2007 Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. William Nylin
M.S. 1968, Ph.D. 1972, Computer Science
Bill Nylin, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Conn’s, Inc. (Conn’s) has direct responsible for the Credit Companies; the Service Division; the Distribution, Delivery and Warehousing Division; the Management Information Systems Department including telecommunications; and Risk Management. Bill also acts as the backup for the CEO/Chairman and has been the COO and either President or Executive Vice Chairman for over eleven years. He has been with Conn’s since 1995, but had a prior consulting relationship with the Company for five years. Additionally, he has been on the Board of Directors for Conn’s since 1993. Conn’s is a regional retailer of home appliances and electronics with over $750 million in sales. The Company is publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker symbol CONN.
Prior to his current assignment, Bill was the Deputy Chancellor of the Lamar University System resigning in 1995 to assume the presidency of Conn’s. After coming to Lamar University as an Associate Professor of Computer Science in 1975, he was the first Director of the academic Computer Science Program. He served in numerous director, vice presidential and vice chancellor positions from 1977 until 1995 in both financial and academic affairs. Some of these include the executive vice president of finance and operations at Lamar University, vice chancellor for finance and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Lamar University System. In addition to his administrative experience, he taught at Lamar University, Southern Methodist University, Purdue University, and Florida Atlantic University. Bill also worked in the aerospace industry for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft on jet engine and rocket design and associated performance programs.
Bill currently serves on the board of the Texas State University System Foundation and is Vice President of the Chancellor’s Council of the Texas State University System. He also serves on the Board of the Lamar Institute of Technology Foundation, the President’s Council of Purdue University, and the Lamar Computer Sciences Advisory Council. He has served in leadership positions and on the boards of numerous civic and professional organizations. Some professional assignments included president of the Texas Association for Institutional Research and secretary of the Texas Association of State Colleges and University Business Officers. Additionally, he served on various Texas Coordinating Board formula funding and facility committees. He is the author of twenty five published papers and technical reports.
He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in mathematics from Lamar University. In addition he has both Master of Science and Ph.D. Degrees in computer science from Purdue University. He also is a graduate of the Institute for Educational Management Program at Harvard University.
Bill and his wife Libbie live in Beaumont Texas. They have a married daughter, Elizabeth McNeil, who lives in Dallas, Texas.
From Vacuum Tubes to Plasma TV’s: Five Decades of Change
The talk will focus on five decades of changes in the computer industry and my personal experiences and progression through those decades. It will start with my first introduction to computers on a first generation vacuum tube computer programming in machine code in college. Then I progressed to second generation machines working in the aerospace industry programming in Fortran and assembly languages. During this time, I also began my initial college teaching career at Florida Atlantic University. My next progression was graduate school at Purdue. I will discuss the early days of the Computer Science Department from second to third generation computers, and being there for the invention of new curriculum like the first ever course on computer center management. Next, I will review my academic teaching career at SMU and Lamar University. Then, briefly I will describe a transition from academics to full time university administrative management at multiple levels. The importance of preparing for flexibility and changes in career options is a topic that was important in my life. Finally, I speak to the shift from academia to a full-time businessman during the last twelve years. Now I sell technology such as computers and plasma TV’s as well as utilizing it.