Payton, Sawyers receive extension service awards

May 15, 2007 - Fay Cobb Payton, associate professor of information systems, and Roby Sawyers, professor of accounting, are the College of Management’s 2007 recipients of the NC State Outstanding Extension Service Award. The award recognizes their service to the community, above and beyond their roles as teachers.

Fay Cobb Payton

Photo of Fay Cobb Payton and student, Ernest SwindellFor Fay Payton, mentoring is a natural extension of her work as professor and researcher in information systems. She particularly encourages women and minority students to consider and pursue studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

In some cases, she invites them to join her in her research. One of those students, Ernest Swindell, has been working with her since his freshman year at NC State. The electrical engineering undergraduate had stopped at her office to see if she knew of any student employment opportunities.

Payton’s background as an industrial and systems engineer provided a natural connection, and he eventually became her research assistant. This spring, he co-presented with her at a research conference on the digital divide at Georgia Tech. Financial support from Red Hat helped cover expenses for his participation at the conference.

Swindell said he connected with the research, as he also experienced poor access to technology while growing up.

Payton also assists with the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, and NC State program that encourages women to pursue studies and careers in science and engineering.

Beyond her focus on engineering and technology, Payton also makes time for management students. “When students are willing to show an interest, I’ll work with them,” she said. And in many cases, the students stay in touch long after they’ve left campus and launched their careers.

Payton’s interest in mentoring extends beyond NC State. Since 1996, she has been involved with the national Ph.D. Project, a mentoring program for doctoral students in business studies. She has served as an advisor, a national chairperson and in other roles, focusing her efforts especially on students in information systems. When asked how many students she has mentored over the years, Payton says, “I can’t count the numbers.”

Roby Sawyers

Photo of Roby Sawyers, right, with Michael Walden, center, and Karl Smith, Ph.D. candidate.Roby Sawyers, professor of accounting (right), is a frequent ‘go to’ person for reporters working on tax-related stories, both complex and simple.

He has also been working with a state commission that is creating news of its own - the State and Local Fiscal Modernization Study Commission. When establishing the commission in 2006, the General Assembly sought to draw on the expertise of the state’s higher education community by largely assigning staffing responsibilities to the University of North Carolina system.

Sawyers, who was selected as the principal staff member, organized a panel of presenters to help commission members understand the enormous complexity that underlies the state and local intergovernmental structure. Included in that panel are consumer economist Michael Walden, with NC State's Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics, and Karl Smith, doctoral candidate in the college's Graduate Economics Program.

The commission is currently making preliminary recommendations to the General Assembly, and has been extended to May 1, 2008.

Sawyers' role with the commission is part of his work as the GlaxoSmithKline faculty fellow with the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI), a “think and do” tank affiliated with NC State University. The IEI sponsors the annual Emerging Issues Forum on topics of vital interest to North Carolina.