A Life Well-Lived in Service to Virginia: Remembering Roy L. Pearson, Chancellor Professor of Business, Emeritus

The Raymond A. Mason School of Business would like to commemorate the life and many achievements of Chancellor Professor of Business, Emeritus Roy L. Pearson. Pearson passed away on August 16, 2020 at the age of 80, but his legacy continues on through the many contributions he made as an educator, researcher, and public servant.

Born in Hong Kong, Pearson and his family later moved to Farmville, Virginia where he earned his undergraduate degree in Business and 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, Louisiana.

Pearson was encouraged to return to Virginia by then-business school dean Charlie Quittmeyer. Pearson considered the offer and joined the Mason School faculty in 1971. For three decades, he taught forecasting to hundreds of full-time MBA students, and that coupled with studies of time series analysis, formed the basis of his research which was published in the top international journals for forecasting.

“He was a wonderful human being and always had a smile on his face,” said Dean Larry Pulley. “Roy lived life to the fullest and was a productive researcher and a vibrant asset to our community right up to the end.”

Pearson was a popular instructor among the business school students and he looked forward to reuniting with them during the annual springtime MBA class reunion dinners. He became Chancellor Professor Emeritus upon his retirement from the Mason School in 2005.

“Among the MBA students, Roy had the reputation of being an exacting professor with a demanding workload and with high standards,” said longtime faculty colleague Jim Haltiner. “But he was someone they really respected and learned from.”

In addition to his work at William & Mary, Pearson was an international leader in forecasting. He 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. But he is perhaps most widely known as the “dean” of economists in Virginia.

Pearson served at the pleasure of eight Virginia governors as a member of the Governor’s Advisory Board of Economists. He also served as the Vice President of the National Business and Economics Society, as President of the Association for University Business and Economic Research, and as President of the Virginia Association of Economists. He was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Association in 1998.

Outside of his work in academia and state government, Pearson was an avid underwater photographer and master scuba diver. It was a pastime he enjoyed during retirement as he traveled the world to explore and capture the beauty of different diving spots. He passed on his love and passion of both to his grandson, Chris, who is currently an undergraduate student at William & Mary.

Pearson also continued to write and consult on projects for his former colleagues through retirement. He especially liked to offer his insights and expertise on collaborations with Professor K. Scott Swan who remembers Pearson as a beloved teacher to everyone he met.

“Roy Pearson represented the best of academics – meticulous research, creative techniques, and insightful conclusions. He was my most valued mentor,” Swan said. “I have never met a more brilliant analyst, accomplished intellectual, and nicer guy. His passion for life [which included] his work, his hobbies, his friends, and especially his family, was inspiring. I already miss him tremendously.”

Pearson is survived by his wife of 60 years, Louise Johns Pearson who has requested that In lieu of flowers or cards, gifts may be sent to the William & Mary Business School Foundation, P.O. Box 1693, Williamsburg, Va. 23187. Please note the "Mason School Annual Fund in memory of Roy Pearson.”