(June 29, 2018) The ISE Department announced Mr. B. Fielding Rolston as the 2018 recipient of the Marvin H. Agee Distinguished Alumni Award. He was honored at the ISE Academy of Distinguished Alumni banquet at the Inn at Virginia Tech in April 2018. He attended the ceremony with his wife Joyce, as well as his two children and their spouses.
The following was Mr. Rolston's biography that was presented during the ceremony.
B. Fielding Rolston was born in Harrisonburg, VA in 1941 and grew up on a 200-acre beef cattle and sheep farm. During his time studying industrial engineering at Virginia Tech, he served as president of Alpha Pi Mu, the industrial engineering honor society, and as vice president of the student chapter of what was then called the American Institute of Industrial Engineers (AIIE). He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering in 1964. Based on his early leadership experiences in college, the Western Virginia Chapter of AIIE selected him as the Outstanding Virginia Tech Industrial Engineering Student for the class of 1964.
After graduation, he joined Tennessee Eastman as an industrial engineer working on manufacturing process improvement. Not long after starting at Eastman, he also had to fulfill his military obligation, which he did as an ROTC commissioned officer at the Pentagon, where he put his IE skills to work for the U.S. Army. During this time, he also earned his master’s degree in public administration from American University. After returning to Eastman Chemical in Kingsport, TN, he held a series of positions with increasing amounts of responsibility and exposure to many aspects of Eastman’s business operations. Rolston was instrumental in Eastman’s efforts to recruit and hire significant numbers of industrial engineers to help improve business processes, quality, and customer service. As a result of these efforts, Eastman Chemical was awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1993, a highly prestigious and coveted performance excellence award.
Rolston went on to serve as Vice President of Supply and Distribution and Vice President for Human Resources, Health, Safety, and Environment. He retired from Eastman Chemical Company in 2003 with more than 38 years of service.
His professional achievements have been recognized by Virginia Tech, with induction into the ISE Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 1993 and induction into the College of Engineering Academy of Excellence in 2008. His achievements have also received national recognition; he was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Management Award from the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers in 2001. Rolston has provided significant service to his community as well. Since 1998, he has chaired the board of the Eastman Credit Union, which has $4 billion in assets. He has also chaired the Tennessee State Board of Education, the Emory and Henry College Board of Trustees, and the Wellmont Health System. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Barter Theatre and for the National Assessment Governing Board, which is responsible for the “Nation's Report Card.”
Fielding has also served the ISE Department in multiple ways. He has endowed a fellowship and served on the ISE Advisory Board. Fielding and his wife, Joyce, live in the Kingsport area, along with their two children, Clay and Tina, and their six grandchildren.