Roger N. Perry, Jr. '45
Roger Perry, former director of public relations at WPI, died Jan. 9 after a short illness. Perry served as an engineer in the Merchant Marine during World War II, returning to WPI to earn his mechanical engineering degree in 1947.
After graduation, he joined Norton Company, where he made a career change from engineering to public relations. In 1964, he became WPI's first full-time public relations director, a post he held until his retirement in 1988. Milestones of those years included his work on WPI's centennial year in 1965 (it was he who suggested to President Harry Storke that Mildred Tymeson be hired to write the centennial history, Two Towers); his promotion of WPI's participation in the 1971 Clean Air Car Race (which won him a Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America), and his media relations work on the WPI Plan.
During the Campaign for Excellence, he became campaign communications director and assistant to the vice president; he was the first editor of Quest, which reported on major gifts to WPI, and served part-time as its senior writer for many years. His own gift to "support the preservation and dissemination of WPI's history and heritage" was covered in Quest in 1993.
Perry founded the Worcester County Public Relations Association, which named its highest honor for him. He was active in St. Francis Episcopal Church in Holden and had recently written the church history. He was a longtime alumnus advisor to Theta Chi fraternity at WPI, a member of Skull, and a member and officer of Tech Old Timers.
Perry leave his wife, Pauline, four children (including Tina Buckley '78 and Dick Perry '79), and seven grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to the WPI Memorial Fund, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609, or St. Francis Episcopal Church, 70 Highland Street, Holden, MA 01520.
William Shipman, WPI Plan Author
C. William "Bill" Shipman, former professor of chemical engineering and dean of graduate studies at WPI, died on Nov. 24, 2005, in Prescott Harbor, Maine, after a brief illness. At WPI, Shipman is best remembered as the chair of the Faculty Planning Committee that drafted the WPI Plan, the university's innovative approach to undergraduate education.
A native of New Jersey, Shipman earned a BS, MS, and PhD in chemical engineering at MIT after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He taught at the University of Delaware and at the MIT Fuel Labs before joining the WPI faculty in 1958. He was known for his award-winning research on combustion and jet propulsion and for his novel approach to teaching chemical engineering by having students solve open-ended problems.
His suggestion in the late 1960s that WPI needed to reform its academic program caught the attention of President Harry P. Storke, who was concerned that the university's curriculum had become too rigid. Without fundamental change, he believed, the school's very future seemed in doubt. In 1968, he appointed a planning committee of young faculty members and instructed them to consider all feasible possibilities for WPI's educational future. He asked Shipman to serve as chair.
Over the course of two years, the committee engaged in a remarkable process of discussion, research, debate, and creative thinking. It produced three reports, the last of which outlined the basis for the program we know today as the WPI Plan. Revolutionary in every sense of the word, the Plan was approved by the faculty in May 1970.
By that time, Storke had retired and WPI's 11th president, George Hazzard, had taken office. In a 1996 article in the WPI Journal, Shipman expressed admiration for Storke and his motivation for setting in motion such a fundamental change. "Storke's hope all along had been to make WPI worthy of being in the private sector," Shipman said. "That's why we have a private sector-to innovate."
After the Plan's passage, Shipman became dean of graduate studies at WPI. In 1974, he accepted a position as director of research and development at the Carbon Black division of the Cabot Corporation in Alpharetta, Ga. He retired in 1986, and he and his wife, Louise, became permanent residents of Prospect Harbor, where they had summered for many years. He is survived by Louise, his wife of 59 years, three children, and two grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to Downeast Horizons, 1200 Route 3, Bar Harbor, ME 04609; St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church, State Street, Ellsworth, ME 04605; or the charity of one's choice.