Wasylean, Fullers Receive Honorary Degrees for Steadfast Support

April 28, 2017
Three steadfast supporters of Worcester State University received honorary degrees at the Academic Achievement Awards ceremony on Thursday, April 27, in recognition of their deep commitment to the University and its students. Phillip M. Wasylean II ’63 and philanthropic couple Mark and Janice Fuller were presented with doctors of humane letters, honoris causa, on a night that also honored student achievement across the University.

Wasylean is one of Worcester State’s most generous benefactors, having donated more than $1 million to benefit students, especially for scholarships. The first of his family to attend college, he credits the preparation he received at Worcester State Teachers College for giving him the foundation to succeed in his 42-year teaching career.

“You chose to share the fruits of your labor freely and abundantly with current and future students. You have given selflessly to promoting and advancing scholarship,” said Vice President for University Advancement Thomas McNamara ’94, reading from the honorary degree citation. “Students’ lives have been enriched and transformed through your numerous endowed scholarships and your unsurpassed generosity.”

Through the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, Mark and Janice Fuller have supported WSU in many ways, including helping to fund capital projects, such as the construction of the Wellness Center and renovations to the Fuller Theater, as well as supporting the Latino Education Institute, numerous scholarships, and academic programming.

“You have been a faithful and loyal advocate of the institution through your actions, words, and deeds,” said McNamara. “As a pillar within the Worcester State University community and the greater Worcester community you have lived your life as a citizen for others.”

Janice Fuller is the retired vice president of finance at REFCO Inc. and currently serves as vice chairman and assistant treasurer of the Fuller Foundation. Mark Fuller is an insurance broker for Risk Strategies Company in Worcester. He is chairman and treasurer of the Fuller Foundation. In addition to their leadership at WSU, both are involved with numerous local charitable boards.

The annual Academic Achievement Awards ceremony honors the highest-ranking students in each of the academic disciplines, as nominated by department faculty. Special awards were also presented during ceremony, including the Lt. Col. James F. Sheehan ’55, USMC Ret. Awards to the students with the top G.P.A. in each class, other academic recognition awards, the Presidential Award, and the Ella M. Whitney Award.

Over his career, Wasylean taught English, Spanish, social studies, English as a Second Language (ESL), bilingual education, and drama. He was a yearbook advisor, media specialist, and drama director and producer. He led humanities and writing workshops at the local, regional, and national levels, including at the Massachusetts Association for Bilingual Education’s annual convention. He also spent 35 years with the Hampton (N.H.) Playhouse as an actor and entertainment director.

Wasylean has contributed generously to a scholarship that honors his class—as well as other classes—at reunion time. His goal is to have every class from the 1960s create an endowed scholarship for future students. He has given more than $30,000 in reunion giving, some in the form of matching gifts to inspire other alumni to follow his example.

In recognition of his exceptional loyalty, commitment, and dedication to WSU and its students, he was given the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award for Outstanding Service to Alma Mater. Wasylean Hall was named in his honor in 2004.

The Worcester State Foundation also honored Wasylean with the 2015 I. Robert Freelander Award in recognition of his dedication to the ideals, principles, spirit, and benevolence of the late I. Robert Freelander.

In 2009, the Fuller Theater in the Shaughnessy Administration Building was dedicated to the Fuller family in recognition of the extraordinary generosity of the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, an independent foundation that supports education, culture, history, health care, youth, religious organizations, social agencies, and schools in the Worcester area. The Wellness Center atrium is also named for the Fullers in recognition of their vital support of this new heart of campus.

Janice Fuller was on the Assumption College Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2013. She is the treasurer of First Congregational Church Boylston and a director and treasurer of Calliope Productions in Boylston. Her connection to WSU also runs in the family—her father, Anthony Thurston, was a professor of biology at Worcester State for more than two decades.

Mark Fuller currently serves on the boards of the Barton Center for Diabetes Education, Worcester Education Collaborative and Worcester Art Museum. He is a member of the Servant Leadership Team at FCC Boylston. He is the past board chairman of the EcoTarium and the YMCA of Central Massachusetts. He is a “Trustee Emeritus” of MCPHS University and past president of Worcester Country Club. Mark also received the Isaiah Thomas award for 2013.