Every superhero needs an origin story, and for many individuals who have brought about extraordinary accomplishments to society, WPI is where they got their start.
The university’s Hall of Luminaries will be revealed to the public on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Nearly 18 months in the making, it celebrates members of the WPI community who “achieved the pinnacle of their professions or have made exceptional contributions to humanity or to their fields.”
The event first took shape when President Laurie Leshin wanted to create a specific place on campus where alumni could be celebrated and appreciated for their achievements. Bill McAvoy, vice president, University Advancement, brought the project to his division and set things in motion. Shortly afterward, a core team including executive director of lifetime engagement Peter Thomas and executive director for advancement events and communications Judith Jaeger (both in University Advancement) and Myles Walton, past president of the WPI Alumni Association, set to work creating a place on campus that would bring Leshin’s vision to life.
“Our hope is that it will create a space to connect the current community members with giants from WPI’s past,” says Walton. “The Hall will be a tangible, reinforcing, and stimulating agent to show what’s possible.”
One of the most important aspects of the project was determining who would select inductees. Thomas explains that anyone on campus could ask to join the Balloting Committee, which would then vote on the ballot determined by the Selection Committee. Alumni from every generation were recruited, and a committee of 100 members was formed.
“It was a nice way to get folks engaged,” Thomas says. “The committee covered the whole spectrum of decades—we had many different voices and points of view.”
Members of the WPI community had four months to nominate individuals they believed should be honored, and here are the results:
George I. Alden 1926 (Hon.); John Boynton, founder; Curtis R. Carlson, 1967, 2006 (Hon.); Robert Goddard, 1908; William Grogan, 1946, 1949 MS, 1990 (Hon.); Dean Kamen, 1973, 1992 (Hon); Judith Nitsch, 1975, 2015 (Hon.); David Norton, 1962; Stephen Salisbury II, founder; Ichabod Washburn, founder; and Richard T. Whitcomb, 1943, 1956 (Hon.).