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Paul Cartwright

Paul Cartwright

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Paul Cartwright, forever a Gopher and beloved professor

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW
  • Star Tribune
  • June 3, 2009 - 9:38 PM

When it came time for college, the University of Minnesota was the only school that Paul Cartwright ever considered. He enrolled there as an undergraduate in the mid-1930s and returned to spend 37 years as an instructor and assistant dean for student affairs of the Institute of Technology's College of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Mathematics.

"The university was near and dear to his heart," said his daughter-in-law, Eileen Cartwright, of Burnsville. "He was very proud of the fact that he was a professor at the U, and he'd tell people. Minnesota was special to him."

On Sunday, when he died of lung cancer at Mount Olivet Home in Minneapolis at age 93, he had a University of Minnesota blanket at his bedside and team pennants on the wall, she said.

Cartwright had distinguished himself as a student, and one of his former professors invited him to teach Navy recruits to become electricians' mates. From 1942 to 1946, Cartwright trained more than 5,000 recruits through the university's Naval Training School, a program of which he became assistant director.

Following World War II, Cartwright became a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, placement director for the Institute of Technology and, in 1964, assistant dean.

Cartwright introduced changes in student counseling activities, increased student retention rates and created innovative tutoring programs that continue to benefit students today, said Mostafa Kaveh, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the U.

"He was loved by students," he said. "You met him, and he had the most wonderful smile and glitter in his eyes, even into his 90s. It just captured you. I see why students would have loved to interact with him. He was friendly and concerned [for their well-being]."

In a letter sent earlier this year to Cartwright's family, university President Robert Bruininks wrote, "Your dedication has significantly strengthened the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Institute of Technology, and the university as a whole, and your extraordinary legacy of service will continue to be of benefit for generations to come."

Cartwright retired in 1979, but continued to team-teach courses for another decade. He received several honors during his career, including the Horace Morse Award in 1968 for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education, and the Public Service Award from the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1972. The Paul Cartwright/IT Alumni Society Award is presented annually to one student who demonstrates outstanding scholarship and service to the university.

Outside the classroom, Cartwright liked genealogy and published a book that traces his family roots back to the 1600s. The book is on view at the Morris Historical Society in Morris, Minn., where he graduated from high school.

He also enjoyed spending summers with his grandchildren at his cabin at Lake Washburn north of Brainerd, Minn. In his early years, he collected stamps and rocks, like to fish and hunt, and take his sons to U football and basketball games, Eileen Cartwright said.

In addition to his daughter-in-law, Cartwright is survived by his wife of 70 years, Elizabeth, of Minneapolis; two sons, Paul of Bloomington and William of Burnsville; seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today at Mount Olivet Home, 5517 Lyndale Av. S., Minneapolis. A gathering will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the nursing home.

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