President Laurie Leshin and Eric Beattie

President Laurie Leshin and Eric Beattie

Eric Beattie: A Conversation with the President

March 22, 2019
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LL So, Eric, it’s great to get to talk to you about something so important on our campus: our infrastructure and our facilities. With our great, beautiful campus—a combination of historic buildings and newer structures—now that you’ve been with us for about a year, what do you think of the campus at WPI?

EB It’s really a terrific campus with such rich history. The original buildings are used every day, and the buildings that have been added to the campus over the years have really added a lot of texture and richness, with each one serving an important, clear purpose for WPI’s mission.

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President Laurie Leshin and Eric Beattie alt
President Laurie Leshin and Eric Beattie

LL It’s so true, whether it’s a building that supports student life and activity through the sports and recreational center or the academic buildings. Looking forward, one of the things we’re focused on is putting together an integrated, five-year plan for the campus. One of the things I’m most excited about is a focus upon some of the more historic buildings, buildings that almost all of our alumni took classes in, whether that’s Stratton or Olin or Kaven Hall. Tell us a little bit about what’s going to happen with some of those historic buildings on campus.

EB We’re really excited with the five-year plan, because it’s going to allow us to address a lot of deferred maintenance that some of our older buildings really need. We’re going to make improvements that not only replace older systems that are worn out, but make the buildings more accessible. We’ll improve spaces and replace systems to keep those buildings in great shape for the future generations.

LL They’re such beautiful buildings but, as you said, they’re not all accessible to our students, so the idea of making all of our older buildings accessible to me is one of the most exciting things in the five-year plan. But just renovating our existing spaces isn’t going to be enough because WPI is growing. Our student numbers are growing, our research is through the roof, so we really need new spaces for future innovation at WPI, and we’ve got some big plans there too, right?

EB Spaces have become tighter and tighter. Classrooms are stretched these days, faculty offices are all filled and we’re really running out of places to put people. So we’re excited that with the plan we intend over the next five years to bring a new academic building online. It has some really exciting programming and features to it, to not only address some of those space constraints we have, but thinking about growth for the future.

LL Right. So the new building is going to be in the Boynton parking lot—kind of at the base of the library, for everybody that knows our campus. It’ll allow students to have access to the Hill from inside the building, which will be great on a cold January day.

EB Especially on a cold day in January.

LL We’re very excited about the new building, with an interdisciplinary, computational sciences, and smart-world focus. And we know that new spaces really inspire new thinking, and that’s what really motivates me when pondering the physical infrastructure of the campus. So I just want to thank you for all the work you’re doing in support of our beautiful campus.

EB You’re very welcome.

Conversation with the President: Spring 2019

Videographer: Brandon Vincent

First Published in the WPI Journal Spring 2019