Worcester Polytechnic Institute Receives Million Bequest from Miriam B. Rutman Estate

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, MA - March 13, 2002 - Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has received a bequest of $6 million from the estate of Miriam B. Rutman. The gift is the second largest from an individual in the history of the University. The gift was announced by Chairman of the Board of Trustees Ronald L. Zarrella at the winter meeting of the WPI board.

"Miriam Rutman was a special lady. She had a marvelous mind, a wonderful sense of humor and she cared deeply about WPI," said Zarrella. "She continued to oversee the family printing business almost to the time of her death. Combined with previous gifts, the Rutmans' support totals over $8 million."

"Miriam and Walter Rutman made extraordinary gifts that have advanced the mission of WPI," said John Heyl, vice president of development and university relations at WPI. "Mrs. Rutman was a very dedicated trustee and was very active in the life of WPI. She became involved with WPI after her husband Walter's passing. He was a member of the class of 1930 and received a degree in chemistry," explained Heyl. "In 1983, the estate of Walter Rutman established the Walter and Miriam B. Rutman Scholarship Fund, and in 1987, the Walter and Miriam B. Rutman Distinguished Professorship in Chemistry was created."

Walter Rutman never returned to his alma mater after graduating, but his wife Miriam's association with WPI began after her husband's death in 1982. In 1983, she visited the Worcester campus and attended a ceremony at which a $1.5 million bequest from her husband was announced. It was then the largest scholarship gift ever received by WPI.

Miriam Rutman became a visionary force at WPI. She served on the University's Board of Trustees for five years and never missed a meeting.

After establishing the Rutman Scholarship Fund, she returned to WPI each fall to meet with the Rutman scholarship recipients, and in the spring, she returned to campus for commencement to personally congratulate the scholars and their families.

She also kept in touch with many of the recipients after they graduated, exchanging cards, letters and occasional visits. More than 100 WPI students have received Rutman Scholarships, and the legacy will ensure that future generations of women and men will be able to benefit from the Rutman's generosity to WPI.

Mrs. Rutman passed away in January of 2001. In her bequest to the WPI, she placed no restrictions.

The Rutmans met in the mid 1930's after Walter had completed his bachelor's degree in chemistry. Finding it difficult to gain continual employment in the midst of the Great Depression, Walter, who had been a newspaper correspondent as an undergraduate, purchased the Rhode Island Herald with a partner. Under Walter's guidance, the Herald (now the Rhode Island Jewish Herald) became profitable again. Later he purchased the Herald Press which printed the newspaper and several community papers. He turned it into one of the largest printers in Rhode Island. After her husband's death, Miriam Rutman took over their business interests and served as president of the Herald Press. She also assumed responsibility for continuing her husband's philanthropic legacies.

"Through her leadership, her generosity, her quick wit and her warm personality, Miriam Rutman touched the lives of many members of the greater WPI community," said WPI President, Edward A. Parrish. "She left an indelible mark on this institution."

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For over a century, WPI has awarded advanced degrees in the sciences and engineering disciplines, as well as the management of technology and business. Our alumni include Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry; Harold Black, inventor of the principle of negative-feedback; Carl Clark, inventor of the first practical airbag safety system; Dean Kamen, inventor of the first wearable drug infusion pump; and many others who contribute to the transformation of our technological world.