Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will inaugurate Laurie A. Leshin as its 16th president on Saturday, Nov. 8. The installation ceremony will be followed by a luncheon. That evening, the university will celebrate its place in the universe and the promise of the next 150 years at the Intergalactic Inaugural Ball.
As part of the inaugural weekend, the university will hold a symposium titled "Inspired to Innovate: A Future-Focused Conversation" on Friday, Nov. 7. This discussion, to be moderated by President Leshin, will feature four leaders of academia and industry:
- Wanda Austin, president and CEO of the Aerospace Corporation
- Craig Barrett, retired chairman and CEO of Intel Corporation and chair of Change the Equation
- Mariko Silver, president of Bennington College
- Subra Suresh, president of Carnegie Mellon University and former director of the National Science Foundation
The conversation will focus on three topics:
- The impact of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) higher education.
- Technological innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Disruptive innovation in higher education.
The inaugural events mark the start of the observance of WPI's sesquicentennial. The Institute, then known as the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science, received its charter from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on May 10, 1865.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, Mass.
- Inspired to Innovate: A Future-Focused Conversation
Friday, Nov. 7, at 3 p.m.
- Installation Ceremony
Saturday, Nov. 8, at 10 a.m.
WPI Sports and Recreation Center
- The Intergalactic Inaugural Ball
Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.
About President Leshin
Laurie A. Leshin is an accomplished academic and administrative leader and a geochemist and space scientist. Leshin combines a lifelong love of learning and exploration with a strong track record advancing critical institutions and programs. As WPI's 16th president, she is committed to elevating the university's impact in communities worldwide. Prior to joining WPI, Leshin was dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.
She also spent six years as a senior leader at NASA. She remains a member of NASA's Mars Curiosity Team, still on call for monitoring the rover. During her time at NASA, Leshin served as deputy director of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, which oversees future human spaceflight programs and activities. Leshin also served as the director of science and exploration at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and was promoted to the role of deputy center director for science and technology during her time there.
In addition, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and served on President George W. Bush's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. She received the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2004 and the Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2011.