MIT and Albert O. Wilson Jr. (SB 1938) were both honored by the Cambridge YMCA last Wednesday at its 12th annual "Spirit, Body and Mind" tribute luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Mr. Wilson, a guest lecturer at MIT, has been a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board for 40 years. He is also a trustee and president of Mt. Auburn Hospital, a deacon of the Hancock Church in Lexington and president of the Massachusetts Council of Churches. He has served as a trustee of the Andover Newton Theological School for 45 years.
He majored in business and engineering administration at MIT. He and his brother Donald managed the S.O. Wilson Structural Co. in Cambridge (founded by their father), and they also founded the Wilson Cambridge Realty Trust. He has been a member of Cambridge Rotary for 54 years.
Professor (and President Emeritus) Paul Gray, a longtime friend of Mr. Wilson's, described him as a "superb role model" in his introductory remarks. He noted Mr. Wilson's longtime commitment to MIT and Cambridge, his public service and his spirituality. "Certainly, his friendship has enriched my life," said Professor Gray.
After listening to glowing tributes from speakers including Professor Gray; William N. Whelan, chair of Spaulding & Slye Colliers; and the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Griffin, president of Andover Newton Theological School, Mr. Wilson said, "I know me better than anyone else here. Don't believe everything you hear."
Standing at a podium flanked by banners that said "Caring," "Honesty," "Respect," and "Responsibility," he said, "We can each make someone else's life better... Because of our lives, the world should be better every day."
Bobbie J. D'Alessandro, Cambridge Superintendent of Schools, described MIT as "an outstanding neighbor" which "never says no" to a request from her department. She thanked President Charles M. Vest, Paul Parravano of the Office of Government and Community Relations, Emily Sandberg of the Public Service Center and the numerous MIT students who participate in public school programs. "I'm sure some of our students feel MIT is a part of the Cambridge public school system," she said.
Clare Cotton, president of the Association of Independent Colleges of Massachusetts, noted the significant economic impact MIT has had on the nation, the Commonwealth and the city of Cambridge. "We salute the achievements of MIT's past and await with confidence the wonders of its future," he said.
Executive Vice President John R. Curry, accepting the award to MIT for its "ongoing commitment to the citizens of Cambridge," thanked the YMCA for "allowing people to speak in such glowing terms" about the Institute. He took note of the exceptional relationship between the school and its host city. "There's a feeling of MIT pulsing in this city," said Vice President Curry, who came here a year ago from Caltech. "That feeling is palpable, more so than at any other institution I've been associated with."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 17, 1999.