Wentworth Honors 100-Year-Old Willard Merrill with Degree
Wentworth website, April 22, 2015
Not many men earn a college degree when they’re 100 years old.
But Willard B. Merrill of Durham, N.H., will be getting his—an honorary bachelor of technology degree at Wentworth Institute of Technology’s spring commencement exercises on Saturday, April 25.
Merrill’s son, John, Class of ’65 at Wentworth, will accept the degree on his father's behalf at the ceremony in the Institute’s Tansey Gymnasium. John will also be awarded an honorary bachelor of technology degree, as part of his 50th class reunion celebration.
Both men earned associate’s degrees at Wentworth before the school began offering bachelor’s degrees in the 1970s. Willard Merrill’s 1937 degree was in machine construction and tool design.
Wentworth President Zorica Pantić said news of Merrill’s degree is spreading on the Institute’s 31-acre campus off Huntington Avenue.
“This couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” she said, “and we can’t wait. But then again he’s waited a long time already.”
Willard Merrill was born in New Hampshire in 1914, and finished high school in the middle of the Great Depression. He later recalled that he “never looked back” after graduating from Wentworth, went into business with top engineers, and earned millions of dollars selling his designs. He currently resides in Durham, N.H.
In the commemorative book, A Century of Honesty, Energy, Economy, System: Wentworth Institute of Technology, 1904-2004, Merrill also remembered arriving in Boston in 1935 to attend school.
“I was whistling, skipping, and looking up as I studied the tall buildings,” he said. “Approaching Wentworth, I first climbed the stairs of the Museum of Fine Arts and in the company of the Indian [statue] I spent a few minutes gazing across the avenue enjoying the view of Wentworth and its surroundings.”
The Boston Globe has more on Merrill on their website.
Wentworth has two graduation ceremonies each year, in the spring and summer, due to its co-op program, and because juniors and seniors are on campus in the summer.
At the Institute’s April 25 ceremony and a much larger commencement in August, Wentworth’s Class of 2015 will join more than 38,000 Institute alumni in 72 countries and all 50 states; the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The Institute expects to award 299 degrees in April, including 172 bachelor’s, 115 master’s, and 12 associate’s. The first group of students to earn fully online master’s degrees at Wentworth is also graduating.
Anil D. Jha, founder and chief executive officer of HydroNovation Inc., will deliver the keynote address at the April ceremony.