President Laurie Leshin talks with Mark Macaulay ’89, ’94 MS, the new president of WPI’s Alumni Association
LL: Mark, it's great to be with you. Congratulations on becoming president of the Alumni Association—we're thrilled to have you. We're sitting here in the brand new Higgins House Alumni Center—in the Alumni Lounge. Tell us a little bit about the opportunity for alumni to come and use this facility.
MM: The beautiful part of it was the fact that Mike Abrams had done a little bit of traveling around the U.S., and found that a lot of other campuses had an alumni center, and he said, "You know what? I come from Houston, and love spending time here at WPI. It'd be great to have a place that the alumni can call home." So he was the one who endorsed it through the Alumni Association and WPI, and it's now a great spot that we can call home.
LL: Mike and his wife, Nancy, were so generous in supporting the creation of the Alumni Center at Higgins House. We welcome all alumni to come here and utilize this space. It's really for them. So, as president, tell me a little bit about what you're looking forward to working on in the coming year.
MM: We're looking into a way to dovetail with WPI what they're planning on doing for their next five year plan. We just started with a strategy session to find out exactly how we want to move forward. One of the major initiatives is TechConnect, where the Alumni Association can help alumni be better connected with WPI.
LL: I think participation of our alumni in the life of the campus is so critical and TechConnect is one of the great opportunities for alumni. You don't have to be here in Worcester or even in Massachusetts to use TechConnect to engage with us, to help our students, and to continue to advance WPI. So that's a great example.
MM: And with the new Abrams Library in Higgins House, we now have the ability to have remote Alumni Association board members join the meetings through its teleconferencing capabilities.
LL: Right. Most people think about Higgins House as being a little bit old school, but now we've got some high tech here, and it can be used for Alumni Association events, but also alumni gatherings that can become much more virtual. We can conference people in from all over the world, really. So we're going to be focused a lot on participation of our alumni as we move forward together as an institution. That's great. So you are class of?
MM: '89, and then I received my master's in '94.
LL: What do you love about WPI?
MM: I love it and I think a lot of graduates of WPI love it for the fact that it usually fits them, and I knew as I was coming out I was very good in math and science. I really didn't know what engineering was, but I knew at WPI the foundation of engineering was being good in math and science. So that's what brought me here. I found it also to be a fit in the fact that I was very active in sports—where I found my home in hockey and rugby—but I also joined a fraternity. And I'll say as an alumnus, our fraternity’s motto was “friendship, the sweetest influence.” I still have friends throughout all the groups that I was involved with at WPI. So it was a perfect fit for me.
LL: We know that's true. So many of our students get a great education that results in a great work life, a great job, but also the connections they make across the various organizations on campus really serve them for life. And the Alumni Association is such a critical part of making sure that we stay connected to our whole alumni community. Thank you for that service and for taking that on. And thank you for being with us today.