Literature Scholar Kristin Boudreau Named Paris Fletcher Distinguished Professor at WPI

Established in 1985 to honor the Worcester philanthropist, humanities and arts advocate, and longtime WPI trustee, the endowed professorship is awarded to the head of the Humanities and Arts Department under a new agreement

Kristin Boudreau, a scholar of American literature and head of the Department of Humanities and Arts at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), has been awarded the Paris Fletcher Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities and Arts.

Established in 1985 through an initial gift from the George I. Alden Trust, the professorship honors the legacy of Paris Fletcher, a longtime Worcester resident, philanthropist, and WPI trustee. Initially created to recognize distinguished scholars in the humanities and arts at WPI, the professorship will, henceforth, be awarded to the head of the humanities and arts department in accordance with the wishes of the Fletcher family.

"Paris Fletcher gave a lifetime of service to higher education, to his home city and country, and to the advancement of the humanities and arts," said Warner Fletcher, Paris Fletcher's son and current chair of the WPI Board of Trustees. "I am delighted that this professorship, established to honor my Dad by recognizing distinguished scholarship in the humanities and arts, will now also serve as a means of fostering outstanding administrative leadership of an academic department that is so central to WPI's mission of preparing well-rounded, socially aware scientists, engineers, and technologists."

"I am grateful to Warner Fletcher and the Fletcher family for elevating the prominence of the position of humanities and arts department head at WPI by linking it to the legacy of Paris Fletcher," said Karen Kashmanian Oates, Peterson Family Dean of Arts and Sciences. "I am also delighted that we can honor the scholarly achievements and administrative accomplishments of Kris Boudreau by bestowing this distinguished professorship upon her."

Kristin Boudreau joined the WPI faculty in 2009 as head of the Department of Humanities and Arts and professor of literature. In 2012 she assumed the additional role of associate dean of arts and sciences at WPI. She was previously a professor of English at the University of Georgia, where she had been a faculty member since 1997. A scholar of American literature, her research explores how literature reflects on and intervenes in cultural transformations.

She has written about the literature of slavery, the labor movement, capital cases, and modernization in more than 20 refereed journal publications and book chapters and in four books: Sympathy in American Literature: American Sentiment from Jefferson to the Jameses (University Press of Florida, 2002); The Spectacle of Death: Populist Literary Responses to American Capital Cases (Prometheus Books, 2006); Henry James's Narrative Technique: Consciousness, Perception, and Cognition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); and Henry James's Daisy Miller (Broadview edition, 2012; Boudreau was co-editor and wrote the introduction). She holds a BA in English from Cornell University and an MA and a PhD in English from the University of Rochester.

Born in Middlebury, Vt., Paris Fletcher graduated from Middlebury College, which he served as a trustee and, later, trustee emeritus for most of his adult life. He earned a law degree at Harvard Law School and practiced law in Worcester, where he became a senior partner in the firm of Fletcher, Tilton & Whipple (now Fletcher Tilton PC). Elected to the WPI Board of Trustees in 1953, he served as an active trustee for 20 years, including 11 years as vice chairman. He remained engaged in WPI affairs as a trustee emeritus until his death in 1989. WPI honored Fletcher with an honorary doctorate in science in 1973 and the WPI Award for Distinguished Service in 1977. His extensive involvement in business and civic endeavors in Central Massachusetts gave rise to the often-repeated saying that "in Worcester, all roads lead to Paris."

Fletcher loved writing and had a keen interest in the humanities. In 1985, when he stepped down after 16 years as chair of the George I. Alden Trust, the trust honored him by establishing the professorship at WPI. The new faculty chair was announced at a special event at WPI on May 15, 1985, at which noted historian and author David McCullough was the featured speaker. Following the founding gift from the Alden Trust, additional funding for the professorship was given by Paris Fletcher and his wife, Marion, and the Fletcher estate. John Zeugner, now professor emeritus of history, was the initial recipient of the Paris Fletcher Professorship and the first of six WPI faculty members who held the chair prior to this year.