Legacy Gift Honors Friend and Enables More Student Scholarships

1/19/2017 5:16:22 PM Laura Schmitt, CS @ ILLINOIS

Betsy and Ron Cytron
Betsy and Ron Cytron

In 2014, Ron Cytron (MS CS ’82, PhD ’84) lost a dear friend and colleague, a university educator who cared deeply about students. In his will, the friend bequeathed a sizable sum of money, instructing Cytron to endow a computer science undergraduate scholarship at the school of his choice. The only major condition was complete anonymity for the donor.

Wanting to maximize the impact of the gift and properly honor the memory of his friend, Cytron carefully weighed his options before deciding to establish the Ron Cytron Family Computer Science Visionary Scholarship at Illinois.

“The Visionary Scholars fund was a nice lever for combining my friend’s gift with additional funds to have a greater effect than the money on its own,” explained Cytron, who envisions the scholarship aiding students who are underrepresented in computer science. “I’d like to see students who couldn’t otherwise attend Illinois benefit from this scholarship.”

Although he can’t divulge much about his friend, Cytron wants scholarship recipients and alumni to know this: “My friend was a passionate, caring instructor, as well as a role model to faculty for how one should approach teaching. My wife Betsy and I were glad to present this gift to the University of Illinois Computer Science Department, knowing the legacy of my colleague’s pedagogy will live on through the students who benefit from the scholarship fund.”

A professor of computer science at Washington University in St. Louis, Cytron conducts research on automatic program optimization and transformation. While at Illinois, he met his wife Betsy, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education. Cytron worked in Professor David Kuck’s group on the Parafrase project, which explored techniques to translate conventional code into parallel code. “Dave Kuck is a luminary in parallel processing,” Cytron said. “He taught me how to do research, write papers, and frame problems.”

Note: originally published in Click! Magazine, 2015, volume I.