New Book Chronicles the People and Events that Shaped WPI Over the Last Half Century

True to Plan: Crafting an Educational Revolution Beneath the Two Towers covers the birth and evolution of the WPI Plan, WPI's transformation into a modern university, and much more
October 22, 2015

True to Plan tells the story of WPI's rise from a
regional technical institute to a global university.

A new book about the last 50 years at Worcester Polytechnic Institute asks a simple question: Can a small college of engineering—proud and tradition-rich, but well off the academic beaten path and on a shaky financial foundation—lead a revolution in technical education? And can it save itself in the process?  

Those familiar with WPI today know that the answer to both questions is a decided "Yes." But the story of how that small, regional technical institute became one of world's most innovative and successful technological universities is a fascinating one.

It is told in the pages of True to Plan: Crafting an Educational Revolution Beneath the Two Towers, a 248-page, lavishly illustrated volume, by John Landry and Jeffrey Cruikshank. The new book was published by WPI in celebration of the university's 150th anniversary.

See sample pages from the new book (2 MB PDF).

About True to Plan

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The new book picks up where Two Towers, the Institute's centennial history, left off, covering the people and events that shaped WPI between 1965 and the present. The story begins as an unlikely band of faculty visionaries reimagines the Institute's founding principle—balancing theory with practice—by inventing and embracing a revolutionary project-based curriculum known as the WPI Plan. The Plan's maturation, growth, and evolution form a major thread that winds through the book.

True to Plan also charts the rise of the research enterprise and the transformation of WPI into a modern university; the arrival of WPI’s first women students and faculty members; the invention of a global approach to experiential education; and the expansion of the campus, including the development of the Rubin Campus Center and Gateway Park.

The new book includes an introduction by WPI's 16th president, Laurie Leshin, a prologue that surveys WPI's first century, and an epilogue that looks at how the university will build on the foundation it has built over the past century and a half. Here is the table of contents:

  • Introduction by Laurie Leshin
  • Prologue: The Fight for a Hill
  • Chapter 1: Revolution from the Faculty, 1965–1970
  • Chapter 2: Settling into the Plan, 1970–1978
  • Chapter 3: The Plan Meets the Real World, 1978–1985
  • Chapter 4: Becoming a University, 1985–1990
  • Chapter 5: Crisis of Identity, 1990–1995
  • Chapter 6: Regained Educational Momentum, 1995–2004
  • Chapter 7: Aggressively Riding the STEM Wave, 2004–2015
  • Epilogue: Looking Forward from Fifty Years of Change
  • Notes
  • Index