Office of the President

Dear WPI Community,   
Our Board of Trustees gathered on campus May 9-10 to hold its annual Board meeting and participate in WPI’s Class of 2024 Commencement ceremonies to celebrate our students’ achievements with faculty, staff, families, friends, and alumni. At the two ceremonies, we recognized four esteemed alumni with honorary degrees: Michael Dolan ’75 and trustee emeritus; Nancy Pimental ’87; Chartsiri Sophonpanich ’80; and Greg Tucker ’92. They each delivered inspiring messages to our graduates, and I am grateful for their support of WPI. 

During the Trustees meetings, the Board undertook one of its most important duties: approving the list of degree candidates. The Board also approved twelve faculty emeriti, with effective dates in July 2024 or at the end of their phased retirement plan, recognizing the valuable contributions that these faculty members have made to WPI and will continue to make:  

  • Joel Brattin 
  • Chrysanthe Demetry 
  • James Dittami 
  • Michael Elmes 
  • John Goulet 
  • William Michalson 
  • Kaveh Pahlavan 
  • Gary Pollice 
  • Richard Quimby 
  • Khalid Saeed 
  • Brian Savilonis 
  • John Sullivan 

The Board celebrated the winners of the Trustees’ awards for 2024: 

  • Professor Karen Troy, BME, Chair’s Exemplary Faculty Prize 
  • Assistant Teaching Professor Greg Lewin, RBE, Outstanding Teaching 
  • Fuller Professor Jamal Yagoobi, MME, Outstanding Research & Creative Scholarship 
  • Associate Professor Leonard Albano, CEAE, Outstanding Academic Advising 
  • Associate Professor Mark Richman, AE, Nicoletti Award for Service to Community 
  • Senior Instructional Lab Engineer Joel Harris, MME, Outstanding Staff Member 
  • Senior Research & Evaluation Associate Kimberly LeChasseur, Morgan Teaching and Learning Center, Outstanding Staff Member 

The Board’s committees heard reports from: 

  • Amanda Laungani, Director of the Heebner Career Development Center, on the 2023 First Destination Outcomes report 
  • Charlie Morse, Dean of Wellness, on a potential opportunity for WPI to adopt the Okanagan Charter, which would commit the University to a holistic culture of health
  • George Heineman, Chair of the Faculty Committee on Governance (COG), and Mark Claypool, former Chair of the Committee on Tenure & Academic Freedom, on procedures for handling cases alleging violation of academic freedom 
  • Representatives from Ayers Saint Gross, our campus framework planning firm, who presented the campus framework plan results

Board Chair Bill Fitzgerald and I recognized the following Faculty Appointees to Board Committees, who served two two-year terms: Carolina Ruiz, Academic Planning Committee; David Medich, Facilities & Campus Infrastructure Committee; and Elizabeth Ryder, Student Affairs Committee. We also recognized Mark Richman for his service as Secretary of the Faculty for these past three years; George Heineman for serving as Chair of COG for the past academic year; and Theona Scola for serving as Chair of the Staff Council for the past two years.  

The Board approved changes to the Faculty Handbook regarding a motion to establish a formal Procedure for Complaints of Academic Freedom Violations and a motion to modify the Faculty Grievance Procedure. These changes to the Faculty Handbook are the culmination of deep effort and collaboration by Secretary of the Faculty Mark Richman, the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure and its subgroup on Academic Freedom, Provost Art Heinricher, the Office of General Counsel, and many faculty and staff, and were approved by the Faculty at the March 13, 2024 Faculty meeting.  

The Board approved the FY25 operating and capital budgets.  

Mark Richman, Secretary of the Faculty, reported on the efforts and actions taken by Faculty Governance, and Theona Scola, Chair of the Staff Council, provided an update on the work of the Staff Council.  

I presented a campus update, highlighting our university priorities: 

  • Transformative STEM education 
  • Immersive experience centering well-being, belonging, and community 
  • High-impact research, innovation, and entrepreneurship

These priorities are all underscored by our financially robust operation.  

I also formally shared with the Board Bogdan Vernescu’s promotion to Vice President and Vice Provost for Research and Innovation, the acquisition of the Gateway II building at 50 Prescott Street, and the launch of the search for our next Vice President and Chief Marketing Communications Officer.  

Finally, I reported the tremendous progress our University Advancement team has made in fundraising this fiscal year and announced a generous $3 million gift establishing the Paul A. Covec ’64 Innovation and Commercialization Endowment, which is dedicated to sustaining and fueling innovation and technology commercialization at WPI. 
Thank you for what you do and what you have accomplished collectively and collaboratively in support of WPI and our mission. Congratulations on a great academic year! Have a great summer!