At times, Ladimer Nagurney ’72 feels as if he’s never grown up.
“Dealing with college students each day as a professor makes me feel only a bit older than they are,” says Nagurney, professor of electrical, computer, and biomedical engineering at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn. “I try to make my classes as exciting as the ones that I took at Lafayette. It’s also lots of fun mentoring students on their projects. I have to pinch and remind myself that I am actually being paid to have so much fun on a daily basis.”
A physics graduate, Nagurney rattles off the names of a host of esteemed Lafayette professors from different disciplines who influenced him on the path to his career, which now includes serving as program director of electrical and computer engineering at the university and as internship coordinator of its College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture.
“Lafayette gave me the confidence to try a lot of new things,” he says. “This is one of the big advantages of being educated at a liberal arts college such as Lafayette.”
His undergraduate experience has motivated Nagurney to serve as class fund manager since his 15th reunion and to donate consistently to the College.
“Like most institutions, Lafayette cannot exist solely on tuition income,” he says. “It takes a village, a major part of which are the alumni, to raise funds for the College.”
He’s “very excited” about the College’s Live Connected, Lead Change campaign.
“Lafayette has really come a long way from the relatively small set of buildings when I was there to the beautiful campus that it is now,” he says. “The campaign will allow Lafayette to assume its proper role as one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the U.S. for the 21st century.”
Some of his most memorable college experiences came outside the classroom. For example, he recalls sitting in a TV room, watching General Lewis Hershey pick the first draft numbers for the Vietnam War.
“One of the other fellows in my dorm, who was just about ready to flunk out of Lafayette, received number 1 and would most likely have been immediately drafted,” Nagurney says. “There was just silence in the room after the number was announced, and none of us who had high draft numbers were interested in partying after the picks were complete.”
Then there was winter break of his junior year, when he traveled to the national convention of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity founded at Lafayette. Since the College had just become coed, Nagurney made a motion on the floor for the organization to include women as well. The motion was voted down, but an identical one passed at the next year’s convention.
The next year, he says, he gained a broad perspective as the only science student in the McKelvy House Scholars Program. Nagurney had visited his cousin, Jack Marchalonis ’62, when the senior was a resident of the just-established McKelvy House, not knowing that 10 years later, he would be living in almost the same room.
Now he sees Lafayette through the eyes of his daughter, geology major Allie Nagurney ’16, who’s making the most of her time on College Hill. She has had three summers of transformative experiences working with Lafayette’s Technology Clinic on the “veggie van” for Easton’s West Ward. She’s traveled to Wyoming to conduct field studies for a geology course, researched the environmental impacts of fracking at the University of Colorado, Boulder through the National Science Foundation, and served an internship at the Lunar Planetary Institute in Houston. She’s also the coxswain for the crew team, an officer in Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, and served as a First-Year Orientation leader.
“We could not be more pleased with the experiences that Alexandra has had at Lafayette,” says Nagurney. “I never in my wildest dreams thought that Lafayette could attract faculty as legendary as the ones who taught me, but I was wrong. They are outstanding as scholars, teachers, and mentors.”