Dennis D. Berkey, President and CEO of Worcester Polytechnic Institute has announced that he will conclude his service at the close of the academic year. Phil Ryan, Chair of the WPI Board of Trustees, will serve in a leadership capacity as the search for a new President begins.
"Dennis Berkey has been a strong leader and highly effective President for the past nine years," said Ryan. "Under his administration, WPI has flourished, both financially and academically. We applaud his many significant accomplishments, thank him for his service, and wish him well in all of his future endeavors."
Berkey served as WPI's 15th President since 2004, one of the most dynamic periods of growth in the university's history. His most notable accomplishments include improving the financial performance of the university, expanding academic programs and campus facilities, increasing student enrollment and faculty numbers, strengthening the university’s relationship with the community and promoting the university’s role in economic development in and around the city of Worcester.
"This decision was made after careful thought and discussion with the leaders of our Board of Trustees," Berkey said. "Fresh ideas are important to continuing institutional advancement, and I am looking forward to having the time to reflect on what we have accomplished at WPI and how else I might contribute value in higher education. I leave WPI in capable hands, in a strong condition, and well-poised for further advance as an exemplar of the best in American higher education."
During the Berkey administration, WPI has attracted record numbers of some of the best and brightest students nationwide, as demand for a WPI education grew tremendously; applications for admission doubled during his tenure, and the academic quality and diversity of applicants increased continually. Fiscally, despite one of our nation's worst recessions, Berkey led the university from operating deficits to a position of financial strength and stability, holding tuition increases well below national averages and increasing compensation of faculty and staff.
A champion of an interdisciplinary, project-based approach to education, Berkey invested in a range of new programs, including bioengineering, life sciences, interactive media and game design, environmental studies, learning sciences, architectural engineering, and robotics; in 2006, WPI became the first university in the nation to offer a B.S. in robotics engineering, and that program quickly became the third most popular major at WPI. Later, the institute added Master's and Ph.D. programs, becoming the first university in the nation to have all three levels of degree programs in robotics engineering. Berkey was also a driving force behind the establishment of the WPI School of Business and the introduction of academic deans to the university; in 2010, the university instituted Deans of Engineering, Arts and Sciences, and Business. Since 2004, the university's research funding has grown nearly threefold.
The city of Worcester has also benefitted from Berkey's leadership. He was chief architect of WPI's voluntary "Payment in Lieu of Taxes" (PILOT) agreement with the city of Worcester, which began in 2009 and directly supports Worcester Public Library and Institute Park with over $9 million in funding over 25 years. In addition, and under Berkey's leadership, WPI has led the investment of more than $110 million in Gateway Park, a comprehensive urban redevelopment project that has transformed a blighted and underutilized area in the core of the city into a clean, thriving, mixed-use park that is home to a growing range of academic, research, and commercial enterprises. Gateway Park is the home of several WPI divisions, including the thriving Corporate and Professional Education Division, a progressive educational partner with companies in the medical, energy, and defense industries.
Promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education has also been a key priority for Berkey, who has served on a number of organizations aimed at improving STEM education, including the Massachusetts Governor's STEM Advisory council, the Integrating College and Career Readiness Task Force, and the Executive Board of the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative (MMSI). Berkey's impact on STEM education further expanded in 2012, when the STEM Education Center at WPI opened.