William Fitzgerald Named Chair of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Board of Trustees
William “Bill” Fitzgerald, honored alumnus (Class of 1983) and distinguished engineer and business leader, has been named chair of the Board of Trustees. A WPI trustee since 2013, he began his service as chair earlier this month. He succeeds Jack Mollen, who will rotate off the board this summer after 15 years of dedicated service.
Fitzgerald recently retired from GE Aviation where he served as vice president and general manager of the Commercial Engines Operation and was responsible for all commercial jet engine products and global support, including the GEnx product line, the fastest-selling jet engine in GE’s history. Throughout his career, he worked to increase efficiencies in the manufacturing and performance of GE engines. Upon earning his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from WPI, he began his career at GE Aviation as part of the Manufacturing Development Program and progressed through technical and operational leadership positions across supply chain and engine services businesses in the U.S. and Europe. He also earned a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering at Boston University and is a graduate of GE’s Advanced Manufacturing course. In 2013, he received WPI’s Robert H. Goddard Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement from the WPI Alumni Association. In his most recent service on the WPI Board of Trustees, he chaired the Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), which focused on evaluating the Board’s practices and purposes in recruiting and developing members who can authentically represent the current and future WPI community. Those efforts are informing the work of the Board’s Nominations & Governance Committee, which he began chairing this year. Fitzgerald is also vice chair of the March of Dimes National Board of Trustees.
“Bill is an exceptional leader who is deeply committed to helping steer WPI toward its continued commitment to transform lives—on campus and around the globe—through this university’s pioneering project-based approach to STEM education," said WPI President Laurie A. Leshin. "He deeply appreciates the distinctiveness of WPI’s educational approach that provides our students, faculty, researchers, alumni, and staff opportunities to use their knowledge, skills, and passions to help address the world’s great problems—wherever they might be, and within any context.”
Leshin will depart WPI at the end of this academic year to become the director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. As of that time, Provost and Senior Vice President Winston Oluwole “Wole” Soboyejo will serve as interim president.
“To succeed, a president needs a strong collaborator and advocate in a board chair,” continued Leshin. “Bill brings essential knowledge, experience, and familiarity with the power of WPI’s distinctive, interdisciplinary, project-based approach to problem solving while recognizing that we must continually reposition and reshape our educational and research approaches to best serve our students, our community, and the world.”
“WPI gave me an incredible foundation,” said Fitzgerald, “and I was able to build a meaningful career grounded in my education and experiences on this campus. This place has always called to me, first as a student, and then in my fulfilling work as a trustee. This is a critical time for WPI; not only are we working to incorporate lessons learned about how we can be stronger and more relevant to the global community, we are also looking inward to focus on building a culture of greater inclusion, belonging, and respect. Like all higher education, WPI is reflecting on the shifting needs of students, looking beyond their academic and career needs to also address their developmental, social, mental health, and overall wellness needs. This is important and exciting work, integral to our goals to attract and welcome diverse minds and to be a community where all can thrive as we help each other address great problems. I am grateful for this honor and this opportunity to continue to help with these critical efforts by serving this remarkable institution as the chair of its Board of Trustees.”
George Oliver ’82, chairman and CEO of Johnson Controls International, WPI trustee, chair of the university’s $500 million Beyond These Towers comprehensive campaign, and chair of the search committee, says Fitzgerald was the unanimous choice. “With both Wole’s appointment as interim president, and Bill’s being named board chair, we will have the strong and consistent leadership we need in the year ahead as we seek our 17th president. We have every confidence that Bill is the right person, capable of and committed to supporting the university in meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities to prepare and support the next generation of STEM professionals.”