President Leshin

A Look Back with Fondness and Gratitude

Dear WPI Community,

I recently had the opportunity to review the speech I made at my inauguration as WPI’s 16th president back in 2014. I spoke about two wonderful first-year students I met on campus––Lexi and Amanda––and how they were so happy here that they felt they never wanted to leave WPI. My perspective was that while this is a sentiment that I want every WPI student to have, in fact, leaving WPI is an important part of being a member of the WPI community. Taking what you’ve learned out in the world and applying it to address great challenges––that is the essence of what it means to be a part of WPI.

And so I now find that it is my time to leave WPI. My time to take what I have learned––and the lessons have been plentiful––and apply that knowledge for good elsewhere. Just like it is for our students, this moment is bittersweet. While I am certainly excited to lead a storied space exploration organization like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (you all know I am a space nerd at heart), I have loved being a part of this amazing community, and I will always think of myself as a member of #GoatNation. Even these past two years, which have been some of the most challenging in the history of our beloved institution, have brought many, many moments of joy and hope.

I will always carry my time on the Hill with me and look back on it with the deepest fondness and gratitude for you all, and for this amazing place.

I want to say a special thank you to our students, staff, faculty, board, alumni, and families. I have heard from so many of you in the past few months––wishing me well and with such kind words. It has been heartening and overwhelming. I know that our successes have come only through collaboration and a willingness to do things that were, at times, very difficult. I am so grateful to have been a part of such a committed team. Know that I believe in you. Unequivocally. You make me confident that anything is possible at WPI.

Looking back, the past eight years have been full of great accomplishment, and I’m so proud of what we have achieved together: increasing the diversity of our student body and leadership team; scaling up our impactful Global Projects Program, making it accessible to all students through global scholarships, and launching The Global School; doubling research, and significantly growing our endowment; launching Centers for Project-Based Learning, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and Well-Being; increasing student aid; opening two beautiful new buildings on campus: the Innovation Studio/Messenger Hall and Unity Hall; launching the Women’s Impact Network; revamping our faculty rewards system to better align with our values; updating our mission and values; and, just this spring, receiving our 10-year institutional re-accreditation.

These achievements not only move this great university ahead, they position it for a bright future. And so, as I prepare to “graduate” in my own way, I urge this community to keep dreaming big, and then, as Robert Goddard said best, make those dreams the “reality of tomorrow.” WPI is the institution that it is because of our incredible faculty, staff, and students. Keep moving forward––and doing what you do best––and I know this place will attract its next great leader. I look forward to cheering all of you on!

As I close, I look back to my sentiments to Lexi and Amanda on that special day in 2014. While I’m leaving WPI, I know that WPI will never leave me. This place. This commitment. These people. I will always carry my time on the Hill with me and look back on it with the deepest fondness and gratitude for you all, and for this amazing place.

Fondly, Laurie

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