Inside Rensselaer
EMPAC Steering Committee Established
In October, Rensselaer will celebrate the grand opening of the new Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center with a series of gala events, concerts, performances, interactive artworks, presentations, and film screenings. A Presidential Colloquy, featuring discussion of the nexus of the arts, the sciences, and technology, will be held on Friday, Oct. 3. Performances, lectures, social events, and a symposium focusing on the scientific research at EMPAC will elaborate upon the potential of the building and its program for Rensselaer, the Capital Region, and the national and international arts and scientific communities.

“The events that make up this celebration, and the activities that will occur in EMPAC in the weeks and months thereafter, present opportunities for us to bring exciting new cultural, research, and academic resources to the faculty, students, and staff of Rensselaer, to the Capital Region community, the larger Rensselaer family, the nation, and the world,” said President Jackson in a memo to campus.

The president has established a Steering Committee of senior administrators to work together with EMPAC Director Johannes Goebel and his staff to inaugurate EMPAC through its grand opening, and to provide on-going guidance in the development and implementation of the artistic, academic, research, and student life-related programs of the center.

The membership of the EMPAC Steering Committee is as follows: Laban Coblentz, associate vice president for policy and planning (and chief of staff to the president), chair; Johannes Goebel, director of EMPAC, co-chair; Donald Fry, vice president for institute advancement; Eddie Ade Knowles, vice president for student life; John Kolb ’79, vice president for information services and technology and chief information officer; James Nondorf, vice president for enrollment; Robert Palazzo, provost; Claude Rounds, vice president for administration; Wolf von Maltzahn, acting vice president for research; Oleh Turczak, assistant vice president for capital projects; William Walker, vice president for strategic communications and external relations; Alan Balfour, dean of architecture; Alan Cramb, dean of engineering; David Gautschi, dean of the Lally School of Management and Technology; John Harrington, dean of humanities and social sciences; and Wei Zhao, dean of science.

The committee will pursue its support of EMPAC in two ways:

  • It will support the planning for the grand opening events through a committee structure that will bring to bear the necessary resources for the full range of events that will produce a successful celebration.
  • It will provide ongoing guidance to the EMPAC staff to ensure that the resources of EMPAC are utilized to create world-class artistic, research, academic, and student life programs within a unique technological, physical, virtual, and computational environment.

A subcommittee, chaired by William Walker and co-chaired by Johannes Goebel, will work closely with the EMPAC staff to plan the events associated with the October grand opening period, and the internal and external communications support they will require.

The Steering Committee will oversee the development of the academic and research programs that capitalize on the existence of EMPAC as a new platform. With the opening of EMPAC, Rensselaer will have in place a network of platforms unparalleled in higher education — a Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies that provides outstanding scientific research facilities, an Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center that provides unique programming and research opportunities at the intersection of the arts, the sciences, and technology, and a Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations that provides the most powerful university-based supercomputing capacity in the world. The Steering Committee also will be responsible for ensuring that EMPAC’s contributions to new student life programs provide opportunities for students to engage in unique opportunities developed by EMPAC artistic and research staff, which optimize use of the many resources that will be available through the facility.

“In order to realize the potential the unique new resource of EMPAC will bring, the Steering Committee will rely heavily on the ideas and assistance of the entire Rensselaer community,” President Jackson said. “I ask that everyone serve as partners in the effort, and that we come together as a community to share in the celebration of this significant time in the history of the Institute, and that we employ our collective creativity to secure EMPAC as the extraordinarily unique resource that it is, and to position Rensselaer as the world-class technological research university it is.”

To learn more about EMPAC and the opening celebration, go to

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 2, January 31, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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