One of Us: The Person Behind the Professional
Linda Casey Caudill
Linda Caudill has been the Managing Director of the Wood-Based Composites Center (WBC) since 1999. She received her B.S. degree in Forestry from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and her M.S. degree from Virginia Tech.
While taking the class Wood Structure and Properties from the late R. Bruce Hoadley at UMASS, she became hooked on wood as a material from the very first class because Dr. Hoadley was an exceptional teacher. Linda told us that “it was Professor Hoadley who encouraged me to get a Master’s Degree in wood science at Virginia Tech. On my arrival to VT, a new professor, Dr. Fred Kamke, took me on as a student and introduced me to the field of wood composites. I learned how an “engineered” wood product was in many ways superior to solid wood as a building material; how the production of wood-based composites was a sophisticated and challenging process.”
After receiving her Master’s degree from Virginia Tech, Linda went to work for the Weyerhaeuser Company, helping them with the start-up of a new, state-of-the-art particleboard plant in North Carolina. She worked for Weyerhaeuser for 13 years, and met her husband, Rick, during this time. Linda felt this “was an exciting, instructive experience; but one that ultimately led her back to Blacksburg to work for Professors Fred Kamke and Chip Frazier, running the Wood-Based Composites Center.”
As a VT alum, Linda was thrilled to return to Blacksburg, to work for the WBC, in 1999 with her husband and their one-year-old son, John. In her role as the WBC Managing Director, she runs the day-to-day operations of a multi-university research center that is funded primarily by the industry. She says that almost all of the work she does is related to creating processes that marry the needs of the industry with academia; and, this work is very meaningful to her. Linda remains passionate about working with academics and industry professionals in service of the wood composites industry.
Faculty members from several different universities conduct research for the WBC, and the center uses their semi-annual conferences to bring the members, faculty, and students together in a scientific forum. The WBC also conducts short courses specifically designed for their industry members. Linda said that one of the most rewarding parts of her work is helping WBC students become successful and find satisfying work in the wood composites, or related, industries.
Linda said “I am personally motivated by REWARDS rather than AWARDS, and I have received MANY rewards during my career. Multiple roles with Weyerhaeuser helped me develop interpersonal, management and leadership skills, often through the school of hard knocks. The greatest reward I’ve received as the WBC’s Managing Director has been working with a broad group of people with diverse needs; students seeking degrees and jobs, industry members focused on business success, and academics motivated by research and knowledge. It is extremely rewarding for me to have set up systems and events that help ALL stakeholders find value in what the WBC has to offer. Working with students over many years, watching them complete degrees, start careers, and move forward in their lives has been most rewarding. Seven former WBC students now sit on the WBC’s Industry Advisory Board, or conduct Center research.”
Linda is fascinated by wood anatomy and structure; and, the use of this sustainable material to produce products that benefit society. However, when asked what her career would be if she were not in her current position, Linda said she would an Ornithologist or a Naturalist. Linda and Rick both love the Blacksburg area and hope to remain here after retirement. In addition to her work, she enjoys gardening, dancing, and practicing Taiji.
Quote from a Colleague:
“Linda Caudill has been an invaluable colleague for 21 years; she is prodigious! The success of the Wood-Based Composites Center has been directly related to her professionalism, her concern and care for the students, and her effectiveness in maintaining our industry support. She has taught me a great deal and I will always be indebted to her; but don’t tell her that!” - Dr. Chip Frazier, Professor and Director of the Wood-Based Composites Center