Remembering Joe L. Byers, professor emeritus

March 7, 2016

Joe L. ByersProfessor Emeritus Joe L. Byers, a dedicated teacher and researcher of educational technology, passed away on Feb. 21, 2016 at age 85.

Byers joined the faculty at the Michigan State University College of Education in 1966 as an associate professor, and after more than 30 years of service to the university, retired in 1998.

Prior to his time at MSU, Byers served as a high school social studies teacher in Wisconsin, then joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley.

Throughout his career, he specialized in educational technology, factors that influence the adoption of technology and the impact of technology on learning.

Byers was a founding member of the Institute for Research on Teaching at MSU, and also served as director of the Office of Research Consultation, co-director of the Office of Program Evaluation and director of the Educational Systems Development Graduate Programs, among other duties.

Even after his retirement, his service—and legacy—to the university continued.

“In addition to continuing to serve as an informal mentor for faculty and staff, Joe and his spouse Lucy—a long-time teacher in the Lansing area and one of the first research practitioners in the college—established the Joe L. and Lucy Bates-Byers Endowment for Technology and Curriculum,” said Richard Prawat, chair of the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education (CEPSE). Byers’ faculty position was with CEPSE and he worked closely with Prawat.

The endowment is aimed at tenured or tenure-stream faculty in the college who focus on counseling, educational administration, educational psychology, teacher education or special education. Specifically, the endowment gives faculty members funding to do innovative research and scholarship in the integration of technology and curriculum across the K-12 curriculum.

Past participants for the endowment include Punya Mishra, Matthew Koehler, Mary Juzwik, Cary Roseth and Christine Greenhow.

Byers—who earned two bachelor’s degrees, as well as an M.S. and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin—had many other professional accomplishments and accolades in his career, including receiving the Crystal Apple Award from the College of Education in 2003. The award was presented to outstanding educators who inspire the next generation and beyond. Byers was a fellow in the American Psychological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and belonged to other organizations, including the American Educational Research Association, Phi Delta Kappa and the Michigan Association for Distance Learning.

“Joe was a great human being and dedicated educator,” said Yong Zhao, a former faculty member and colleague of Byers. Zhao is now a professor at the University of Oregon. “Personally, Joe was a generous friend and thoughtful mentor when I started at MSU … His generosity and wisdom will always be cherished.”

Memorial contributions may be made online to the Joe L. and Lucy Bates-Byers Endowment for Technology and Curriculum.