This message was sent to WPI faculty and staff:
I want to welcome you back from the long weekend; Memorial Day provides an opportunity for reflection, gratitude, and remembrance of those who made the greatest sacrifice. By extension, it also serves as a reminder that time is both precious and, hopefully, restorative.
At WPI we find ourselves in a moment between tremendous difficulty and great opportunities. We are poised to do many important things; at the same time, we must acknowledge the challenges of the past two years. So, at this unofficial start of summer, and before I provide a glimpse of what I believe will be an exciting new academic year, I want to encourage you to find time to rest.
Take vacation time and follow summer hours. Take opportunities to truly disconnect. Reflect upon what has been and imagine what is possible.
There is so much good for us to do—on campus and in the world. But we must approach our work in a refreshed state of being. This is both necessary and possible; we are fortunate to have a strategic plan, Lead with Purpose, to continue to guide our work for the next few years. Of course, it includes our clarified mission:
WPI transforms lives, turns knowledge into action to confront global challenges, and revolutionizes STEM through distinctive and inclusive educations, projects, and research.
WPI is a dynamic ecosystem of students, faculty, staff, and collaborators tackling the greatest challenges of our time. We are deeply committed to cocreating the solutions and advancing the frontiers of discovery that impact the lives of people, and that enable the well-being of our community and our world. Such remarkable clarity of purpose is a gift, and through the strategic planning process, our values also have been clearly stated: Respect. Community. Inclusion. Innovation. Achievement.
We want to be a community with respect for each other and others; an inclusive place that's committed to innovation and to making a difference in the world. We aspire not only to be good; but to be good for something bigger than ourselves. To do such important work, we must bring our best selves forward, so please do take the time to replenish your reserves; to recharge your batteries; and to remember what you love about WPI and how much pride you take in being a part of this university.
Care is what has gotten us through difficult times, and it is what fuels our success. This is as true today as has been throughout our history; when Mildred Tymeson Petrie wrote Two Towers, the university’s centennial history, she closed with words that continue to capture WPI’s essence and enduring spirit: “Today, the Institute stands solidly atop its rounded hill, still overlooking the City and reaching toward the sky. It stands there for more than any other reason because—by some strange and wonderful supply—there have always been enough people who cared.”
It is your unflagging care that makes WPI great. In the face of every challenge we’ve ever faced, this university continues to deliver the kind of education that prepares future leaders with strength in STEM, and a commitment to doing good in society. Your work—and theirs—has the potential to change the world for the better. Your work matters and, more important, so do you.
During this time of recalibration, I want to call your attention to some issues of importance:
- The distinctiveness of our work and the strength of our foundation were most recently recognized by NECHE, who announced they would continue WPI’s accreditation based on such strengths as our distinctive project-based curriculum, our holistic focus on students, our administrative leadership, and even our revolutionary tenure path for teaching track professors. NECHE also noticed some important challenges, and those constructive inputs will help us focus on improvements that will make WPI even better and stronger. Please take the time to read their letter and the full report.
- Throughout the summer, efforts will continue to ensure a thoughtful response to our community’s greatest needs. Our new Center for Well-Being is taking shape, and the Coronavirus Monitoring Group will continue to plan and prepare for all possible scenarios in support of the health and well-being of our students and our community.
- As you all know, I'm serving in this interim role, but there is a comprehensive national search underway for WPI’s 17th president. The presidential search committee, chaired by David LaPré ’74, consulted with more than 500 students, staff, faculty members, parents, alumni, and members of the Worcester community and a truly inspirational Presidential Position Specification was created to inform and attract candidates. I would encourage you to visit the Presidential Search site for a better sense of what has been happening with this work, and for updates.
Thank you for everything you do for our students and each other to make this university so special.