Inside Rensselaer
Robert Palazzo Appointed Provost
President Shirley Ann Jackson updated alumni on the Renaissance at Rensselaer — from the university’s top rankings and record admissions applications to its global partnerships, award-winning research, and historic financial support — during her address on the State of the Institute 2007.

Jackson delivered the annual remarks June 9 as part of the Reunion 2007 celebration. A popular Reunion weekend tradition, the State of the Institute address gives President Jackson the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of the past year and to share the Institute’s plans for the future with those who are “the beneficiaries and the bearers of this legacy.”

She pointed to significant progress in realizing the objectives of The Rensselaer Plan. “At my inauguration as Rensselaer’s 18th president, almost eight years ago, I stated that greatness in a university demands that we create a ‘fully realized technological university.’ By this, I meant that in order to innovate, and to offer a world-class educational experience, we must build on our traditional strengths, as we excel in all of our disciplines—in terms of teaching and of research. This idea also encompasses student life, recognizing that a world-class experience also must include an environment and community that nurtures, supports, and enables our young people to achieve and to excel. In the last year, we have made significant strides toward this vision. Indeed, we are now in a new era at the Institute,” Jackson said, “achieving beyond our ambitious goals in the plan.”

The State of the Institute address gives President Jackson the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of the past year and to share the Institute’s plans for the future with those who are “the beneficiaries and bearers of this legacy.”
As a result, Rensselaer is attracting — and retaining — high caliber students in record numbers. More than 10,100 students applied to Rensselaer this past year. The freshmen-to-sophomore retention rate has reached an all-time high of 94 percent, in part because of the award-winning Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond program and the Office of the First-Year Experience.

The Institute has had similar success in attracting stellar faculty who are engaged in leading-edge research. In the past seven years, Rensselaer has hired 180 new faculty members, 73 into new positions. An additional 43 hires are planned for fiscal year 2008.

Included among the faculty are more than 40 winners of the prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER), which is presented to faculty members at the beginning of their academic careers. In addition, Professor Burt Swersey, a lecturer in the department of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, was awarded the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award. President Jackson and Gwo-Ching Wang, department chair and professor of physics, were both elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Outside investment also has reached historic levels. Last year, for example, the Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education (PACE) provided Rensselaer with its largest in-kind contribution ever: computer-assisted design and prototyping software valued at about $514 million. A philanthropic initiative of General Motors, EDS, Sun Microsystems and UGS Corp., PACE supports key academic institutions worldwide by providing computer-based design tools. The software that was given to Rensselaer is used in industry and leading research and development centers such as the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is now installed on students’ laptops and is in use in Rensselaer classrooms.

Looking ahead, President Jackson outlined efforts to foster international partnerships to prepare Rensselaer students to assume their place as global leaders. One goal is to enable every undergraduate to study abroad through international co-op, internship and research opportunities; semesters at foreign universities; and summer semesters overseas, led by Rensselaer faculty.

To support these and other initiatives, Rensselaer will continue with its ambitious plans to increase the endowment to $1 billion.

“We must have the resources to compete for the best faculty and students, and for important research awards, with the best universities, which have much larger endowments,” Jackson said. “We must move forward with confidence, with vision, and with the firm conviction that we will change the world as we have in the past.”

To view the Town Meeting presentation, go to:

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 1, Number 1, July 2007
©2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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