On Thursday afternoon, the Engineering Student Council held a surprise reception in honor of Dean Thomas W. Lester’s 22 year tenure—one day before he officially steps down from the position. The party was held in the Raymond Student Commons of the Ralph G. Anderson Building.
Four speakers, Melody Burkhart, Anastasia Kruse, Wes Brooks and Kassy Lum, took the podium to share what Dean Lester meant to them as an educator, leader and friend. Whether humorous anecdotes or tales about Lester’s influence and support, the portrait emerged of a man whose personable demeanor, in Lum’s words, “wiped out fears and formalities.”
Brooks recounted a time when he greeted Dean Lester while walking to Starbucks for coffee. The dean invited Brooks to walk with him and ended up buying his coffee.
“Things like that really showed me your character and that you value people,” Brooks told the dean in his speech.
After the speeches, the ESC unveiled a plaque commemorating Lester, which now hangs alongside the other historic plaques on the south side of the Raymond Student Commons. Lester responded by thanking the ESC and recognizing the support of his wife, Frances, who had joined him for the event. ESC representative Sam Meffert, who emceed the celebration, invited those in attendance to stay for refreshments.
Lester will remain on the faculty as a professor of mechanical engineering. John Y. Walz, head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Virginia Tech, will assume the responsibilities of dean September 1.