Dennis Berkey Inaugurated as Worcester Polytechnic Institute President
Senator Kennedy Delivered Keynote Speech, and Among Three Who Received WPI Presidential Medals
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/May 21, 2005
Contact: WPI Media Relations, +1-508-831-5706
Dennis D. Berkey was inaugurated as 15th president of WPI on May 20.
WORCESTER, Mass. - May 21, 2005 - Dennis D. Berkey was formally inaugurated as Worcester Polytechnic Institute's 15th president and chief executive officer yesterday during an outdoor ceremony on the campus Quadrangle. The historic occasion was witnessed by more than 700 alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff, government officials, and representatives from business, not-for-profit, and civic communities. The nearly 90-minute long program featured a keynote speech by U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the presentation of WPI Presidential Medals to Senator Kennedy, Congressman James P. McGovern, and WPI Dean Emeritus of Undergraduate Studies William R. Grogan, and Berkey's inaugural address.
The sounds of bells from the Alden Memorial tower at 2:30 p.m. was the cue to begin the program, and a colorful academic procession, led by ceremonial marshal and WPI provost Carol Simpson and the Worcester Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums. It included WPI department heads, faculty and delegates from nearly 50 colleges, universities, and learned societies, all garbed in their distinctive academic regalia.
After the singing of the National Anthem and welcoming remarks, Senator Kennedy delivered his keynote speech. He began with praise for Berkey. "Dennis is my kind of president. His impressive 30-year career as a professor and administrator promoting excellence makes him an ideal choice to lead WPI, with its strong tradition as a university that continues to raise the bar on excellence year after year."
He went on to stress the importance of technological education in today's complex world. "The future is ours to build, and WPI is building it. You're looking beyond the narrow horizon of today to the needs of tomorrow. WPI is a modern university built on New England tradition, and your graduates are helping all of us build a brighter future."
The centerpiece of the ceremony was the formal investiture of Berkey as WPI president. This was led by F. William Marshall, chairman of WPI's Board of Trustees, who was assisted by Robert E. Kinicki, secretary of the WPI faculty and associate professor of computer science, and Kent J. Rissmiller, chairman of the WPI Committee on Governance and associate professor of social science and policy studies. Berkey was presented with the symbols of WPI presidential authority, including the university's original charter and the Presidential Medallion.
As his first formal acts following his installation, Berkey presented WPI Presidential Medals, the university's highest honor, to Senator Kennedy, Congressman McGovern, and Dean Grogan.
In honoring Senator Kennedy, Berkey presented him with a medal inscribed "Education Champion," and noted that "as an advocate for science and technology education, Senator Kennedy has no peer. He has consistently raised his voice in support of university research and education, and has fought to keep Massachusetts a leader in the biosciences and technology fields."
In recognizing McGovern, Berkey bestowed him with a medal inscribed simply with his name and the word "Statesman," while noting "from the problem of hunger in the Worcester region to jobs and the economy, to education and health care, and on to foreign policy, our Congressman distinguishes himself and our delegation at the highest level."
Grogan's medal was inscribed with his name and the simple phrase, "WPI Visionary," and Berkey honored him "as a man who provided inspired leadership to WPI for decades and who led the development of the WPI Plan and our Global Studies Program."
During his inaugural address, Berkey reflected on the past and looked forward to the future. He recalled WPI's history and the experiences of previous presidents. "WPI has transformed from a small 19th century technological institute designed to educate the sons of Worcester, into a 21st century model for innovative higher education open to women and men of all faiths, races, and economic backgrounds, and from all states and many nations around the world. We will continue to ask ourselves hard questions about whether we are doing all we can to make the WPI experience the best it can possibly be for our students and faculty."
In looking at the role of higher education in the coming years, he stressed the importance of leadership and learning, and how WPI is well positioned to impart these crucial skills on its talented student body. "I believe that WPI today has a greater opportunity to make a difference in our nation, and in the world, than ever before. This university stands squarely astride the major forces that are changing the world with its project-enriched education centered on science and technology, enhanced and made complete by the ways and works of the arts and humanities, and expanded in perspective by the Global Program experiences. From its very beginning WPI has prepared its students well for, as John Boynton said, 'the affairs of life.' While that originally may have meant the developing industrial life of central Massachusetts, we have for decades prepared our students for lives of achievement, leadership, and fulfillment, not just in Massachusetts but in the world."
He concluded by recalling an address titled "Who if not I, When if not now?" that he delivered to his own graduating high school class in Ohio. Echoing Senator Kennedy's recent observation that "Now is the time, and Massachusetts is the place," Berkey said, "Today, I have the honor and pleasure of joining with Senator Kennedy in saying, the 'when' is now, the 'where' is here, and the 'who' is all of us."
For more information about the inauguration of Dennis Berkey, including video and photos from the ceremony, the text of the speeches delivered by Senator Kennedy and President Berkey, and bios of Berkey and the new WPI Presidential Medal recipients, visit the Inauguration Web site.