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Lowell Observatory Sole Trustee W. Lowell Putnam to Receive Honorary Doctorate

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=”Feb 20, 2020 Update:”]As of February 2020, The Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) is now known as the Lowell Discovery Telescope (LDT).[/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Northern Arizona University (NAU) is awarding W. Lowell Putnam an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Putnam will also give the commencement address to the Business & Health and Human Services graduates. Putnam is the great-grandnephew of Percival Lowell, who founded Lowell Observatory in 1894. He is currently serving as the observatory’s 5th Sole Trustee, having succeeded his father, Bill, in 2013.

Putnam is a retired businessman. In 1984, he founded Video Communications, Inc. (VCI), a software company specializing in business systems for television networks, cable channels and local television stations. Clients included The Weather Channel, Comcast, Univision, and about 25% of the television stations in the United States and Canada. Putnam sold the company in 2010 and became the Trust Administrator for Lowell Observatory.

He is a general partner in Faraway Investments, a former trustee of the Springfield (MA) Nursery and a former director of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts. He currently serves as a director of PeopleHedge Corp. and one of seven members of the Board of Trustees of the Lowell Observatory Foundation.

Putnam and his spouse, Kimberly, have two children and they oversee a 70-year old family-founded scholarship fund. He holds a B.S. in Psychology from American International College in Massachusetts and is a Life Member of the American Alpine Club and The Nature Conservancy.

This award reinforces the century-long association between NAU and Lowell Observatory. For years, the observatory has awarded the Lowell Prize to an NAU graduate earning a bachelor’s degree who has maintained the highest average in scholarship during four years of residence. It was established in the early 1900s by Percival Lowell’s widow, Constance, as a memorial to her husband. NAU annually presents another award, the Vesto M. Slipher Scholarship (named after longtime observatory astronomer Vesto Melvin Slipher) to an outstanding junior chemistry major.

In 1960 the university, then known as Arizona State College, presented an honorary Doctor of Science degree to Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto at Lowell Observatory in 1930. More recently, NAU serves as one of the partner institutions of Lowell Observatory’s Discovery Channel Telescope, the 5th largest telescope in the continental United States and located 40 miles southeast of Flagstaff.

Putnam said, “I am pleased and very appreciative of this honor from NAU, and am happy to accept it on behalf of myself and the four sole trustees who preceded me.  NAU and Lowell have worked together well through the years and I look forward to even more collaboration and discovery in the years ahead.”

Putnam will receive the award during NAU’s spring commencement ceremony on May 12 inside the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome.

Media Contact: 
Kevin Schindler
Lowell Observatory
(928) 607-1387
kevin@lowell.edu