Worcester Polytechnic Institute Honors its Outgoing President

Jack Mollen, chair of the board of trustees at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, recently announced that the building on WPI’s campus currently known as the “Project Center” will be named the Laurie A. Leshin Global Project Center in honor of the university’s sixteenth president. Dr. Leshin is leaving WPI in May to become the first woman to serve as director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, one of the nation’s leading space exploration organizations with a focus on using robotic spacecraft to advance humanity’s understanding of the Earth, the solar system, and beyond.

“Naming a building on a college campus recognizes commitment: to the university, to its mission and values, and to its community,” said board chair Mollen. “Laurie Leshin, WPI’s first woman president, has been a transformational leader who has tremendously helped the growth of this university from a regional engineering school to a globally recognized STEM institution with a flourishing research enterprise.  Over the past eight years, President Leshin has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to WPI, and has led the university to profound accomplishments. For decades WPI was described as a hidden gem, and Laurie helped make this gem of academia shine like a beacon of knowledge and inspiration. She is an inspirational model for how to lead a life of curiosity, perseverance, insight, integrity, and excellence.”

Before being named president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2014, Dr. Leshin was dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Earlier in her career, she served as director of science and exploration and deputy director at the Goddard Space Flight Center, a NASA facility in Greenbelt, Maryland. Before joining NASA, Dr. Leshin taught at Arizona State University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Leshin is a graduate of Arizona State University, where she majored in chemistry. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology. For her contributions to planetary science, the International Astronomical Union has named an asteroid in her honor.

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