President's Remarks at Ray Hagglund Memorial Service

The family of Professor Emeritus Ray Hagglund '56 asked President Berkey to speak at the memorial service held on campus on January 21. This is the text of those remarks.

Welcome to this service honoring the life of our dear friend, colleague, and family member, Ray Hagglund.

Raymond R. Hagglund was a son of Worcester, and a son of WPI. Born on April 1, 1934, he attended Worcester’s North High School, graduating in 1952. Although his boyhood home was within sight of the WPI campus, he did not consider enrolling at WPI until encouraged by family and friends, who also assisted him in securing the necessary scholarship support from the Institute.

A member of the famous class of 1956, Ray majored in mechanical engineering, played on the hockey team, was a member of Skull and Eta Kappa Nu honorary societies, the Phi Sigma Kappa Greek fraternity, the Inter-fraternity Council, and numerous other student organizations where he contributed what would become his signature style of leadership and service.

As he completed his B. S. degree at Tech he was encouraged to consider a career in college teaching by his mentor, Professor and alumnus Kenneth Scott ’48. The result was Ray’s appointment as an Instructor in Mechanical Engineering, in which capacity he served until 1959. He had completed an M.S. degree during those years, preparing for further graduate study, which he took up at the University of Illinois, completing his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 1962. Ray then returned to his beloved WPI as an Assistant Professor, moving through the ranks to become a full professor by 1973. He was awarded the Kenneth G. Merriam Professorship in 1977. Ray retired from active service on the faculty in 2004 and became Professor emeritus.

Others will have much more to say about Ray’s achievements and contributions as a member of the faculty, including his important leadership for the development of the WPI Plan. Let me comment briefly, however, on Ray’s recognition, service, and philanthropic support for his revered academic home.

An active member of the alumni Association, Ray served on numerous Reunion committees and was also co-chair of the faculty and staff initiative during the “Campaign for WPI” which concluded in 2004, the year of Ray’s retirement.

The WPI Alumni Association recognized him twice, once with its Taylor Award for Service to WPI, in 2001, and more recently with the Grogan Award for Commitment to the Mission of WPI, in 2009.

Ray and his beloved wife Joyce were generous financial contributors to WPI, as members of the Presidential Founders and of the Alden Society. Their leadership gift to the “Campaign for WPI” resulted in the naming of the Hagglund Room in the Campus Center in Ray’s honor. Without being too specific, let me say that Ray and Joyce’s financial contributions to WPI would easily be seen as Trustee-level giving.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Ray during the peak of his career at WPI, and I can only imagine what a formidable presence he must have been in the classroom, the floor of the faculty meeting, before a court in a product liability case, or as a gracious host to students and colleagues at his home (unless he had enlisted them to rake leaves or replace a roof!)

I did, however, have the wonderful opportunity of coming to know Ray in his emeritus status, observing how regularly he continued to attend alumni and donor recognition events and then, through personal visits to his residence in the Willows, admiring the loving care which he provided to Joyce throughout her final illness, and later, as he himself experienced the decline that awaits us all. Throughout these years his interest in WPI remained strong, his insights keen, and his engagement warm and supportive. I, as so many of you, sensed a real personal friendship, and a continuing deep love for WPI.

One of the funnier anecdotes in that experience was to participate in a conversation between Ray and our Trustee Glenn Yee ’74 on the occasion of their both receiving alumni awards. Glen had introduced himself to “Professor Hagglund,” whereupon Ray looked at Glenn with a somewhat perplexed expression and asked, “Did I have you as a student?”  “No,” replied Glenn, “you flunked me on my competency exam!” whereupon that sly smile appeared on Ray’s face, and we all shared a laugh.

More recently, on learning of Ray’s death, Trustee Steve Halstedt ’68, now a highly successful venture capitalist, wrote the following:

“This is sad. He literally transformed my educational experience at WPI. I had him for Fluid Mechanics first semester sophomore year. He taught me how to use my brain (and of course the calculus, along with the laws of Thermodynamics) to solve very complicated problems. The principles he used could be generalized to all other subjects. My GPA went from a 2.8 freshman year to a 3.8 for the remainder of my undergraduate studies. I will raise a glass to him.”

Important, lasting institutions stand proudly on solid footings and strong foundations, and are created from powerful designs. Professor Ray Hagglund ’56 will forever occupy a place within the core and sole of the remarkable institution that was his beloved academic home.


January 24, 2011

  • Email a Friend
  • Bookmark this Page
  • Share this Page