Jim Guest, president and chief executive officer of the internationally renowned Consumer Reports, will be the inaugural speaker for the Alfred and Shirley Wampler Caudill Lecture in Consumer Affairs. 

Guest’s talk is entitled “How to be a Smart Consumer and Engaged Activist in the 21st Century,” and will be held on Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Graduate Life Center auditorium at Virginia Tech. This event is free and open to the public.

Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports is the world's premier consumer testing, research, publishing, and advocacy organization with more than eight million subscribers to its products and services. ConsumerReports.org is the largest subscription-based publication website, Consumer Reports is one of the top-10-circulation magazines in the U.S., and the organization's advocacy arm, Consumers Union, has close to 1 million online activists who advance its role as a national powerhouse in promoting pro-consumer policies and market reform at both the federal and the state levels. Guest’s lecture will cover some of the 76-year history of the non-profit organization as well as what it takes to be savvy in today’s world. There will be ample time for questions.

“Our inaugural lecture is sure to be interesting and beneficial to all consumers,” said Julia Beamish, professor and head of the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “Everyone has a role in today’s marketplace,” added Irene Leech, associate professor of consumer studies in that department. “Mr. Guest will undoubtedly share the tools that the Consumers Union has created to motivate and focus concerned citizens.”

Guest assumed his current position in February 2001 after a long career in public service, including 21 years as chair of the Board of Directors of Consumers Report. During his tenure, Consumer Reports has significantly increased its reach and impact and successfully launched new initiatives such as ConsumerReportsHealth.org and the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.  In 2009, Guest oversaw Consumer Reports' acquisition of The Consumerist, an edgy consumer-empowerment and social media site with approximately 3 million visitors.

Guest has headed several nonprofit advocacy organizations and was the founding executive director of the American Pain Foundation, a national consumer information, education, and advocacy organization for pain prevention and management. He has also worked as a legislative assistant to Sen. Ted Kennedy and as Vermont’s banking and insurance commissioner, secretary of state, and secretary of development and community affairs. Guest is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and he completed a Woodrow Wilson fellowship in economics at MIT.

Donald W. Caudill, a 1993 doctoral graduate in consumer studies at Virginia Tech, has generously donated funds to endow this annual lecture to honor his parents, Alfred and Shirley Wampler Caudill. “I am so appreciative to my parents for their support of my own education,” said Caudill. “This lecture both honors them and enables others to learn about my passion – the consumer/marketing interfaces.”

Caudill is currently a professor of marketing at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. He has worked at various universities across the south, teaching management, leadership, entrepreneurship, and e-business. He began his teaching career as an instructor of marketing at Virginia Tech. In addition to 31 years of teaching at the university level, Caudill has worked in sales, retail management, advertising, and marketing research. He is also editor of the Journal of Ethics & Entrepreneurship. 

A Virginia native, Caudill has an undergraduate degree from Berea College, an MBA from Morehead State University, a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Memphis, and a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech. 

Free parking for the Graduate Life Center is available after 5 p.m. in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street, or the Architecture Annex Lot also on Otey Street.



Share this story