Six things you may not know
about Pamplin's new dean

Robert Sumichrast
  1. He likes to cook.

    “I use a lot of classic French recipes, but I also like to experiment, based on what looks fresh in the grocery store or the farmer’s market. I especially like wine reduction sauces. I like to use the best technology in everything I do, and that includes cooking. My wife Carol Ann bought me some 100 percent copper pots and pans — they just have a thin tin coating on the inside and are the best distribution of heat. They are made by only two companies in the world now. They are really heavy and take a lot of work to maintain, but that is part of the fun.”

  2. He took guitar lessons for four years.

    “Eventually, it became clear that I was much better at playing records than playing an instrument. I have no talent — none at all. My tastes are pretty varied, from current pop and 60’s and 80’s music to classical, especially symphonies and chamber music.”

  3. His wife is a Hokie (MSCI ’89).

    “Carol Ann and I met at Virginia Tech. We knew each other for a couple of years before we started dating. Eventually, we got married in War Memorial Chapel and had our wedding reception at the University Club. We had friends and family there, and I think every person in my department, Management Science, came.”

  4. He is a native of Hobart, Ind.

    “The town felt like a community — it had a lake that was central to the town. It was very shallow and so polluted that you would be crazy to swim in it or eat the fish you caught, but it was pretty at night and still fun for ice skating and boating. Hobart was also known for the quality of its clay. At one time, the brick yard was a major employer. By the time I was growing up, the brick yard had closed, but it was still part of the town psyche. My school mascot was a brick — we were the Hobart Brickies. My family moved to Merrillville, a few miles away, when I went to high school. It was nice to have a new house, but I missed the lake and community.”

  5. He started young.

    “My father passed away last March — he was 96. When I was very young, he used to take me into the steel mill late at night. He had a pass and could drive his car into the plant, so he put a thick phone book under me and had me wear a big coat and hard hat. We never had any trouble getting past the guards at the entry gate. I was fascinated by the cranes pouring molten steel into molds and the glowing ingots being squeezed into useful shapes by massive rollers. I think those experiences helped me enjoy the study of operations management.”

  6. His name is pronounced …

    “When I was at the University of Georgia, my director of development saw that many alumni had trouble pronouncing my name. We were meeting some alumni in August, and it was hot. She told them to remember what the season is called — 'summah' — and that most people don’t want to do much when it is so hot and humid, so they procrastinate. Put those ideas together, and you get my name, Summah-crast.”


Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Magazine Spring 2014

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