Trinity Honors the Leadership and Legacy of Roy Nutt '53

Mathematics, Engineering & Computer Science Center Named in Honor of Computer Pioneer

When Micah Nutt was a student at Trinity College in the 1980s, his father asked how he would feel if the school were to put his family’s name on a building. Not that comfortable, Micah thought. He was proud of his father’s devotion to his alma mater—serving as a trustee and making gifts to fund scholarships, faculty support, and campus facilities—however, while attending Trinity, he thought it would be embarrassing to have a building named for his dad.

(L-R) Paul E. Raether '68, P'93, '96, '01, Chairman of the Trinity College Board of Trustees; Dean of Faculty Rena Fraden; President James F. Jones, Jr.; Micah Nutt '85; Sarah Nutt Papageorge; Tom Nutt; Bram Nutt; Bob Nutt; and David Papageorge. Photo by John Marinelli.

“I always felt bad about saying no,” Micah Nutt admitted to the crowd that gathered May 18 for the dedication of the Roy Nutt Mathematics, Engineering & Computer Science Center at Trinity. But now, along with his three siblings, he was pleased to be back on campus to be part of the official naming of the 48,000-square-foot, César Pelli-designed building, which originally opened in 1991.

 It was clear that Roy Nutt, a 1953 Trinity graduate with a degree in mathematics, felt he had a pivotal experience at the College, said Micah Nutt. “My father truly believed his success was made possible by Trinity faculty, students, and a class he took with United Aircraft engineers.” He added, “I hope that he will be an inspiration to Trinity students through his accomplishments.”

Roy Nutt, who died in 1990, was an early expert in computer systems programming. He was a co-creator of IBM's FORTRAN compiler, the first high-level scientific and engineering programming language. Nutt was co-founder of Computer Sciences Corporation, which today is known as CSC, a worldwide company with 98,000 employees and reported revenue of $16 billion.

Born in Marlborough, Massachusetts, he grew up in Glastonbury, CT. His introduction to computers took place both on Trinity’s campus and at the United Aircraft (UA) research department’s East Hartford laboratory. He spent the summer between junior and senior years working at the lab, feeding punch cards into calculators and becoming so familiar with binary coding that he could read punch cards by sight. He worked full-time at UA his senior year and by graduation was a shift supervisor with eight other Trinity students reporting to him. For the next six years, he supervised research in the UA Machine Computation laboratory and also shared his knowledge with Trinity undergraduates as a part-time instructor of mathematics.

Trinity President James F. Jones, Jr., said that he thought naming the important academic center for Roy Nutt would influence Trinity students in two ways: “First, as evidence and inspiration to future generations of the benefit of hard work, determination, and an entrepreneurial spirit; second, as an example of the importance of philanthropy and giving back to the organizations that have helped shape your education or career.”

Jones said that the transformational support Roy Nutt and his wife, Ruth, provided for the College had created ripple effects for students spanning more than 20 years—including the leadership gift from the Nutts in the 1980s that propelled the Mathematics, Engineering & Computer Science Center building project to originally move forward, as well as Ruth Nutt’s leadership support in the 1990s for the renovation and expansion of what would become the Raether Library and Information Technology Center.

Both Roy and Ruth Nutt served as Trinity trustees, and Roy was a 1988 recipient of Trinity’s Eigenbrodt Cup, the highest award that can be presented to an alumnus. Dozens of members of the family traveled from around the country to take part in the May 18 dedication ceremony. Among the attendees were Ruth and Roy’s children, Micah Nutt ’85, Tom Nutt, Bob Nutt, and Sarah Nutt Papageorge, as well as grandsons Bram Nutt and David Papageorge, who planted a commemorative tree on the lawn in front of the building named for their grandfather, to symbolize the future, and the growth and vitality of the College, its students, and academic programs.

Photos from the May 18 dedication of the Roy Nutt Mathematics, Engineering & Computer Science Center are posted here:

View the program from the event here.