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NDW Newsletter

DEPARTMENT(S): 
February 16, 2022

 

“Hey, WPI!  I listen to you guys all the time!  Traffic and weather on the 3’s!”

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Norm Wilkinson, Business School Programs Director

It was fall 1995, a month or so into my career at WPI, and I was at a Business Expo at Hynes Auditorium in Boston promoting our graduate business programs to anyone who would listen.  While the guy who thought we were a radio station was the extreme, there were a lot of people who knew nothing about WPI, much less our business programs.  Truth be told, until I applied for a job here, I knew very little about WPI, other than it was solid academic institution in the wilds of Central Massachusetts.

27 years later, I’m still here.  It didn’t take long to discover WPI is a special place.  Academics was kind of the family business; both my parents were college professors, and I’d grown up on the campuses of the University of Michigan and later the University of Maine.  I’d studied and/or worked at Boston University, Syracuse University, and UConn, and always loved the energy of a college campus.  

But WPI is different.  Every stakeholder here – students, alumni, faculty, staff – feels part of something bigger than themselves.  There is a sense of pride in this community that is so much more than just a place to earn a credential or collect a paycheck. Before WPI, I’d never stayed at a job longer than 2 years – I was always looking for the next best thing. Turned out I found the best thing when I joined WPI.

Back in 1995 we were the Department of Management, and while we had outstanding faculty and great students, we were not accredited and barely on the business school map, even in the Greater Boston area.  What we had, though, was the belief we had something special to offer.  By 2003, we had the highest level of b-school accreditation, something only 5% of b-schools worldwide can claim.  By 2009, we were ranked the top part-time MBA program in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek.  By 2010 we were a School of Business, the first such school within WPI.  Since then, we’ve continued to keep our undergrad majors on the leading edge; we’ve added specialized master’s programs to meet market need; we’ve developed a world-class doctoral program; all with the same goal of preparing our students to lead at the intersection of business, technology, and people.

While the growth and accolades are nice, what’s kept me going is the students.  My own two kids, now 29 and 24, have grown up with me at WPI, and I’ve always tried to treat our students the way I would want my kids to be treated. The best thing we can give kids is confidence – a belief in themselves.  WPI has allowed me to be a student advocate.  To see a student I met decades ago in Mumbai, Shanghai, Tokyo, or any of the other places I’ve traveled on behalf of WPI, flourishing in their new life in the U.S. is the greatest reward.  Helping my shy, quiet freshmen advisees transform into strong campus leaders keeps me energized. If I have a regret, it’s not finding the bandwidth to keep in touch with our amazing alumni, so if you’re an alum reading this, know that you’re not forgotten and that we’re all super proud of you.

I’ve also been fortunate to work with the best faculty and staff I could imagine.  Not going to name names as I’d hate to inadvertently leave someone out, but there is no better group of people than the WPI Business School.

I’ll be retiring from WPI July 1, and while I’m excited to move onto the next chapter - coaching, volunteering, travelling, praying for grandkids – I’ll always be Team WPI.