By Max Dickstein
Anchoring Wagner College’s science and mathematics programs, the estate of Warren Procci ’68 H’17 has bequeathed $2 million to create the Warren R. Procci, M.D., Chair in Sciences in honor of Otto and Linda Raths.
“This gift and the position it endows represent a tremendous moment for our institution,” said Wagner College President Angelo Araimo. “The extraordinary generosity of the Procci family will allow us to further expand our STEM offerings while honoring beloved alumni and professors.”
The gift from Procci, the former Wagner College Board of Trustees chair who passed away this summer, and his wife, Linda Procci, is in honor of former Wagner College professor of physics Otto Raths, who taught Procci and several more generations of Wagner students, and former professor of biology Linda Raths, who joined her husband in retirement this past summer.
The titleholder of the Procci Chair will also be the college’s inaugural division chair of science and mathematics; a national search for this role is currently active.
“This gift gives us renewed momentum in our search for a STEM-focused academic leader to champion growth in our science and math programs and elevate the work of our faculty,” said Provost Tarshia Stanley. Vice Provost Nick Richardson currently serves as the interim division chair while the search is underway.
“Warren was an eminent alumnus of Wagner, a wonderful and generous guy, and an excellent student,” said the 87-year-old Otto Raths, who taught on Grymes Hill from 1964 until his retirement in 2018 and visited with the Proccis at frequent social occasions throughout the years.
Procci, a celebrated Los Angeles psychiatrist, once came back east to celebrate his 70th birthday at Wagner’s faculty dining room, Raths recalled. Unexpectedly, Raths said, Procci stood up and announced, “Otto Raths was the best teacher I had in high school, in college, or medical school.”
Added Raths with a laugh: “And he wasn’t even a physics major!”
During his retirement, Raths has embodied the teaching-first philosophy of Wagner, making himself available as a tutor and substitute lecturer.
“I’ve always felt that learning is fun if you do it the right way,” Raths said.