When he enrolled at WPI, John Lott Brown '46 (1924-2011) heeded his father's advice that a degree in engineering can be good preparation for a wide variety of professions. In his long and distinguished career as a psychologist, educator, administrator and university president, Brown has demonstrated just how wise that advice was.
Brown received his Electrical Engineering degree as part of the wartime Navy V-12 program. After his Navy service, he enrolled at Temple University and earned a master's in psychology. After a brief career in industry, he decided to return to school to pursue a Ph.D., which he earned at Columbia University. At Columbia, he became involved in an early Air Force research project on human factors engineering, which led to a post as head of the Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory at the Naval Air Development Center.
At the same time, he joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, ultimately becoming director of the graduate program in physiology. He continued his research on physiology of the visual system at Kansas State University, where he eventually became academic vice president. In 1978 he was named president of the University of South Florida. In 1994, after serving in 'retirement' as director of a university research center, he agreed to lead WPI as interim president while the school searched for its 14th chief executive.
Awards and Honors
- Robert H. Goddard Alumni Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement (1969)
- Commencement speaker (1984)
- Skull (1995)
- William R. Grogan Award (June 1996)
- Hobart Newell Award
- Board of Trustees member emeritus