University of Michigan Dedication Ceremony

Many of you know that the University of Michigan recently decided to give the Computer Science and Engineering building on campus a new name: the Bob and Betty Beyster Building. Two weeks ago, Betty and I flew out to Michigan to participate in the official dedication of the building, and to enjoy a variety of other activities, both on campus and in the surrounding area.

Our trip began with an airplane ride from Palomar Airport in Carlsbad to Willow Run, a small airport outside of Detroit that was once the home of a manufacturing plant in World War II for the B-24 bombers built by the Ford Motor Company. The dedication ceremony at the University of Michigan was scheduled for Wednesday, April 11th, and before the event we toured the Engineering School, where we met with students, researchers, and faculty and were given briefings on their various research projects, some of which Betty and I have supported through our previous donations to the school. I was especially pleased to see their continued progress in the areas of nanotechnology, molecular physics, and laser spectroscopy. We visited the Ford Nuclear Reactor building and were able to see the now empty reactor pool and many of the remaining facilities. The reactor has been decommissioned for a long time, so the school is converting it to a laser lab, and we’ll be paying for part of that. We had dinners with different professors every night, sometimes in university buildings such as the Michigan Union and sometimes at restaurants in Ann Arbor.

The school made a big event of the dedication ceremony. The event was hosted by the Dean of Engineering, David Munson, and there were many speakers representing U-M, including Mary Sue Coleman, the President of the University, Marios Papaefthymiou, Professor and Chair of Computer Science and Engineering, and Shamik Ganguly, graduate student research assistant in CSE. The highlight of the day for me was when we first entered the lobby of the building and were greeted with a long line of students shaking blue and gold pom-poms and cheering our arrival. There were a lot of congratulations and everyone was shaking hands and so forth. I also won’t forget when they brought out part of the University of Michigan marching band to play the school fight song, Hail to the Victors, for us. That was really something. I was pleased that a number of my SAIC friends were able to join us at the ceremony as well.

I gave a short speech and my daughter Mary Ann also said a few words for the occasion. All in all, it was quite a day.

We visited my boyhood home in Grosse Ile, and this time we had the good fortune to be able to tour the inside of the house. It felt good to be inside my old house again after so many years and it brought back many good memories of my family and growing up. We also visited the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village, and we dropped in on my old SAE fraternity house at the University of Michigan.

Summing up my visit, I feel good about the contributions that Betty and I have made to Michigan over the years. I owe a lot to the University — it’s the only place I went to college.

I have included some photos from the event that I hope you will enjoy.

— Bob