Providing the K-State dream

Lynn and Liz Lin give to honor those who helped him succeed

With less than $100 in his pocket and after flying two days on a cargo plane, Lynn Lin arrived in the United States in 1961 en route to pursue his Ph.D. in agricultural economics. He soon discovered that his plans to earn a degree in agricultural economics at a Texas university would change because Lynn had already completed the available coursework while at National Chung-Hsing University (NCHU) in Taiwan.  Lynn was only able to take a handful of classes before changing his degree program to statistics. He was undaunted. This was not his first hardship, and it would become part of the story of his success and generosity toward K-State.

Lynn was born in 1936 as war approached Taiwan. His orphaned father began working in the salt mines at 11 and he eventually became a self-taught engineer. His mother was from a farming family. By the time Lynn entered the fourth grade, having missed two years of education due to war, he was well acquainted with loss, famine and the dream of education. “I was a good student, but I never had enough to eat,” said Lynn.

Despite the odds, Lynn earned his master’s degree in agricultural economics at NCHU, where he met Liz, his future wife. In 1960, she travelled to Kansas State University to pursue her Ph.D. as he finished his master’s program. While at K-State, Liz boarded with Arliss Honstead, who, with her best friend Ruth Wells, a nutritionist in what is now the College of Health and Human Sciences, treated Liz like a daughter.

When Lynn and Liz married in 1962, Lynn accepted a research assistantship at K-State in the statistics department. The kindness the Lins experienced from their “adopted American parents” Arliss and Ruth, and his familiarity with hardship compelled Lynn to eventually create the Honstead-Wells Scholarship in the College of Health and Humans Sciences so other K-State students could achieve their American dreams.

Lynn earned a master’s degree in statistics from K-State in 1963 before moving in 1964 to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Liz worked in the Federal Reserve. Though he began his Ph.D. in statistics soon after the move, a series of unfortunate events delayed his finishing until more than a decade later. It was during this time working as a corporate chief statistician at Pillsbury that he created the Booz Allen Sales Estimation System, or BASES, a groundbreaking statistical tool using consumer purchase behavior to determine whether a new product concept would have a successful launch in the market. In 1998, BASES was sold to The Nielsen Corporation and is still used extensively worldwide and among Fortune 500 companies. Lynn’s educational and professional journey prompted him to consider ways he could help students find success in his field. He found that opportunity in K-State’s data analytics program, which trains students to effectively collect, analyze and apply large data sets to help guide decision-making on issues commonly faced in business and industry.

“Dr. Lin is the first donor to give to the data analyst program. In less than three years, the program went from zero to 67 students,“ said Dr. Chwen Sheu, associate dean for academic programs and Paul Edgerley Chair in Business Administration. “Dr. Lin’s gift is critical to sustaining the growth and maintaining the quality of the program. It will also help some international K-State students realize their American dreams.”

“I realized my American dream. I know how poor children can grow and earn a good education and contribute to society,” Lynn said. “I appreciate the people who helped us along the way. We hope to pay them back. I don’t know the people who will benefit from our gift, but if I can help one Kansas student go to college, I will feel happy about that.”

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Jared Schiel

Jared Schiel Executive Development Officer- Business Administration


Darin Russell

Darin Russell Executive Development Officer – Business Administration