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Alumni Spotlight - John Mathews '70

Name: John A. Mathews

Hometown: Hadley, Massachusetts

Graduation Year: 1970

Where are you now? I have worked for the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the last 21 years. I worked in the electric power and environmental industries for 20 years before coming to the University.

What are you doing? Assistant Director for Operations, Design & Construction Management. I have directed the design and construction management of over $1 billion in building projects in a complex Higher Education environment. Projects include the programming, design, and construction of academic classrooms, animal care facilities, nanotechnology, genomics, proteomics, nanocancer, chemistry, biology, public health, and other physical, life and natural science research laboratories and facilities, nationally acclaimed combined cycle cogeneration plant, administrative spaces, new residential life complex, athletics and recreation buildings and fields, dining facilities and campus center improvements and renovations, historic building renovation, and HVAC, electrical, and other building infrastructure systems and deferred maintenance projects.

What is your favorite Wooster memory? Firstly, Chapel and evening vespers, and the raised voices of the entire school in singing hymns. At the height of the Vietnam War, Chapel and evening prayers and contemplation helped to center the individual and congeal the feelings and unison of the student body. Secondly, being part of two undefeated football teams and being motivated by the half-time locker room talks of Coach Andy Sullivan and Don Abbott – in the falls of 1968 and 1969. (The 1968 team is being recognized by the Hall of Fame this October). The requirement to take a sport each semester tested the individual and built character as we pushed ourselves on the fields and the ice. Thirdly, the dedication and mentoring of the faculty, particularly for a young man, the steadfast examples of leadership, honesty, and care for the student body represented by the instructors and coaches of Wooster, from the groundsman and the cooks, to the faculty, and most especially, Dr. Verdery.

What impact did your Wooster education have on you? Wooster took me out of a terrible, bullying school environment back home, and gave me a new start and a new life. The opportunities it provided a young student, the freedom to express ideas, to provoke discussions in class, the character it helped to build through taking on responsibility for yourself and your school, the deep enrichment I received in literature, the arts, sports, theology, the sciences and mathematics, rounded me as a person and gave me the confidence to beat the challenges that life would offer. It prepared me physically and mentally to succeed at nearly any endeavor, including representing the United States on the 1975 World Rowing Championships (5th), the 1975 Pan American (gold), and the 1976 US Olympic Teams in rowing. Then, playing on a national level for Boston Rugby Club. Then, joining the US Naval Reserves for 14 years, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Seabees.

What advice would you like to share with current Wooster students? Contribute to your school, and work hard for your own success. Build community and be a good citizen of the classroom. The success of Wooster is in your hands, each individual, by your own participation, by volunteering and contributing to each other builds something greater than self - you will continue to build Wooster’s long history as a community enriched by each other’s efforts. And, by so doing, Wooster will give back to you a foundation on which to build your own life and future academic career, it will give you strength and a moral compass, confidence to be who you want to become, and friends for a lifetime.

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