd Rogers’ parents and two siblings attended WSU. He 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 and a software company in the Seattle area, he was with Microsoft from 1982-96. Now retired from software work, he volunteers in schools, 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 math teacher in the Mercer Island School District.

“We owe a lot to our education and want to give something back,’’ said Floyd Rogers. “The thing we learned most of all at WSU is the ability to continue our education. The process of education as a whole is important to us.’’

The state Legislature established the distinguished professorship matching grant program in 1985 as a way to enable universities to attract and retain outstanding professors. Annual payouts from the endowments provide support for salary supplements, research assistance and staff support.

“The Rogers’ generosity exemplifies the tremendous growth that can come from a partnership between higher education and private support. Their commitment to WSU establishes a vision of excellence for computer science that will shape lives and raise the bar for teaching, research and innovation in this field,’’ said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins.

The Rogers will be among 10 donors who will be honored as Laureates — donors who have given more than $1 million to the university — at the WSU Foundation’s annual meeting, Sept. 21-23 in Pullman.