I had never heard of Brown before I opened the Navy letter that ordered me to report for active duty at the Brown University V-12 Unit on July 1, 1944. My mother had. She said it was a good college. It seemed so improbable that a 17-year-old farm boy from Vermont could go to such a prestigious school with essentially no cost to me or my family, graduate with honors and a naval commission in three years, and then go on to pursue a rewarding engineering career while serving in the Naval Reserve for 38 years. I am forever grateful to the institutions that allowed me to do that.
Who or what helped you get to where you are now?
Wow, there is a lot to credit. First: loving, tolerant parents that let me choose my own way and supported me in every way they could. Second, my eighth-grade teacher who, despite having eight grades to teach in a one-room schoolhouse, was everything a teacher should be: warm, passionate about teaching, immensely informed about the subject matter, and personally interested in the child’s learning — not only me, but all 20 of us. Third, my Brown degree — made possible by the V-12 Program.
How has your Brown education influenced and informed your career?
To get a decent job in engineering, a bachelor’s degree was and is essential. The electrical engineering concentration was useful at General Electric, particularly when I was learning the technical details of the Mark 56 Gunfire Control System, which I would later oversee as a fire control officer when I began active duty aboard the battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62) in 1954. My experience at Brown was so wrapped up in the Navy that it is hard to isolate the two. Combined, they both sent me on my way.
What is happening at Brown today that excites you?
I think it's the cutting-edge research as reported in the Brown Engineering quarterly magazine and Research at Brown’s Impact magazine. In fact, I want my testamentary gift to support climate research at Brown.
Why do you support Brown?
I felt a duty to give back to society in some way, and Brown in particular, because of the unusual opportunity I had to receive a college education and an engineering degree from such a prestigious university. It opened the way to my career, for which I am ever thankful. I give back to Brown not only out of gratitude, but also because I believe in its work and mission. I set up a bequest that will support graduate or post-doctoral research at the School of Engineering, with a preference for climate change mitigation-related research.