WPI to Celebrate 142nd Commencement

Media Contact
May 12, 2010

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will hold its 142nd Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 15. Curt Schilling, former Boston Red Sox pitcher and founder and chairman of 38 Studios, will deliver the keynote address. The university will also bestow four honorary degrees. While the ceremony begins at 11 a.m., the event will be webcast live, starting at 10:20 a.m.

Schilling, who will receive an honorary Doctorate in Science, retired from the Red Sox in 2009 after a 22-year Major League Baseball career. His final pitching performance was a win in Game 2 of the 2007 World Series, helping to pave the way for Boston's second series win in three years. Schilling founded 38 Studios, a game development company, in 2006. He is a member of the advisory board for WPI's Interactive Media & Game Development (IMGD) major, which was launched in 2005 as the first program of its kind in the nation. His extensive involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors earned him recognition as Philanthropist of the Year by Worth magazine in 2002 and the 2001 Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Major League Baseball to the player who best combines excellence on the field with devotion to community service.

In addition to Schilling, honorary degrees will be bestowed upon the following:

Clark University President John Bassett will be awarded WPI's first Doctorate of Humane Letters. Since being named Clark's eighth president in March 2001, Bassett has overseen a period of significant progress, including an increase in the endowment, a campus building boom, a significant upgrade of Clark's information technology and alumni programs, the completion of a campus master plan, and the successful conclusion of a capital campaign, which raised $106 million. An active and enthusiastic champion of community and social justice, he has worked to more clearly focus academic, research, and co-curricular programs at Clark on experiencing diverse cultures. Bassett, who will leave Clark on July 1 to become president of Heritage University in Toppenish, Wash., received a bachelor's degree in history and a master’s in English from Ohio Wesleyan University, and a PhD from the University of Rochester.

Angela Belcher, Germehausen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering at MIT, will receive an honorary Doctorate of Engineering. Named Scientific American magazine's Research Leader of the Year in 2006, Belcher is a materials chemist with expertise in biomaterials, biomolecular materials, organic-inorganic interfaces, and solid-state chemistry. Her research focuses on evolving organisms to build new materials and devices for clean energy, electronics, the environment, and medicine. Her work has been published in prestigious scientific journals, including Science and Nature, and has been covered by Fortune, Forbes, Discover, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal; she has 20 patents or patents pending. She was also named a "Hero" for climate change by Time magazine in 2007 and received Popular Mechanics' "Breakthrough" award in 2006. Belcher holds a bachelor's degree in creative studies and a PhD in inorganic chemistry from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Gordon B. Lankton, chairman of Nypro Inc., a plastics injection molding company, and founder of the Museum of Russian Icons, both in Clinton, Mass., will be awarded an honorary Doctorate of Engineering. In 1962 Lankton joined Nypro (then called Nylon Products) as general manager and co-owner; he became president in 1970 after acquiring the other half of the company. Since 1962, the company's revenues have grown from $600,000 to $1 billion; Nypro has become a global manufacturer, with 52 companies in 17 countries. A member of the National Plastics Hall of Fame, Lankton is credited with being the first person to bring robots and automation to the plastics industry. A member of WPI’s Board of Trustees from 1981 to 2005, Lankton is now a trustee emeritus. Nypro's partnership with the Clinton School District, including the company’s sponsorship since 1992 of a FIRST robotics team at Clinton High School, earned Lankton recognition from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees in 2009; the association earlier presented him with its Community Leader for Public Education Award. Lankton received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University and an honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Of Special Interest          

The Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize will be presented during WPI’s 2010 Commencement. The prize was established in 2007 through the personal philanthropy of Donald K. Peterson '71, chair of the WPI Board of Trustees. It recognizes faculty members who, as true exemplars of the university's highest aspirations and most important qualities, excel in all relevant areas of faculty performance. One prize, in the amount of $10,000, is being awarded this year.