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Winthrop Receives Funding for Speaker Series

By Petey E. Menz, Crimson Staff Writer

Winthrop’s Senior Common Room Speaker Series will receive funding from the David B. Perini and Robert W. Woods Memorial Endowment Fund, established by Winthrop House alumni John J. Cullinane ’86 and William N. Thorndike ’86 to commemorate their deceased roommates.

The series will feature congressional candidate Joe Kennedy III as its inaugural speaker and has been renamed in honor of Perini ’86 and Woods ’86.

“Stephanie and I wish to extend a special thanks to John Cullinane and Will Thorndike for their generosity and for their dedication to and love for Winthrop House,” Winthrop House Master Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. wrote in an email to Winthrop residents. “We pledge to work diligently to ensure that this endowed speaker series well serves the memory of David Perini and Bob Woods.”

The SCR speaker series was a major project undertaken by Sullivan and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, during their tenure as Co-House Masters, and has featured many prominent speakers.

“We’ve had everyone from politicians to magicians, quite literally,” Sullivan said. “We’ve had everybody from Noam Chomsky to one end and Grover Norquist at the other end of the political spectrum.”

Kennedy, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and son of former Congressman Joseph Kennedy II. His campaign in Mass. Fourth District marks the first foray into politics by the youngest generation of the famed Massachusetts political family.

According to Winthrop House Committee Co-Chair Lauren E. Tiedemann ’13, Winthrop’s SCR speaker series are highly popular amongst undergraduates. Although the events are capped at fifteen attendees, they are frequently over-enrolled.

Sullivan said that the endowment will allow for greater flexibility within the speaker series. Brian Wright O’Connor ’78, who has worked with Winthrop House tutor Luke A. Leafgren to organize the series, shared these views, adding that the endowment would allow Winthrop to give speakers overnight lodging.

“Not everyone we want is here on other business or has the resources to travel independently. It’s nice to have a budget,” O’Connor said. “That’s very generous of Messrs. Cullinane and Thorndike.”

—Staff writer Petey E. Menz can be reached at

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