A Tribute to
Samuel Heffner Jr. ’56
After more than three decades of service on the Rensselaer Board of Trustees, including 15 years as chairman, Samuel Heffner Jr. ’56 retired from the board at the end of 2010. Members of the Rensselaer community and special guests gathered for an evening of celebration in honor of Heffner on Dec. 9 at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center.
The celebration included a holiday concert by the Festival Chorus, made up of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of Rensselaer, who performed music of the season from around the world and concluded with the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The chorus was accompanied by a professional orchestra and soloists, under the direction of John Minasian, vice president and dean of the Hartford campus.
In addition to the concert, the evening included a skit with two actors portraying Rensselaer historic figures Palmer Ricketts and B.F. Greene, followed by tributes from members of the Rensselaer community, including President Shirley Ann Jackson; David Haviland ’64, former vice president of institute advancement; two of Heffner’s classmates and fraternity brothers, Trustee John Broadbent ’59 and Peter Goetz ’56; Trustee Nicholas Donofrio ’67; and the new board chairman, Art Gajarsa ’62.
“Leader. Partner. Builder. Philanthropist,” President Jackson said in her remarks. “In your program, you will see in some detail the many accomplishments and contributions of Samuel F. Heffner Jr., Rensselaer Class of 1956. But I can tell you that there are other words I would use to describe Mr. Heffner: Visionary. Doer. Reliable supporter. And most important: Friend.”
“It is my great pleasure to congratulate Sam Heffner tonight on behalf of my colleagues on the Board of Trustees of this great university,” said Gajarsa. “The most succinct statement I can make is this: Chairman Heffner, because you have been a part of all of our lives, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a far, far better place.
“Sam, there are many parts of the Rensselaer community represented here tonight: parents, students, alumni and alumnae, faculty, staff, administrators, and your fellow board members,” Gajarsa said. “We all have benefited from your decades of leadership, and we all owe you a debt of gratitude.”
Gajarsa then invited the entire Rensselaer Board of Trustees to join him on stage; together, they recognized Heffner’s service to Rensselaer by granting him the titles of Honorary Trustee and Honorary Chairman and presented him with a special Trustee Medallion.
Heffner responded by expressing his “extreme gratitude” to those present and to Rensselaer. “All my career I have been proud of my Rensselaer degree and the heritage it represents,” he said. “It has been the singular honor of my life to serve on this board.”