Friday, October 26, 2012

A Career to Dream Of . . .

I recall this one-time Baylor professor for reasons obvious to those familiar with my personal story. My mother's maiden name was "Perryman," and the Perrymans tended to be smart people. My mother, in fact, scored at "gifted" level on some IQ test or other back in the 1960s . . . for whatever that's worth. Ray Perryman seems to have scored as an upper outlier on such tests as well:
When he left rural Lindale, Texas, after graduating high school, Ray Perryman was a National Merit Scholar, the first in his family to attend college and the first male to finish high school. By the time his first exam as a Baylor freshman was graded, Perryman had a job offer to become a college professor. Longtime economics department chair Jim Truitt gave Perryman his first test.

"A day or so later Dr. Truitt asked me to come to his office, and I didn't think that was good. I thought he was telling me I needed to go back to East Texas and work in the oil field pipe factory," recalls Perryman. "But he said, 'It'll probably take you four years to graduate, four years to get your Ph.D. At that time, I think I can pay about X number of dollars. What do you think?' Basically he offered me a job after my first economics test. That led me to think I might want to consider a career in economics and math." (Lane Murphy, "Ray Perryman," Baylor Magazine, Fall 2012, page 50)
That sort of thing doesn't happen very often, and I didn't know the story at the time that I was at Baylor, but I remember seeing the Perryman name in the school newspaper about the time that I was getting ready to graduate, around 1978 or 1979 (when he had started teaching at Baylor), and wondering if there was a connection to my mother's family -- and I even considered going to the man's office and introducing myself -- but the chances were slim, I figured, and I let the time slip by . . .

Now, I see that he's even been a nominee for the Nobel Prize in Economics -- what a career!



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