By Jennifer Erb
2017-06-262017-06-27https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
Ron Pearson came to WVU thinking he would become an Aerospace Engineer. He switched to Industrial Engineering after his first year because of the broader perspective of IE. It became clear to him that in IE you have the opportunity to look at the big picture of a problem for an organization to try to find a solutions or improvement. During his junior year he began to give serious consideration to going to law school after getting his IE degree as did a fellow IE student, Bob Stone. They both decided to do so and graduated in the same 1968 Law class.
After graduation from WVU Law Ron practiced law in Charleston until approached by the State Tax Commissioner of WV to join a new administration that was beginning to bring improved methods to many areas of government. Ron was hired to lead the Local Government and Property Tax Divisions of the State Tax Department, the agency responsible for appraisal and assessment of all real, personal, mineral and public utility property in WV. This position allowed the use of many aspects of his IE and Law training. Ron led the staff in applying professional standards of the income approach and market approach to value to determine property assessments Statewide. Over a three to four year period the financial support for WV County Schools and Local Governments improved 40%.
In 1972 Ron was appointed Commissioner of Finance and Administration by Governor Arch Moore. In this position he was responsible for recommending the budget funding levels for all State agencies and oversight of major State agencies that provided essential services across State government, including automated computer services, transportation services, purchasing, and maintenance of all Capitol buildings. His IE training was of enormous value in building systems to measure performance and work load of State agencies as well as oversight of the staff needed to commence building computer based systems in every major State Department.
In 1975 when the State Treasurer was forced to resign Gov. Moore appointed Ron to fill the 17 month unexpired term of that office. He was 33 years old and was required to act immediately to build a cash management system for the State. The State was failing to track and invest four hundred million dollars in cash flow at a time when overnight interest rates were sometimes over 10%. With assistance provided by WVU accounting and management graduates who had worked with him at Finance and Administration Ron reformed State cash management systems, built an aggressive investment tools and improved earnings on State funds by 60%. At the same time professional methods and managers were hired to manage long term pension and workers compensation funds. These changes earned WV an immediate improvement in its Credit Rating.
After serving as State Treasurer Ron moved to the private sector as Comptroller of Carbon Industries, the largest coal mining concern in Kanawha County where the need the company had for new inventory control and accounting systems put him in every day contact with engineers and accounts in every aspect of the Company. Later as his work at Carbon took him more and more into to legal issues he decided to form a law firm in 1979. The firm specialized in mineral law, administrative law and business reorganization. Often he introduced his clients to IE solutions to assist them improve their business. It was in the course of his law practice that he applied for and was selected to serve as a US Bankruptcy Judge for the So District of WV in 1983.
As a Federal Bankruptcy Judge Ron made extensive use of training and understanding of the merits of using good engineering systems both for his Court that had thousands of decisions to make each year and in oversight of business reorganization cases he supervised. His Court was the first Bankruptcy Court in the Nation to use computerized docketing and required all Chapter 11 Debtors to prepare and file monthly financial statements using a Court required format of disclosure. Hearings were scheduled and heard within three months in all but exceptional circumstances, and decisions rendered promptly thereafter. In addition to his Court work Ron served as the Bankruptcy Judge member of a Judicial Conference Committee that accepted his suggestions to streamline and revise benefits for all Third Branch Employees which, without additional cost to the Federal Judiciary, has saved the thirty thousand plus Judicial Branch employees and all Federal Judges one billion dollars as of 2017.
Ron retired in 2015 but remains professionally active on projects on matters of importance to WV including high speed broadband, challenges in the coal and energy business. He is a long time Chairman of the National Youth Science Foundation that encourages talented students to pursue STEM careers. His career accomplishments serve to show how an IE education can prepare one to find solutions and make necessary innovations in many different positions.
B.S. Industrial Engineering, West Virginia University, 1965
Juris Doctor, West Virginia University College of Law, 1968
Activities at West Virginia University included serving as Summit, Mountain Honor Society and chaired
Mountain Committee to select a sculptor for Mountaineer Statue.
Current and Prior Positions
Chairman, National Youth Science Foundation, Board of Trustees
Judge, United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of West Virginia, 1983-2016
Partner, Law Firm of Cecil, Pearson & Barth, Charleston, West Virginia, 1980-1983
Comptroller, Carbon Industries (Subsidiary of ITT), Charleston, West Virginia, 1977-1979
Treasurer, State of West Virginia, 1975-1977
Commissioner, West Virginia Department of Finance and Administration, 1973-1975
Deputy State Tax Commissioner, 1969-1972
Fellow West Virginia Bar Foundation
Academy of Industrial Engineers – WVU
Retired Member National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges