To Edmund Cranch fell the task of fine-tuning the WPI Plan to meet the changing needs of the 1980s. Using the skills developed during his 30-year career in engineering education, the former dean of engineering at Cornell University guided the WPI community's lively discussions of the mission of the Institute while leading the college during a period of dramatic growth.
Under his leadership, WPI raised funds for the renovation of Atwater Kent Laboratories and the Washburn Shops, as well as WPI's outdoor recreational facilities. Construction of Founders Hall was begun to provide sorely needed campus housing. New academic initiatives included programs leading to the M.S. degree in Fire Protection Engineering and the Master of Business Administration, as well as doctoral programs in biology and biotechnology, computer science, and materials science.
Cranch led initiatives to enhance cooperative ventures with industry, including the development of the Manufacturing Engineering Applications Center, the Management of Advanced Automation Technology program, and the expansion of cooperative education. And he dramatically increased the use of computers throughout the campus and expanded WPI's global programs in Europe.