Frances Van Scoy has accomplished an impressive amount of work during her three decades on the faculty at West Virginia University, wearing various hats as a teacher, researcher and administrator.
But it is her contributions as a mentor, role model and advocate for studentsand particularly for young women interested in science and technology fieldsthat have earned her perhaps the greatest respect from her colleagues and community.
This year at Commencement, WVU will honor Van Scoy, an associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, with one of its highest awards: the Mary Catherine Buswell Award for Outstanding Service to Women.
Van Scoy will receive the award during the honors convocation that will kick off this years Commencement activities at WVU . The convocationset for 7 p.m. Friday, May 15, in the WVU Creative Arts Centerwill be webcast at http://webcast.wvu.edu/ . Visit http://commencement.wvu.edu for a complete schedule of Commencement events.
Buswell, for whom the award is named, taught English at WVU from 1947-78 and was an early proponent of womens rights on campus and throughout the Morgantown community.
As director of the Virtual Environments Laboratory and the Center for Vision Enhancement Technology at WVU , Van Scoy has been a research leader in her department and college, receiving funding from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. She has supervised more than $2 million in externally funded research, investigating topics ranging from vision enhancement to the use of supercomputing technology to support high-resolution imaging.
Throughout her career, Van Scoy has served as a pioneer and role model for women in the science and engineering disciplines at WVU and mentored students at all levels.
Dr. Van Scoys commitment to students at all levelsfrom middle school to graduate school and beyondis remarkable,said Brian Woerner, chair of the Lane Department.She has consistently placed the needs and interests of her students ahead of her own.
Dr. Van Scoy was one of the first professors I met at WVU ,said Margaret Hamill, a doctoral student at WVU in computer science.She spent countless hours reviewing material with me to help me master the subject matter for my Ph.D. qualifying exams. Having the support of a successful woman in the field I wish to pursue is invaluable.
Van Scoy grew up in rural Ohio in the 1950s and60s and was one of only two girls from her high school class to graduate from college. The daughter of a teacher and a librarian, she considered becoming a high school chemistry or English teacher, a NASA scientist or a librarian like her mother.
But it was another early interestthe new field of computer sciencethat would shape the course of her life. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, she majored in math but also took several courses in computer science. She attended the University of Virginia for graduate school, and in 1976, she became the first woman to graduate from that institution with a doctorate in computer science.
After a stint on the faculty of Old Dominion University, Van Scoy joined the WVU faculty in computer science in 1979. Since then, she has been active in teaching and research, mentoring countless undergraduates and graduate students, both those she has taught in classes and those she has supervised in research.
She also served as deputy director of the West Virginia Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research program and coordinator for advanced scientific computing initiatives in the Governors Office of Technology.
For the past several years, she has been active in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program, mentoring undergraduates from WVU and other universities in summer research experiences in computer science.
I have enjoyed many things about working at WVU ,said Van Scoy,especially collaborating with faculty from other disciplines and getting involved in all kinds of interesting investigations that push traditional disciplinary boundaries. But working with studentsgetting to know them, helping them and maintaining relationships with them over timehas been a major satisfaction of my work.
Van Scoy is passionate about the need to interest more girls and women in science, engineering and technology fields. To that end, she has led many outreach efforts, speaking to prospective students and their families and conducting workshops for middle school girls throughout the state.
High-tech fields are where the good jobs are and where theyre going to be,she said.We cannot afford to have only half of our work force well educated for the economy of the future. We must continue to reach out to young women to help them understand that they can make a difference in the world and in their own lives through education.