Raymond Dunn

Donor Impact with Raymond Dunn

An Investment of time

September 26, 2017
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Enrolling at WPI in 1974, Raymond Dunn ’78 had his heart set on a life in the sciences.

He majored in chemistry and, after his junior year, he took an internship with what was then Norton Company, a Worcester-based abrasives company.

The experience served its purpose, but not in the way Dunn expected.

“I was making experimental grinding wheels,” he says. “It was an excellent experience, but I found some things were missing, especially greater ‘people’ contact.”

Dunn altered his path. Reflecting on an anatomy and physiology class he took as a sophomore (“It was one of my favorite courses”), he decided more earnestly to pursue a career in medicine that had always been a consideration. He received guidance and encouragement from the late John van Alstyne, beloved mathematics professor and dean who was known as“van A” to students.

Today, thanks in large part to van Alstyne and WPI, especially the WPI Plan, he is chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. He’s also been an adjunct professor of biomedical engineering at WPI since 1992.

Giving back to the community and his alma mater always has been in Dunn’s character. As a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, he donated time to Easterseals and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. He has served WPI as a member of the Biology and Biotechnology Advisory Board and the Biomedical Engineering Advisory Board. He and his wife, Beth, supported the Sports and Recreation Center by naming one of the lanes in the new swimming pool. More recently, he made a gift to name one of the 34 century-old limestone grotesques that gazed from the heights of Alumni Gymnasium, which was razed earlier this year to make way for the new Foisie Innovation Studio and Messenger Residence Hall.

I actually feel like my financial giving is significantly less relevant than the time that I give to the students.
Raymond Dunn

Incorporated into a promenade, the grotesques, most of them sports-related, will silently watch over the new facility, which will provide generations of students with the physical space in which to immerse themselves in WPI’s distinctive brand of learning. Dunn says he made his gift out of a love for WPI but also for history (WPI’s) and architecture (the former Alumni Gym). 

 “I actually feel like my financial giving is significantly less relevant than the time that I give to the students,” he says. “The financial part is just what I can do.”

His interest in the university extends beyond service and monetary gifts. The Dunns are the parents of triplets, two of whom—Meaghan and Sarah—graduated from WPI in 2014 with degrees in biomedical engineering and management engineering, respectively.

Though Dunn completed his medical education at Albany Medical College in 1982, he continues to draw daily from his WPI experience.

“WPI placed an emphasis on self-learning and problem solving,” he says. “Especially in plastic surgery, many might be surprised to learn that almost every patient situation is unique and may require a unique solution. When I encounter a problem without an obvious solution, the school and my further training influence my ability to ‘figure out’ those solutions.”

Dunn’s work includes all areas of plastic surgery but especially reconstruction for injury patients, including burns. As he envisioned, his his career is about helping others.

“In surgery, we can start something and, in a matter of hours, have a significant positive impact on a patient’s life,” he says.

To his WPI students, some of whom are aspiring physicians, Dunn says he tries to impart “as much advice as possible. I tell them that they really have to be devoted, love it, and be prepared to work hard, but the rewards are worth the effort.”

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