Dan Carson (right), a dynamic electric power industry executive who has also served on countless state, community, and economic development boards, as well as a stint as a chair of a United Way campaign, is the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus for Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. He will be honored May 14.
A Pulaski native, Carson’s father was an electrical engineering graduate of Virginia Tech, and a member of the corps of cadets. Carson worked summers at Appalachian Power and when he was ready to graduate in 1970, Appalachian Power recruited him to its Roanoke office. He started as one of the designers of the groundbreaking 765,000-volt transmission lines, “analogous to the interstate highway system,” he says.
He earned his master of business administration in 1977 and the opportunity to work as an administrative assistant to the president of Appalachian Power in Roanoke. He earned his third degree at MIT and it opened the doors to just about any management position with American Electric Power.
He returned first to Roanoke as an assistant manager for six months, and then moved to Abingdon, to become a division manager. In 1992, Joseph Vipperman, a Virginia Tech electrical engineering graduate and now a retired vice president of American Electric Power, appointed Carson to a vice-president position. Carson dedicated more than a fourth of his career with the power company to refinement of the regulatory framework for the electric utility industry.
In 1996, his accomplishments led him to the position of American Electric Power President for Virginia and Tennessee, and he later returned to a similar position with Appalachian Power, based back in Roanoke, when a regional operating structure was reinstituted across the AEP system.
In 2010, at the age of 62, he retired from his Roanoke office. His charitable work has been and remains very important to him, serving as the 2009 annual campaign chair for the United Way of Roanoke Valley, and currently in a leadership role for the March of Dimes efforts. In 2010, he successfully proposed and brought to fruition a $1 million gift from AEP to Virginia Tech in the name of his friend and colleague, Vipperman.
Carson is also a chairman of the board of directors of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, past chairman and director emeritus of the Western Virginia Foundation for the Arts and Sciences, and formerly served as board chair for the Roanoke Valley Business Council, the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Advisory Board, and Roanoke Country Club.
He served in leadership capacities for the Virginia Manufacturers Association, the Virginia College Fund, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, the Virginia Foundation for Research and Economic Education (Virginia FREE), in addition to a number of Roanoke-area organizations.
He is a member of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s Committee of 100, a former member of the College Advisory Board, and in 2007 was inducted as a member of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni of the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech.