March 24, 2005

Around Campus

Facility Plans, Administrative Changes, and a Vision for 2015 Shared at Town Meeting

At a 90-minute special Town Meeting on March 17, President Dennis Berkey provided an overview of the state of the university, talked about plans for new facilities, shared his vision for how the university might evolve in the decade ahead, and announced some changes to the organization of the university's administration."

"I arrived on July 1 with fresh eyes," Berkey told the faculty and staff members who filled the Odeum in the Campus Center, "and a newcomer only gets one chance to do that. So it was important to me to do as much for WPI as I could in the first year."

To begin the process of moving the university forward, Berkey last fall appointed seven presidential commissions to examine and make recommendations about several critical areas relating to academics, research, faculty workloads, and national rankings. At the Town Meeting, the president noted that the commissions are making good progress and are on track to submit reports by fall.

Berkey also noted that plans are moving forward for several changes to the physical plant. In addition to the Bartlett Center, the admissions and financial aid building now under construction, a new little theatre will be built in the lower level of Sanford Riley Hall over the summer. Funded by the George I. Alden Trust, the new facility will provide a permanent venue for performances and WPI's academic theatre program.

This summer, Berkey said, construction will likely begin on the first new building at Gateway Park, the 11-acre site WPI is developing with the Worcester Business Development Corporation. The building will house the graduate education and research activities of the Biology and Biotechnology, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Chemistry and Biochemistry departments. The undergraduate programs of those departments will remain on the main campus.

Berkey said the firm of Sasaki Associates Inc. has developed a design for a proposed new athletics, recreation, and wellness facility that would be built at the west end of the Quadrangle, perpendicular to Harrington Auditorium. In addition, a 500-space parking garage would be built on the current site of the playing fields; new fields would be located atop the garage. Funds for the building would need to be raised before construction could begin.

During the Town Meeting, President Berkey shared a presentation he made to the Board of Trustees at its recent winter retreat in which he outlined his own vision for what WPI might accomplish between now and 2015, the university's sesquicentennial year. The vision he outlined encompassed possible new academic initiatives and new facilities, anticipated growth or evolution of a number of areas of the university and its core operations, the development of Gateway Park, and a commensurate increase in the university's stature and reputation.

In particular, the president said he believes WPI is poised to claim leadership roles in several important areas "by building on core strengths in engineering, science, and management, together with an exceptional tradition as an academic community of strong values and high ethical standards." He said he sees WPI's reputation in 2015 centered on

To set the stage for pursuing a new vision, WPI must solve its current budget challenges, Berkey said. The university experienced a $3 million deficit in 2003-04 and has closed the gap with the 2004-05 budget, which is nearly in balance. In 2005-06 and beyond, Berkey said, WPI must commit itself to balancing its budget, funding salary increases for faculty and staff (the 2005-06 includes a 2.5 percent merit pool with additional consideration for exceptional circumstances), and avoiding further layoffs. To do this, the university will have to control costs, increase revenues, and use attrition to regulate payroll expenses.

Berkey said among the key strategies WPI will use to build its strengths in the future are improving marketing, increasing fund-raising, and strengthening financial management. Toward those ends, he announced, WPI will establish the Office of Marketing and Communications and recruit a new vice president to oversee it; Amy Dean has been named assistant vice president for communications and will serve as interim head of the new office.

The development and alumni relations operations will make up the new Advancement Division; Steve Hebert, with the new title of university vice president, will join the division to oversee major gifts; he will also have input into Gateway Park and other special projects. To replace Hebert, a new vice president for finance and operations will be recruited.

Be Sure to Spring Ahead

Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, April 3. Don't forget to turn your clocks ahead one hour.

Best Season Yet for Men's Basketball

For WPI's men's basketball team, the 2004-05 season was a season of milestones: its 24 wins broke the previous record of 20 wins; it clinched the New England Men's and Women's Athletic Conference regular season title, earning the No. 1 seed in the NEWMAC postseason tournament; it won the tournament with a down-to-the-wire victory in Harrington Auditorium.

The tournament win earned WPI a first-round bye in the NCAA Division III tournament and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in New Jersey. It was the first time in 20 years that a men's team from WPI reached the NCAAs. A loss to York College in the Sweet Sixteen couldn't dampen the thrill of an exciting season.

Health and Benefits Fair Set for April 5

Human Resources will host WPI's fourth annual Health and Benefits Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, in the Campus Center Odeum. More than 25 vendors, including representatives from WPI's health and retirement plans, local gyms, oil companies, and local banks, will participate.

IFC Sponsors Blood Drive

WPI's Interfraternity Council (IFC) and the American Red Cross will sponsor a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, in the Campus Center, Odeum. Positive ID is required. Donors may call 800-448-3543 to make an appointment, or sign up in the Campus Center. Walk-ins are welcome.


Umberto Mosco Joins WPI Faculty

World-renowned mathematician Umberto Mosco joined WPI this winter as Harold J. Gay Professor in mathematical sciences. Mosco holds two degrees from the University of Rome, one in mathematics and one in physics, and the “Libera Docenza” in mathematical methods in physics in Italy. Mosco has been at the forefront of mathematical research in analysis for the past 40 years, focusing his studies on partial differential equations, convex analysis, optimal control, and variational calculus. The Mosco Convergence, which he introduced, is now included in most textbooks on variational calculus. The two-year professorship, established in 1971, honors Harold Gay, who taught mathematics at WPI from 1919 to 1947.

Faculty Promotions and Tenure Awards

At the March 17 Town Meeting, Carol Simpson, provost and senior vice president, announced the promotion and/or tenure of the following members of the faculty, effective July 1:


Promoted and Tenured


Moved From Staff to Faculty Status

Publications and Presentations

Chemical Engineering

Eisenman, H.C., J. D. Nosanchuk, B.W. Webber, R.J. Emerson**, T.A. Camesano, and A. Casadevall, "The Architecture of Cell Wall-associated Melanin in the Human Pathogenic Fungus Cryptococcus Neoformans", in Biochemistry, 2005, 44, 3683-3693.

Pouliot, J.M.*, Walton, I.*, Nolen-Parkhouse*, Abu-Lail, L.I.**, and T.A. Camesano, "Adhesion of Aureobasidium Pullulans is Controlled by Uronic Acid-based Polymers and Pullulan," in Biomacromolecules, 2005, 6, 1122-1131.

Fishtik, I, C. A. Callaghan, and R. Datta, "Reaction Route Graphs. III. Non-Minimal Kinetic Mechanisms," in Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2005, 109, 2710-2722.

Fishtik, I., C. A. Callaghan, J. D. Fehribach, R. Datta, "A Reaction Route Graph Analysis of the Electrochemical Hydrogen Oxidation and Evolution Reactions," in Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, 2005, 576, 57-63.

I. Fishtik, "Thermodynamic Stability of Chemical Species in Multiple Reaction Systems," in Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2005, 109, 3851-3859.

*Former WPI undergraduate student;
**WPI graduate student

Fire Protection Engineering

Zalosh, Robert, "New Developments in Explosion Protection," invited paper presented at the Fire and Emergency Services Asia Symposium, Singapore, Feb. 21-23.

Humanities and Arts

Shannon, Thomas, "The Convergence of Medical Advances, Consumer Expectations, and Resource Allocation: Navigating the Perfect Storm," keynote address, St John Hospital, Detroit, Mich., March 9.

Shannon, Thomas, "Genetics and the PostHuman," paper presented at the Conference on Aging, Genetic Technology and the Future, Boston College, March 15.

Recent Grants

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Chemical Engineering

Mathematical Sciences

Mechanical Engineering


Academic Affairs

*Co-principal investigator

Total February grants and contracts: $842,146.

Be Sure to Spring Ahead

Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, April 3. Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead one hour.

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Last modified: February 20, 2008 15:31:03