THE ALUMNI MAGAZINE OF NORWICH UNIVERSITY

Professor who demanded excellence from his students leaves a $3 million gift to David Crawford School of Engineering

Professor Donald Wallace — who passed away last year after a 55-year teaching career at Norwich — was legendary for holding his mechan­ical engineering students to incredibly high standards. (Photo by Norwich University Photography
Professor Donald Wallace — who passed away last year after a 55-year teaching career at Norwich — was legendary for holding his mechan­ical engineering students to incredibly high standards. (Photo by Norwich University Photography.)

“He knew he was training profes­sional engineers,” says Assistant Pro­fessor of Mechanical Engineering Brian Bradke. “In our field, you are teaching students who are going to go out and build bridges and airplanes and things people are going to trust their lives to.”

Stephen Fitzhugh, dean of the David Crawford School of Engineering, agrees.

“He had high expectations. He knew he if was tough on (his students), then they would be all right in the work­ing world — and he was right.”

Now, thanks to a $3 million bequest Wal­lace left for Norwich, those high expec­tations will continue in perpetuity.

“(Professor Don Wallace) loved his students and he loved teaching, and this gift — his legacy — was the last measure of devotion he could give.”
— Stephen Fitzhugh, director, David Crawford School of Engineering

“Don wanted to ensure that even after he was gone, the quality of the instruction, the professors, and the (engineering) program remained,” says Phil Soucy ’73, vice chair of the Nor­wich University Board of Trustees and a Wallace protégé. “He could have giv­en it to the university to do with as they wanted — that wasn’t Don.”

Engineering “is what he loved and what he committed his life to,” Soucy says, “and his gift shows it.”

Fitzhugh describes Wallace’s gift as nothing short of transformational, one that will impact the engineering pro­gram in profound and lasting ways.

“(It) will appreciably enrich experiential learning in our engineering labs and provide resources to engage visiting professors — both distinguished scholars and practitioners with specialized skills and experience—to mentor students on senior projects, oversee undergraduate research, and even teach some classes,” he says.

Bradke, Wallace’s former faculty colleague, notes that as demanding as Wallace was, every student who complained about him as a teacher came back years later and said he was the best they ever had.

“He loved his students and he loved teaching, and this gift — his legacy — was the last measure of devotion he could give.” Fitzhugh adds: “We now have the financial flexibility to attract good engineering students and provide them with the best education we can give them in the spirit of Alden Partridge.”

And that, more than anything, is precisely what Don Wallace wanted.

PROFESSOR DON WALLACE’S $3 MILLION GIFT WILL FUND:

  • A $500,000 renovation and update of the renamed Donald M. Wallace Materials Testing Laboratory, In the basement of Juckett Hall.
  • The Don Wallace Visiting Professorship in Engineering.
  • The Don Wallace Scholarship Fund for deserving junior and senior engineering students.
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