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A Picture-Perfect Welcome

November 10, 2022

Following an extensive national search, November 7 saw the formal announcement of WPI’s 17th president, Grace Wang, PhD, a materials scientist and accomplished, collaborative leader in higher education, government, and industry. Currently executive vice president for research, innovation, and knowledge at The Ohio State University, Wang is set to assume the presidency at WPI on April 3, 2023. In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of her introduction to the WPI community, where she took questions, met faculty, staff, and students, and shared what she looks forward to in her new role, including “… listening and learning from the great minds who make WPI what it is and whose voices will play an essential role in defining our way forward.”

Grace Wang waves to the crowd gathered in the Rubin Campus Center Odeum.

WPI’s president-elect, Grace Wang, PhD, accepts the warm greeting from the overflowing crowd of students and employees at a welcome address and reception in the Rubin Campus Center on November 7.


David LaPre addresses the crowd in the Rubin Campus Center Odeum.

WPI Trustee David LaPré ’74, chair of the presidential search committee, gave a special acknowledgement to “those who served on the search committee and the advisory group for their efforts, diligence, and commitment to finding the best possible next president of WPI.” 


Grace Wang addresses a packed house in the Rubin Campus Center Odeum.

“WPI is a unique and distinctive institution that is innovative and also practical enough to focus on the real world,” says Wang, noting she was humbled and honored to be WPI’s next leader.


Grace Wang takes a question from a student in the audience.

Wang took questions from the crowd, including community members who asked about her favorite color (crimson and gray, she said without missing a beat in response to Executive Administrator, Talent & Inclusion Chris Benoit), her approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and her proudest accomplishments.


Grace Wang meets with students in the Rubin Campus Center Odeum.

Wang plans to hold listening sessions with the WPI community soon, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t get a head start on introductions—after her community welcome, she began chatting with attendees.


Grace Wang shakes hands with Neil Heffernan.

Wang also spent time meeting with faculty following her introduction, including sharing a handshake and a few minutes of conversation with Professor of Computer Science Neil Heffernan and Vice Provost for Research Bogdan Vernescu.


Grace Wang smiles with Wole Soboyejo between two WPI banners.

President-elect Wang and Interim President Wole Soboyejo don’t just have WPI leadership roles in common—they’re also both materials scientists and engineers, a shared expertise they both commented on. “As Wole said, you don’t get a whole lot of this combination of leaders with materials science and engineering [backgrounds] because there really aren’t that many of us out there. Now you are stuck with two of us!” Wang joked. “The good thing is we can relate to each other. He understands my materials science analogies.”