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Honoring Your Inspirations

Michael Bryam and Ann Smead

Michael Bryam '74 and his wife, Ann Smead

Michael Byram '74 understands the impact of philanthropy. After his service as CEO of MedLogic Global Corp., he spent six years as president of the University of Colorado Foundation. He realizes the Naval Academy needs private funds to reach its potential.

"The Academy can't fulfill its mission without significant financial support from alumni," he said. "A financial gift can be the difference between excellence and mediocrity."

Byram and his wife, Ann Smead, are true partners in supporting the Academy. "We don't give gifts unless the other is involved. She's just as committed to the Academy as I am. She realizes this is an important part of the future of our country."

Most recently, the two have planned an estate gift via an IRA beneficiary designation. By making the Naval Academy Foundation a beneficiary of one of their IRA accounts, the Foundation will receive a gift from the account after the couple's lifetimes. They made the gift in honor of two people who they believe have had a positive effect on their lives and the Academy.

Michael Bryam and Ann Smead

The late Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale '47, USN (Ret.), was an inspiration to Byram since childhood.

"We want to honor who they are and what they did," said Byram. In this case, the gift honors the late Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale '47, USN (Ret.), and Naval Academy Political Science Professor Emeritus Robert Rau.

Stockdale, best known for the extraordinary bravery he displayed while a prisoner in the Hanoi Hilton for more than seven years, has been an inspiration to Byram since childhood. "He's one of the reasons that, from five years old, I wanted to go to the Naval Academy," said Byram. "He was not immortal, he knew that. He never viewed himself as above anyone else. But I've never met anyone who knew him who didn't have the most profound respect for him."

Rau was one of Byram's most influential Naval Academy professors.

"He had the ability to challenge you to understand more than just the words on a page," said Byram. "He took the time to help a kid who was searching for direction."

Rau encouraged Byram to attend the Thunderbird School of Global Management for graduate school, where Byram became interested in business and studied Chinese.

Robert Rau

Byram honored Naval Academy Political Science Professor Emeritus Robert Rau with his gift. Rau had a lasting impact on Byram's life.

"My path in life changed," said Byram, "All because of one person."

It's in that spirit that Byram said he and Smead continue their support of the Academy.

"We're blessed to be able to give," he added. "But we've received so much more than we've been able to give financially. The greatest opportunity is seeing your gift in action. When you see these midshipmen and the enthusiasm they have for serving our country, there's nothing that can replace that."

Has someone at the Naval Academy inspired you? Consider making a tribute or memorial gift in their honor. It's a meaningful way to support the Naval Academy Foundation while honoring someone important in your life. To learn more, contact Patti Bender at 410-295-4187 or

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