At its 142nd Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 15, 2010, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will award honorary degrees to a former Red Sox pitcher who has become a game development entrepreneur; the outgoing president of Clark University who is a champion of community and social justice; a MacArthur Foundation Fellow who is addressing energy, environmental and health challenges as a materials chemist at MIT; and a plastics industry pioneer who is also a museum founder.
In addition to receiving an honorary doctorate, Curt Schilling, former Red Sox ace and founder and chairman of 38 Studios in Maynard, Mass., will deliver the Commencement address. Schilling retired from the Red Sox in 2009 after a 22-year Major League baseball career. His final pitching performance was a win in Game 2 of the 2007 World Series, helping to pave the way for Boston's second series win in three years. Schilling founded 38 Studios, a game development company, in 2006, and a year later started the company's annual Massachusetts Game Challenge. Eight WPI students won prizes in the 2008 and 2009 competitions (Schilling visited students during a marathon game development weekend in 2008). Schilling is a member of the advisory board for WPI's Interactive media & Game Development (IMGD) major, which was launched in 2005 as the first program of its kind in the nation. Schilling's extensive involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors earned him recognition as Philanthropist of the Year by Worth magazine in 2002 and the 2001 Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Major League Baseball to the player who best combines excellence on the field with devotion to community service.
Since being named the eighth president of Clark University in March 2001, John Bassett has overseen a period of significant progress, including an increase in the endowment, a campus building boom, a significant upgrade of Clark's information technology and alumni programs, the completion of a campus master plan, and the successful conclusion of a capital campaign, which raised $106 million. In addition, Clark has seen an increase in student quality and recruited 83 new faculty members during Bassett's tenure. An active and enthusiastic champion of community and social justice, he has worked to more clearly focus academic, research, and co-curricular programs at Clark on experiencing diverse cultures, learning through inquiry, and making a difference. In addition to his administrative work, Bassett is a professor and scholar of American literature, having published 11 books (including Sherwood Anderson: An American Career), more than 30 professional articles, and an annotated bibliography of criticism of the author William Faulkner. Bassett, who will leave Clark on July 1 to become president of Heritage University in Toppenish, Wash., received a bachelor's degree in history and a master's in English from Ohio Wesleyan University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.
Angela Belcher was appointed Germehausen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering at MIT in 2006. That same year, she was named Scientific American's Research Leader of the Year. A materials chemist with expertise in biomaterials, biomolecular materials, organic-inorganic interfaces, and solid-state chemistry, Belcher's research focuses on evolving organisms to build new materials and devices for clean energy, electronics, the environment, and medicine. In 2003 she co-founded Cambrios Technologies in Mountain View, Calif., to commercialize biologically formed electronic materials. She founded Siluria Technologies in 2007 to bring additional new products to the market. Her work has been published in prestigious scientific journals, including Science and Nature, and has been covered by Fortune, Forbes, Discover, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal; she has 20 patents or patents pending. Belcher has received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the 2004 Four Star General Recognition Award. She was named a "Hero" for climate change by Time magazine in 2007 and received Popular Mechanics' "Breakthrough" award in 2006. Belcher holds a bachelor's degree in creative studies and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Gordon B. Lankton is chairman of NYPRO Inc., a plastics injection molding company, and founder of the Museum of Russian Icons, both located in Clinton, Mass. He joined NYPRO (then called Nylon Products) in 1962 as general manager and co-owner, and became president in 1970 after acquiring the rest of the company. Since he joined the company, NYPRO's revenues have grown from $600,000 to $1 billion, and NYPRO has become a global manufacturer, with 52 companies in 17 countries. A member of the National Plastics Hall of Fame, Lankton is credited with being the first person to bring robots and automation to the plastics industry. The Museum of Russian Icons, where Lankton now devotes most of his time, houses the largest collection of Russian artifacts in America, which he acquired during his travels to Russia on business. Located in a renovated mill building and powered by solar energy, the museum has become a major tourist destination since its 2007 opening. A member of WPI's Board of Trustees from 1981 to 2005, Lankton is now a trustee emeritus. The university honored him for his contributions to WPI and the Central Massachusetts community at Homecoming in 2009. NYPRO's partnership with the Clinton School District, including the company's sponsorship since 1992 of a FIRST robotics team at Clinton High School, earned Lankton recognition from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees in 2009; the association earlier presented him with its Community Leader for Public Education Award. Lankton received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University and an honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.