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Provost Wole Soboyejo to be Interim WPI President

DEPARTMENT(S): 
February 18, 2022

The following message was sent to the WPI community from Jack Mollen, Board Chair

One of the most important responsibilities of the Board of Trustees is to ensure strong and consistent leadership, particularly through a period of transition. Today the Board unanimously elected Provost and Senior Vice President Winston Oluwole “Wole” Soboyejo to serve as interim WPI president upon President Laurie Leshin’s departure in May, and he has graciously agreed to do so.

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Winston Oluwole “Wole” Soboyejo

A wonderful theme emerged during our conversations with Wole; he sees his upcoming period of leadership as a moment of service. A highly accomplished academic and administrative leader, Wole is known for being a collaborator with a great respect for the knowledge and experience of those around him. This and other qualities make him the ideal leader to help the university in the months ahead. Among the significant experience he brings is having served as president and provost of the African University of Science and Technology (AUST) in Abuja, Nigeria, a Pan-African university founded by the Nelson Mandela Institutions (NMI).   

WPI is fortunate to have a globally recognized leader in higher education, honored researcher, and well-respected member of the WPI community who is willing and able to serve in this capacity. We expect Wole will be able to step in and lead WPI seamlessly, not only because of his experience and capabilities, but because he has full knowledge of the university’s most important and pressing issues and opportunities and because he knows and embraces this community and our values and priorities. The Board has every confidence that he will be a steadfast leader of the many important initiatives underway at WPI, including supporting the mental health and well-being of our community, the continued implementation of the Lead With Purpose strategic plan, and the realization of the Beyond these Towers campaign. We also know that he will work with other outstanding campus leaders, faculty, staff, and students in this important work. Laurie fully supports Wole in this endeavor, and she will work even more closely with him beginning immediately to assure a smooth transition in May. This includes getting input and deciding on the appointment of an interim provost.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Wole is a renowned materials scientist and engineer with more than 30 years in academia and research institutes. Prior to becoming Provost in 2019, he served as the Bernard M. Gordon Dean of the School of Engineering at WPI. Wole has also held positions at Princeton University, The Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratories in St. Louis, and the Edison Welding Institute in Columbus, Ohio.  

As WPI Provost, Wole leveraged his noteworthy record of building global research and educational partnerships to help launch The Global School at WPI.  He also joined key stakeholders in facilitating interdisciplinary research teams that are driving new collaborations and innovations—and he worked closely with trustees, administration, and faculty to bring about new opportunities for teaching faculty including a tenure track.

As we continue to work our way through the pandemic and strive to address the many needs facing our community, Wole will have a strong leadership team, and all of you, to help meet these challenges.

As we’ve already shared, the Board is initiating a nationwide search for the 17th President of WPI. The process, chaired by Trustee David LaPre ’74, will be broad and consultative—several of you have already contributed in early listening sessions—and many more will, as we engage the entire WPI community including faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

In the meantime, join me in congratulating Wole and thanking him for his commitment to serve WPI as our interim president.