I Give

2000-2001

WPI Announces Commencement Speaker, Honorees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/April 9, 2001
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass.- Henry B. Schacht, the first chairman and CEO of Lucent Technologies Inc., will deliver the address at Worcester Polytechnic Institute's 133rd Commencement on Saturday, May 19.

In addition to Schacht, the following individuals will be awarded honorary doctorates for their contributions to society, higher education or industry: Valentin P. Gapontsev, founder and CEO, IPG Photonics Corp., Sturbridge, Mass., a leading global manufacturer of high-power amplifiers and lasers; Trustee Emeritus Wilfrid J. Houde '59, president, W.J. Houde & Associates, Saratoga, Calif., a small- business consulting firm; and Jeffrey Wigand, a scientist and educator who is the subject of the 1999 movie The Insider, an examination of how Wigand, former chief scientist for Brown & Williamson, exposed big tobacco's lies. Wigand is the founder of Smoke-Free Kids, Inc. in Charleston, S.C.

Spun off from AT&T in 1996, Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent is the world's largest manufacturer of telephone equipment. Schacht held the top spots at Lucent from 1995 to 1997, during its launch and its first year as an independent company. He served as a consultant to the company from February 1998 to February 1999, when he joined Warburg Pincus as managing director and senior advisor. He was chairman of Avaya, a Lucent spin-off, until October 2000, when he returned to the parent company.

A graduate of Yale University, Schacht began his business career in 1956 at American Brake Shoe Co. He served in the U.S. Navy, then earned an MBA at Harvard University, and in 1962 joined the Irwin Management Co. in Columbus, Ind. Two years later he accepted the post of vice president for finance at Cummins Engine Co. He held key positions with Cummins International in domestic operations before being named president and elected to the board of directors in 1969; he became chairman and CEO in 1973. He retired in 1995; later that year he was named chairman and CEO-designate at Lucent.

Schacht serves on the boards of numerous corporations, including Alcoa, Avaya, Johnson & Johnson and The New York Times Company. He was a longtime member of the board of directors of CBS and AT&T, a former chairman of the Ford Foundation's Board of Trustees, and a member of the Yale Corporation. He served on the President's Commission for National Agenda for the '80s and on the Yale School of Organization and Management's Advisory Board. He was a founder of the Health Effects Institute and a director of Clean Sites Inc., a board member of the National Executive Service Corps., and chairman of The Associates, Harvard Business School. He received honorary degrees from Yale, Trinity College, DePauw University, Denison University and Bank Street College. Schacht and his wife, Nancy, live in New York City.

After receiving his B.S.E.E., Trustee Emeritus Wilfrid J. Houde '59 earned an MBA at the Wharton School. During his distinguished career he has held executive positions at Altos Computer Systems, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computer. Since 1994 he has been president of W.J. Houde & Associates, a small-business consulting firm in Saratoga, Calif. His present company is the fourth he has founded or co-founded since 1983. In 1990 he established Knowledge Resources to help firms develop strategies to increase customer satisfaction through training programs and other techniques. Before that, he created Seehorn Technologies to take advantage of evolving technologies in video desktop publishing, and in 1983 he founded ViMart Corp., a maker of interactive laser disk systems for personal computers. In 1984, WPI honored him with its Robert H. Goddard Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement.

As an undergraduate Houde was active in Theta Chi fraternity, the Student Government Association, the Student Activities Board, Tech News, Peddler, the Spectrum Fine Arts Series, the Radio Club and ROTC, and was a member of Pi Delta Epsilon, the electrical engineering honor society. He has continued his involvement with his alma mater as a member of the Electrical Engineering Advisory Board from 1985 to 1992 (its first chairman, from 1985 to 1988), and the Board of Trustees from 1988 to 1998. More recently, Houde was among several successful California alumni who helped WPI administrators lay the groundwork for the University's new Silicon Valley Project Center. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Los Gatos, Calif.

Valentin P. Gapontsev received an M.S.E.E. from the Polytechnical University in Lvov, Russia, in 1961 and a Ph.D. from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1972. From 1961 to 1964 he was a researcher and developer for satellite electronics at the Special Design Bureau in Lvov and was a member of the team that developed a transmitter for Sputnik, the first Russian satellite. He then served as senior scientist in laser material physics and head of the laboratory at the Soviet Academy of Science's Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics in Moscow.

In 1991 he founded the IRE-Polus Group, which he subsequently expanded to include IPG Laser GmbH in Germany, IPG Fibertech S.r.1 in Italy, and IP Fibre Devices Ltd. in Great Britain. In 1998 IPG Photonics Corp. began operations with 12 employees in the United States as a member of the IPG Group. Now a leading global manufacturer of high-power amplifiers and lasers, IPG Photonics is constructing its world headquarters on a 76-acre site in Oxford, Mass., where 1,000 workers can be accommodated. Also under construction is a new assembly facility in Burbach, Germany.

Gapontsev holds three American and three international patents for laser-related devices or applications and has more than 200 publications to his credit. He is a member of the Optical Society of America (OSA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the New York Academy of Science. In 1999 OSA honored him with its Engineering Excellence Award.

Although Jeffrey Wigand has enjoyed distinguished careers in health care management and teaching, it was his role as the highest-ranking scientist to speak out against the tobacco industry's efforts to minimize health and safety issues related to tobacco use that earned him international acclaim. In 1999 he was the subject of The Insider, the motion picture that focused on his role as the central witness in lawsuits filed by 40 state attorneys general against the tobacco industry for deception and wrongdoing that led to a $246 billion settlement. He was also featured on television's 60 Minutes for his decision to go public with information regarding the tobacco industry's disregard for public health and safety.

A native of New York City, Wigand received his doctorate with distinction in biochemistry from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and also earned a master of arts in teaching in secondary education at the University of Louisville. He held senior management positions at Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Union Carbide before joining Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. in 1988 as vice president for research and development. After the company fired him in 1993, he cooperated with government agencies investigating corporate deceit within the tobacco industry. A suit brought by B&W against him for his public disclosures was dismissed in 1997 as a condition of that year's $368 billion settlement between the attorneys general and the tobacco industry.

After leaving B&W, Wigand taught Japanese, biology, chemistry and physical sciences for three years at duPont Manual High School in Louisville. In 1996 he was one of 51 teachers honored as a Sallie Mae First Class Teacher of the Year by the U.S. Department of Education.

Wigand, who now lives in Charleston, S.C., continues his efforts to reduce tobacco use among teens through his nonprofit organization, Smoke-Free Kids Inc. His revelations of tobacco company research and marketing practices have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Award from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, WHO (World Health Organization) Award for Tobacco Control, Civil Justice Foundation Community Champion Award, and the American Heart Association Award for Meritorious Service.

Founded in 1865, WPI is an independent technological university renowned for its project-based curriculum. Commencement photos and text may be viewed at www.wpi.edu/News/Commence after May 19.

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