Lyth Donates to School of Business and Economics

David Lyth sits with recipients of the Joyce Caylor Lyth Endowed Scholarship and the  Pioneering Women in Business Scholarships at a luncheon in August.
David Lyth sits with recipients of the Joyce Caylor Lyth Endowed Scholarship and the Pioneering Women in Business Scholarships at a luncheon in August.

A Michigan Technological University alumnus has provided a gift of $100,000 to the School of Business and Economics to offer financial assistance to women and to honor the memory of his wife.

David Lyth calls his late wife, Joyce Caylor Lyth, “a pioneer,” and he hopes a scholarship at Tech’s SBE will encourage future generations of Upper Peninsula women to follow in her courageous footsteps.

Lyth, a professor at Western Michigan University, met his future wife while they were both undergraduates at Michigan Tech in the late 1960s. 

Joyce Lyth

Joyce Lyth, a native of the small Menominee County community of Wallace in the central UP, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009 and bravely fought the disease for nearly five years, passing away in March of last year.

“She was a first-generation college student and came to Tech to study accounting at a time when most women went to college to study either teaching or nursing,” He said.

To honor her memory and preserve her legacy, the Joyce Caylor Lyth Memorial Endowed Scholarship is open to female first-generation college students from the Upper Peninsula studying accounting at Tech’s SBE. It is the first scholarship program of its kind in the business school in that it is for women and was set up by a woman.

“Throughout her career, throughout her life, Joyce was always focused on what was ethical and what was right,” David Lyth said. The couple laid the framework for the scholarship while she was still alive, according to Lyth.

He says referring to his wife as a “pioneer” is not an exaggeration.

“She made her own way in the world, working her way through college.” Lyth says it was rare for UP women to attend college in the 1960s, and as a result, there were no scholarships available to her. Working a variety of jobs, she self-financed her education. Her ground breaking didn’t end with college, in many ways it began.

“She pioneered women moving off campus in 1970, and went on to become chief accountant at Stryker” he said.

Joyce was the controller of two firms in the 80s. 90s and 00s, and on two occasions, she was a business owner.

“She started her own accounting services business in Houghton in 1979 and another in Kalamazoo in 2005 and retired due to her illness in 2009.

Role Model and Mentor

Throughout her business life, Joyce was a role model.

“She very effectively mentored all around her, even after recovery from cancer treatment,” Lyth says.

“This scholarship is a continuation of her legacy. She was about mentoring. She was always looking to help others develop their capabilities and grow professionally,” he says.

The scholarship is designed to have a mentoring component with one year’s recipients mentoring the next.

Pioneering Women in Business Scholarships

In addition, Lyth, in collaboration with the School of Business and Economics, has helped establish the Pioneering Women in Business Scholarship. The program provides four $1,000-a-year scholarships for four years.

“Joyce and I realized the value and importance of an education, especially at Michigan Tech. We want to give others the same opportunities Joyce had,” Lyth said. “Our aim is to support those who may not be able to come to Tech without some help.”

Lyth is hoping the initiative will inspire support from alumni and friends of the SBE for the Pioneering Women in Business Scholarship program, the Joyce Caylor Lyth Scholarship, or by establishing their own endowed scholarship fund. David has also included a significant provision for Joyce's endowed scholarship in his estate plan, to ensure their wish to provide opportunities for young women like Joyce continues far into the future

 Gene Klippel, SBE dean, says the Lyth Scholarships provide excellent opportunities for financial support to female students enrolled or enrolling in the School.

“Making a college education more affordable to our students is a continuous goal of the School,” Klippel said. “Thus, the Joyce Caylor Lyth Memorial Endowed Scholarships and the Dr. David Lyth-supported Pioneering Women in Business Scholarships are indeed most welcomed and greatly appreciated."

Klippel hopes the philanthropy of the Lyths will be inspirational. “It is our sincere hope others will see the value such scholarship support provides for our students and be willing to explore with us how they, too, can make a difference in the life of a student.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.