Dean O’Donnell ’86, the Heart of IMGD
The WPI community noted with profound sorrow and a great sense of loss the passing of Professor Dean O’Donnell, full teaching professor of IMGD, who died March 7, 2022. He graduated from WPI with a BS in Physics in 1986 before earning his MFA from Brandeis University in 1990 and returning to WPI as a professor in 1993. In 2004, he was a founding faculty member of IMGD.
Dean wrote numerous short plays, including “Legwork,” which has been staged in various venues, from Yale University to the Viaduct Theatre in London, and in 2002 was converted into an independent film by Javier Reyna. When he returned to WPI in 1993 as a professor in the drama/theater program, he continued to play a leadership role in the larger Boston theater community. In 1998, Dean partnered with director Marc Smith to produce an augmented reality-enhanced rendition of “The Story of Dr. Faust” for the Foothills Theatre.
His broad thinking about storytelling took Dean into writing for games, working for such companies as Epic Games, Activision, and Iron Lore Entertainment. In fact, the giant statue of a minotaur that now stands in WPI’s Gordon Library was from Dean’s time at Iron Lore.
Dean was pivotal to the culture of IMGD, both in never forgetting the fun and possibilities of the medium but also in the professional outreach and mentorship he provided. He drew from theater pedagogy to introduce master classes to bring game professionals to WPI for intensive courses. He worked with students to design and implement our PAX East booth to highlight student work at a major industry event. For students wanting to work with industry partners, he negotiated MQP sponsorships with such giants as Disney and TenCent. During Showfest—an end-of-year event that Dean created for students to come together, eat barbeque, and play each other’s games—he set up an interview couch, invited outside game developers and designers, and gave the students opportunities to be professionally interviewed about their newly created and released media, all streamed on Twitch. In 2018, Dean started the IMGD annual escape room.
He loved his wife, dog, and all things Disney and Star Wars. He found joy from being with friends, playing games, and telling jokes. He was the heart of WPI’s IMGD program since its inception.
John Bjork ’44 ME, MS, LAMBDA CHI ALPHA, Shrewsbury, Mass.
Robert Farwell ’46 ME, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Hudson, Ohio
Malcolm White ’46 CHE, MS, PHI SIGMA KAPPA, Ashford, Conn.
Eric Peterson ’51 ME, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Mansfield, Ohio
David Hallock ’53 EE, MS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Ian Davidson ’53 ME, SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON, Rock Hill, S.C.
Gene Kucinkas ’53 ME, SIGMA PHI EPSILON, South Portland, Maine
Herbert Peterson ’53 EE, SIGMA PHI EPSILON, Worcester, Mass.
Paul Brown ’55 CE, PHI SIGMA KAPPA, Westborough, Mass.
Richard Ferguson ’57 EE, MS, PHI SIGMA KAPPA, Cincinnati, Ohio
Robert Galligan ’57 CE, PHI KAPPA THETA, Lake Shore, Minn.
Larry Dworkin ’58 EE, ALPHA EPSILON PI, Holmdel, N.J.
Norman Stotz ’58 ME, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Sterling, Mass.
John Gale ’59 ME, SIGMA PHI EPSILON, Yarmouth Port, Mass.
Stuart Macomber ’60 ME, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Newton Center, Mass.
Kenneth Wheeler ’60, MS NS, Shirley, Mass.
John Kappel ’61 ME, Ama, La.
Kenneth Engvall ’61 CE, SIGMA PHI EPSILON, Worcester, Mass.
William Holmes ’61 SIM, PHI GAMMA DELTA, South Dennis, Mass.
Richard Hosmer ’61 CE, Melrose, N.Y.
Thomas Quinn ’62 CE, TAU KAPPA EPSILON, Schenectady, N.Y.
Rajnikant Dave ’63 MS, CE, Martinez, Ga.
Carl Freeman ’63 EE, PHI KAPPA THETA, Hampden, Maine
David Nordin ’63 ME, TAU KAPPA EPSILON, Shelton, Conn.
John Lewis ’65 CHE, THETA CHI, Rose Valley, Penn.
Rein Olvet ’66 MG, PHI SIGMA KAPPA, Middle Village, N.Y.
Charles Jaworski ’66 MS, NS, Rumford, R.I.
Anthony Sacovitch ’66 ME, Worcester, Mass.
Athanasios Kanatsoulis ’67 EE, SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON, Athens, Greece
William Clark ’69 MSPH, PhD PH, Pittsford, N.Y.
Bruce Tuttle ’69 ME, ALPHA CHI RHO, Flint, Mich.
Lawrence B. Cohen ‘70 CE, Boxborough, Mass.
Francis Gardner ’70 ME, McKees Rocks, Penn.
James Hannoosh ’70 ME, PHI KAPPA THETA, West Barnstable, Mass.
James Schwing ’70 MA, Ellensburg, Wash.
David Asquith ’71, SIGMA PI, West Melbourne, Fla.
John McGinnis ’72 SIM, Dennis, Mass.
Daniel Robbins ’73 CE, Belgrade Lakes, Maine
Daniel Palmer ’74 ME, Kansas City, Mo.
Paula Stoll ’78 CHE, MS, Hubbardston, Mass.
Andrew Tabak ’78 ME, Weston, Mass.
Gary Krumpholz ’78 EE, PhD EEW, Bedford, N.H.
Douglas Thompson ’78 EE, Whitinsville, Mass.
Thomas Hatfield ’81 SIM, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Barbara McQuaid ’81 MS, NS, Ware, Mass.
David Soderberg ’81 SIM, Duxbury, Mass.
Douglas Fraher ’83 LS, Waldoboro, Maine
Steven Davi ’85 CS, Schenectady, N.Y.
Dean O’Donnell ’86 PH, Easton, Penn.
Sheila Gough ’92 SIM, Woodstock, Conn.
Thaddeus Tarasiak ’92 SIM, Worcester, Mass.
Steven Dulin ’93 ME, Shrewsbury, Mass.
Brett Hayward ’95 BBT, Northport, Maine
Andrew Gagnon ’06 BBT, PHI SIGMA KAPPA, Salt Lake City, Utah
Kevin Munn ’07 ME, Wynantskill, N.Y.
The WPI community also notes the passing of these friends of the university: Margaret Kranich, Bruce McQuarrie, and Richard O’Connor.