Inside Rensselaer
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Focus on: The 2009 Commencement Celebration
On May 16, nearly 1,900 students received degrees from Rensselaer at the 203rd Commencement ceremony, held on the Harkness Field. They represent the next generation of leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, patent holders, and innovators, in fields ranging from engineering to architecture, from fine arts to science, and from business to the military.

During the ceremony, the Institute awarded 1,147 bachelor’s degrees, 621 master’s degrees, and 166 doctoral degrees.

Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson charged the Class of 2009 to be bold and innovative, even in the face of global turbulence and uncertainty, as they venture forth into the next chapter of their lives.

“The world is facing enormous, even critical challenges, and they lend certain urgency to the idea of progress. However, all of you find yourselves in the fortunate position of having been educated to contribute to that progress — indeed, to direct and to shape it,” President Jackson said. “Times like this, also, are liberating for the world at large, as we shake loose outmoded ways of thinking, which have caused our current crises. Fortunately, we are also in the midst of a great new age of discovery, as thinkers across a broad milieu work to solve the large problems that confront us — thinkers like you,” she said. 

In addition, four distinguished guests also received honorary degrees and took part in the President’s Commencement Colloquy as part of the celebration.

Kenneth Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer of the American Express Company, provided the colloquy’s opening remarks, defining the qualities of leadership. The other honorands were: Peter Schwartz ’68, an internationally renowned futurist, business strategist, and author, who is co-founder and Chairman of Global Business Network; Samuel Josefowitz ’42, an entrepreneur, chemical engineer, and prominent art collector and art expert, who for many years led the Swiss-based mail order book and record club business he created and pioneered; and Robert Richardson, Ph.D., Nobel Prize winner in physics (1996), who is the F.R. Newman Professor of Physics and Vice Provost for Research, Emeritus, at Cornell University. 

Slideshow photos by Kris Qua and Scott Barrow.

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Send comments to:
Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
1000 Troy Building, 110 Eighth Street, Troy, N.Y. 12180 or to leibat@rpi.edu.
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 3, Number 6, June 12, 2009
©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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