Gordon in the News: last updated 10/24/2008

Computer Pioneer Ken Olsen Donates Personal Archives to Gordon College's New Science Center

Sept. 8, 2008

Jo Kadlecek
Office of College Communication

WENHAM, MA--While the Ken Olsen Science Center is the newest addition on Gordon College's campus, its connection to the past is evident throughout the uniquely designed building.

Named after one of the twentieth century's pioneers in computer science and co-founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), the Science Center marks the first time Mr. Olsen has agreed to have his name associated with a building and will be dedicated Sat. Sept. 27 at 11:00 a.m. In the spring of 2007, Mr. Olsen also gave his personal archives to Gordon College. They contain thousands of his manuscripts, personal letters, business memos as well as the technology produced at DEC, which contributed to the technological revolution of the twentieth century. While some of DEC's more technological archives were donated to the Computer History Museum that is now in Mountain View, CA, Gordon College now has the most complete collection of the company's historical documentation.
The Ken Olsen Science Center will house three museum-quality displays that serve as a reminder of the legacy on which the building stands. Located in the Center's lobby, the three exhibits will feature technological artifacts, images and manuscripts that highlight Mr. Olsen's archives. Since the acquisition, the College has worked to digitize the contents of his archives, translating key artifacts into interactive display cases that educate visitors about Mr. Olsen's legacy and DEC. Already the archives have been used as references by researchers such as Business Week's Spencer E. Ante for his recently released book, Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital, the biography of venture capitalist, General Georges Doriot.

"We view it as a privilege and an honor to have the archives," said Daniel Tymann, Executive VP for Communication and Technology. "I think Ken realized it would mean a lot to us and that we would treasure and use them in a way he would want."

Gordon College's relationship with Mr. Olsen has spanned nearly a half-century. In 1961, Olsen was so impressed with the openness with which science is taught at the school as well as with the critical thinking and empirical approaches of the faculty that he joined the College's Board of Trustees. "It has been evident that Gordon strives to graduate students who feel at ease with science, economics and the humanities while holding on to their faith," he said.

The displays offer visitors a view of Mr. Olsen's commitment to the integration of science and faith while the building itself reflects the college's shared commitment of this vision. Overlooking Gordon College's coy pond, the science building has an expansive 80,000 sq. ft. floor plan that incorporates the outdoors into the architecture of the building while giving a nod to nature with eco-friendly plumbing and electrical systems. These unique aspects include: scheduled plumbing and lighting; low mercury T5 fluorescent lighting; "daylight" and occupancy sensor lighting; waterless urinals and adjustable flushing valves, and high efficiency, natural gas hot water boilers.

Following a weeklong celebration in which the College will host renowned scientists, artists, scholars, entrepreneurs and theologians, Gordon College will dedicate the Ken Olsen Science Center, Sept. 27th at 11:00 a.m.  Dr. Francis Collins, one of the nation's leading experts on DNA, will lecture immediately after on "Genomics and the Human Condition." The event is free and open to all.

For more information on any of the events during the Ken Olsen Science Center dedication week, please visit the Ken Olsen Science Center Dedication page. To request an interview or additional information, please contact the Office of College Communications at 978.867.4235.


Gordon College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston's North Shore. The college offers majors in 37 fields and has graduate programs in education and music education. Leading the way in Christian college merit, Gordon is nationally ranked for its excellence in academics and its role in character building. These achievements recognize Gordon as one of the nation's top Christian colleges.