Alumni
Discuss This Article

WPI: The Next Generation

By Wendy Wolfson, Photo by Patrick O’Connor

From left, Peter Kotilainen ’74G, ’77 PhD, Aaron Kotilainen ’07, Helen Kotilainen ’75; Ashley Towner ’07, Carolyn Towner ’83, Wally Towner ’83, Laurel Doherty ’07, Deborah Johnson ’81, Paul Doherty ’80

Carolyn and Wally Towner, both members of the Class of 1983, met on their first day of school in the fall of 1979. “I was making a room-by-room shopping list for others on the floor for an upcoming ‘fluids lab,’” says Wally. “I asked Carolyn if she or her roommate had any requirements for the ‘lab’ and her first words to me were ‘so you think you’re pretty hot stuff, huh?’” Wally didn’t understand how he had provoked such a response from a stranger and began a political campaign “to win the election and set the record straight. I guess she changed her mind.” Wally and Carolyn were married the year after they graduated from WPI.

This fall, the latest Towner generation enrolled at WPI. Ashley Towner ’07, the eldest of three Towner offspring, is currently enrolled in civil engineering, “but I’m fairly sure I’m going to change my major to biotechnology,” she says. “I had almost always known that I wanted to come to WPI. I loved the atmosphere. As I got older I realized that WPI had a lot to offer me, that I could get a great education as well as be in an atmosphere I already knew and liked.”

“I had almost always known that I wanted to come to WPI. I loved the atmosphere. As I got older I realized that WPI had a lot to offer me, that I could get a great education as well as be in an atmosphere I already knew and liked.” —Ashley Towner ’07

“Carolyn and I are excited that Ashley is attending our alma mater, but we didn’t lobby her. WPI sold itself,” Wally says. “In our house college is not an option and it has to be a technical school. That’s where you learn how to break down problems and come up with solutions in a technical environment. However, if our kids are rock stars or professional athletes, the ‘technical college is not an option rule’ can be waived!”

The Towners were one of dozens of families who attended the Alumni Association Legacy Lunch August 22. The annual back-to-school rite is a tradition for newly-admitted students whose parents or grandparents, (or this year, in the case of Elizabeth McCoskrie ’07, both her great- and great-great grandfathers) attended the university. For alumni it’s a chance to reminisce about their college years with their kids and honor their family’s long-standing connections to WPI. The new students also gain an appreciation for WPI’s 135-year history and what it means to be a part of that.

Ralph Smith ’43 with grandson, Wray Smith ’07

Throughout the first week of the new academic year members of the Alumni Association and Tech Old Timers helped welcome all students to campus, some by lending a hand carrying boxes to dorm rooms. Association president-elect Morgan Rees ’61 and trustee Steve Rubin ’74 spoke to incoming students, reminding them to balance learning and fun, and to use the association as a resource.

The welcoming events capped a summer-long series of barbeques across southern New England in Fairfield County and Hartford, Conn., and Smithfield, Rhode Island, that reached out to new students. “It was a chance for newly-admitted students to talk to recent grads and to one another,” says Beth Howland, director of Alumni Relations, “so they had some information about WPI and also familiar faces and names once they arrived on campus.” The mixers were so well-received, says Howland, her office plans to expand the program next year and add events in Framingham, Mass., and southern New Hampshire.

transformations@wpi.edu
Maintained by: webmaster@wpi.edu
Last modified: Aug 31, 2004, 17:07 EDT
[WPI] [Alumni] [Home]