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Remembering Jim Walker

Watson F. Walker, known to everyone as Jim Walker, died on Dec. 6, 2004. Jim came to RIT as head of the electrical engineering department in 1967. It can be said without undue exaggeration that his pioneering efforts laid the solid foundation on which the reputation of the department has continued to grow to the high level it has today.

When he arrived, the EE program was not nationally accredited and the master’s degree program, which Jim had started a year earlier as an adjunct faculty member, was in a state of infancy. During the next several years, Jim hired a number of new faculty members, most of them with solid industrial experience and advanced degrees, got the EE program accredited and strengthened the master’s program.

Among the many trails he blazed was the off-campus graduate course offerings and the videotaping of a number of graduate courses in the early ’70s.

In 1974, he stepped down from the department head position and started teaching full time. He was a challenging teacher who demanded excellence from his students and earned not only their respect but also their affection. There was one particular course that the students wanted him to teach. When he told them that the only time he could teach the course was at 7 a.m. four days a week, they had no problem with that. He was also the first engineering faculty member to have students do serious design projects as part of his course.

Among all of his outstanding qualities, the one that impressed all of us was his no-nonsense and unpretentious attitude and his incredible sense of humor. He was a model of integrity and honesty. He was truly an exceptional human being and we were fortunate that we knew such a man.

Swaminathan Madhu
Professor of electrical engineering
Kate Gleason College of Engineering

Hockey move scores with grad

I would like to congratulate RIT on the move to Division I in men’s ice hockey. I believe that this is a move that can pay great dividends for the university.

As a player and coach from 1994 to 1999, I have seen the growth and success of our cherished program. I feel like we have put RIT on the map over the years and this can only improve our standing as a top-notch university and hockey program that continually turns out quality people.

In my career following RIT, I have had the chance to coach and continue my education at the University of Maine, one of the premier hockey programs in the nation. I have seen the benefits that a winning and successful program can bring to the student-athletes, the student body, the community, and the university as a whole. There is a major sense of pride that individuals have in the university, especially when the athletic teams are successful and constantly in the national spotlight.

My association with RIT has proven to be very beneficial. It has allowed me to succeed in life and in my career.

As the youngest coach in professional hockey, I am glad to say that RIT molded me into a successful young coach. I am proud to say that I went to RIT and will continue to support the mission that has been set forth.

Matt Thomas ’98 (criminal justice)
Head coach, director of hockey operations
Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies (2003 ECHL Kelly Cup champions)

Recalling SOS

What a charge I got out of the letters in the winter issue regarding SOS. As a member of the 1970 orientation committee, it was I who came up with the “SOS” moniker. When I last visited the campus in 1992 I saw “thank you” letters from parents posted on the SOS bulletin board and was pleasantly surprised that the SOS name had carried on. I wish I had made such a contribution scholastically! As a perennial pack rat, I still have an SOS-bag, an “OPUS ’69” button (Operation Campus – pre-SOS), and the orange “alpine hat” that freshmen were forced to wear during orientation in my first year, 1967. What great memories!  

Scott MacLeod ’72 (photography)
Brentwood, Calif.


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