WORCESTER, Mass. — Philip B. Ryan, of Bedford, has been named interim president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Ryan has been serving his alma mater since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1965. He most recently served as chairman of the WPI Board of Trustees, a position he resigned after taking the interim post in June. He had served on the board since 1999.
“It’s a great honor and an awesome responsibility,” he said.
He said he’s happy that he has the time and energy and that the trustees “believe I can lead the university as we search for our next president.”
Ryan replaces President Dennis Berkey, who announced he was stepping down after 16 years in May.
“The search committee for a new president is just getting organized, and will include faculty, staff and alumni,” Ryan said, adding the committee’s first meeting is Aug. 5.
“I am also looking forward to working closely with the WPI community as we choose our next president and as we make strides toward such landmark events as the celebration of our 150th anniversary and the realization of ‘if...The Campaign to Advance WPI,’” he said.
The campaign is a seven-year, $200 million fundraiser that will provide scholarships and financial aid packages so the university can attract and compete for students from diverse backgrounds; and provide fellowships, awards and stipends to attract graduate students to enrich the university’s research mission, according to the university’s website.
After graduating from WPI, Ryan earned a master of business administration degree from Harvard Business School in 1970. Ryan has experience serving on public, private and nonprofit organizations, and remains an active member of The United Way.
He grew up in Massachusetts, and lived in Manchester and Bow before settling in Bedford in 1991.
Throughout his career, Ryan has led several companies through mergers and growth.
After serving from May 2003 to December 2011, he retired as CEO of Merchants Automotive Group in Hooksett, a private company owned by the Singer family, which specializing in corporate fleet leasing, fleet management and real estate investments. “I retired as CEO following a smooth and effective leadership transition,” Ryan said.
In 1997, he founded Ryan Associates in Bedford, a business management company to assist entrepreneurial companies with strategy and implementation, operations, mergers and capital restructuring. There, he served clients in diverse industries, including building materials, sporting goods, public utility, information management, trade shows exhibitors and transportation technology.
He returned to Ryan Associates for about a year in 2012 as an independent consultant to mentor leadership teams and boards in corporate strategy, capital restructuring and divestiture.
From 1990 to 1997, Ryan was president and CEO of Elliot Health System. He led the merger between Elliot Health Services, Fidelity Health Alliance and Catholic Medical Center, and created Optima Health in 1994. “As president of Optima Health, I developed a plan for consolidation of clinical and support services that received unanimous state regulatory approval,” he said.
Two years after leaving Optima Health, the board of trustees disbanded the organization, and the hospitals returned to independent status. From May 1970 to July 1990, he worked in the investment banking industry.
“For 20 years, I was owner of The Bigelow Company, a private investment banking firm that serves entrepreneurs, and it’s still serving today,” he said.
Ryan’s home base is in Bedford with his wife, Judy. They have two grown children, Phil and Kate.