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Notice about Roy L. Pearson

Provost Peggy Agouris sent the following message to the campus community Aug. 24, 2020. - Ed.

Dear Colleagues,

Roy L. Pearson, Chancellor Professor of Business Emeritus, passed away on August 16, 2020, at 80 years of age.  He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Louise Johns Pearson.  Their grandson is a current student at W&M.

Born in Hong Kong, Roy later moved with his family to Farmville, Virginia.  He earned his undergraduate degree in Business as well as his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Virginia.  After graduation, he taught at the University of Arkansas and at Centenary College of Shreveport, LA.  He was encouraged to return to Virginia by then business school dean Charlie Quittmeyer and joined the William & Mary School of Business Faculty in 1971.  He was foundational to the business school’s early development and success.  Roy retired from the Mason School Faculty in 2005, becoming Chancellor Professor Emeritus.

Roy's research and teaching focused on forecasting and time series analysis.  He also taught macroeconomics to business graduate students.  In particular, he taught forecasting to our MBA students for three decades.  According to longtime faculty colleague, Jim Haltiner, “Among the MBA students, Roy had the reputation of being an exacting professor with a demanding workload and with high standards, but someone they really respected and learned from.”  Roy was a favorite of our students and both he and our MBA alumni looked forward to having dinner together at our annual MBA Class Reunions in May.  Roy published in the top international journals in forecasting.  He also has served on the Board of Directors of the International Institute of Forecasters (IIF) and as Associate Editor of IIF's Foresight: The International Journal of Applied Forecasting.     

Professor Pearson had a gift for translating academic knowledge into information that was useful to the business, public, and government communities.  From 1984 to 1998 as Director of the W&M's Bureau of Business Research, he regularly published his quarterly two-year-ahead economic forecasts – and also ten-year forecasts – for the state of Virginia and six of its metropolitan areas.  And he continued to prepare national, state, and sub-state forecasts for businesses and government agencies until very recently. 

From a public standpoint, Roy was the “dean” of economists in Virginia.  He served on the Governor's Advisory Board of Economists at the pleasure of eight Virginia governors (Robb, Baliles, Wilder, Allen, Warner, Kaine, McAuliffe, and Northam).  He also has served as Vice President of the National Business and Economics Society and as President of the Virginia Association of Economists (1990-91).  He was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Association in 1998.  In 1994-95, he was President of the Association for University Business and Economic Research.

Roy was an expert at economic impact modeling.  He prepared economic impact studies for government organizations, businesses, and non-profit organizations periodically since 1979.  Recent published reports have been for the Port of Virginia (2008 and 2014), Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (2012, 2013, and 2014), the Virginia Maritime Association (2016), Union Mission Ministries (2016), and in 2019 two reports for the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.  Professor Scott Swan in the Mason School was a co-researcher with Roy in most of these economic impact studies, and I am thankful to Professor Swan for these summary sentiments:  “Roy Pearson represented the best of academics - meticulous research, creative techniques, and insightful conclusions.  He was a beloved teacher to everyone he met and my most valued mentor. I have never met a more brilliant analyst, accomplished intellectual, and nicer guy.  His passion for life – his work, his hobbies, his friends (which included most everyone he met), and especially his family – was inspiring.  I already miss him tremendously.” 

A private family service was held in Farmville, Virginia last Friday.