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C-SPAN Features WPI

December 18, 2015
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Worcester Polytechnic Institute to be featured as part of C-SPAN’s 2015 Cities Tour

WPI will be featured in C-SPAN’s 2015 Cities Tour series, a multisegment program that presents interesting stories from cities across the country, to be aired on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 19 and 20.

“Many people in central New England know the legacy of Robert Goddard, and it’s a
thrill to help tell his story—and Worcester’s—to a broad, national audience.”
– Laurie Leshin

During one of the segments, President Laurie Leshin speaks about the university’s connection to the “Father of Modern Rocketry,” Robert Goddard, and how members of the WPI community continue to cultivate leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

C-SPAN came to Worcester in October and interviewed a number of prominent local figures, including President Leshin and humanities instructor James Dempsey, who shared his insight into Worcester native Scofield Thayer, a publisher, patron, and critic of early 20th Century literature, of whom Dempsey authored a biography.

Since 2011, the C-SPAN Cities Tour series has been bringing viewers “on the road” to uncover the history, innovation, and contributions of communities throughout the country. Worcester is the first Massachusetts city to be featured in the tour.

The Worcester coverage includes 13 segments on the city’s industrial, literary, space-age, and human rights contributions. The national cable news network is currently available in 100 million households.

Leshin, formerly director of science and exploration at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, was invited to speak to C-SPAN about Goddard, who graduated from WPI in 1908 with a degree in general science before building and launching the first liquid-fueled rocket. She also put Goddard’s work into the context of today’s WPI, describing the university’s model of project-based learning, in which students identify real-world problems and work to find practical solutions.

“Many people in central New England know the legacy of Robert Goddard, and it’s a thrill to help tell his story—and Worcester’s—to a broad, national audience,” said Leshin. “We applaud C-SPAN for bringing some of the city’s history to life through this series. I hope viewers get a glimpse of WPI as an environment where students are encouraged to innovate for global impact.”

Jim Dempsey shares his insight on Worcester
​native Scofield Thayer, a publisher, patron,
and critic of early 20th Century literature.
– Photo by Tom Rettig

In a separate segment filmed by C-SPAN, Dempsey was interviewed for his considerable knowledge of Scofield Thayer, son of a Worcester wool merchant and editor of The Dial, a literary magazine considered by many to be a catalyst that popularized modern literature in the early 20th Century. As editor, Thayer was one of the first to publish such authors as E. E. Cummings, James Joyce, and T. S. Eliot, despite being highly critical of them. Dempsey, author of The Tortured Life of Scofield Thayer, was interviewed at Thayer’s grave, located in the city’s Rural Cemetery.

The C-SPAN Cities Tour series programming on Worcester will air on C-SPAN2’s Book TV on Charter channels 85 and 836 HD Saturday, Dec. 19, at noon and C-SPAN3’s American History TV (AHTV) on Charter channels 86 and 837 HD Sunday, Dec. 20, at 2 p.m. For more information visit the C-SPAN Cities Tour website and the C-SPAN Cities Tour Twitter page.

– BY KERRY O’BRIEN

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