Inside Rensselaer
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An Overview of Rensselaer’s 205th Commencement

Celebrating the Class of 2011

This year, 1,700 students will receive degrees from Rensselaer on Saturday, May 28, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the East Campus Athletic Village (ECAV) stadium. They represent the next generation of leaders, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, patent holders, game designers, and innovators, in fields ranging from engineering to architecture, from fine arts to science, from game design to information technology, and from business to the military.

During the Institute’s 205th Commencement ceremony, Rensselaer will award a total of 1,866 degrees. They include 398 master’s degrees, 130 doctoral degrees, and 1,338 bachelor’s degrees. Some graduates have earned more than one degree.

Note: All numbers include both August and December 2010 graduated students as well as Troy and distance applicants who are not “ceremony only” students. All numbers cited are as of May 18, and are subject to change.

Highlights of the Class of 2011
In 2007, more than 1,300 students came to the Rensselaer campus as incoming freshmen. The class included 404 women, roughly 30 percent of the class. Students hailed from 38 states including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and countries all around the world. Within the class, 102 were valedictorians or salutatorians in high school. Eighty-two had perfect 800 SAT verbal or math scores while three had perfect 1600 scores. Sixty-five percent were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes and the middle 50 percent range on SATs is 1250-1430. Continuing a Rensselaer legacy, 121 are the sons or daughters, grandsons or granddaughters of Rensselaer graduates. In addition, 84 students were captains of athletic teams in high school — and more importantly, 753 participated in sporting activities overall.

A Global Community
In 2011, Rensselaer’s graduating students come from more than 42 states, in addition to New York. The Class of 2011 also contains graduates from 39 other nations, including: Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, Ecuador, Kuwait, India, Ireland, Pakistan, Peru, Russian Federation, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey.

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The Commencement Speaker Is...
U.S. Surgeon General and Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin — one of the world’s leading experts on public health and a key player in the national debate on health care reform — will deliver the 2011 Commencement Address. As “America’s Doctor,” Dr. Benjamin plays a critical role in providing the American public with the best scientific information available on how to improve health. Since her appointment by President Barack Obama in 2009, she has been a forceful leader in the national effort to migrate the United States health care system from one focused on sick care to one targeting wellness and prevention of illness. Dr. Benjamin will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the ceremony.

Honorary Degree Recipients
Additionally, G. Wayne Clough, the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, will receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree. Clough has envisioned a new era for the Smithsonian, expanding its global relevance and helping the nation shape its future through research, education, and scientific discovery on major topics of the day. Samuel Heffner Jr. ’56, who launched a career in the real estate development business that has spanned nearly 50 years, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Heffner is the founder and president of Dickinson-Heffner Inc., a building and land development firm in the Baltimore region. Heffner was a member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees for 33 years and served as board chair for 15 years, retiring in December 2010.

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Class President
Class President Jeremie Carlson, a student who majored in biology, also will address the class. The Schenectady, N.Y., native says that his degree represents an education deeply rooted in both theory and research. As an undergraduate student, he participated in the undergraduate research program, and worked in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies lab of Douglas Swank, assistant professor of biology. The group studies how muscles have evolved to power many different functions including locomotion and pumping blood.

At Rensselaer, as class president, Carlson worked alongside the Class Council representing the Class of 2011 to increase school pride. He also carved out time to serve in several other organizations. Following graduation, Carlson will travel to Europe for most of the summer. He also plans to work in a clinical or research environment that will utilize his background in biology, and then apply to medical school.

Game On!
The Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) program was launched in the fall of 2007 to provide a comprehensive understanding of interactive digital media, a balance of disciplinary competencies, and the mastery of a self-defined set of interrelated disciplinary challenges at the nation’s oldest technical institute. GSAS has been named among the top 15 out of 150 undergraduate game design programs in the United States and Canada, according to a new survey from the Princeton Review. Since its inception, 13 students who matriculated into the program have graduated. However, on May 28, the program will graduate its first full class, comprised of 20 students. Within the group, 16 students were also dual majors in computer science, electronic arts, management, physics, and psychology.

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Rensselaer’s Own
This year, eight Rensselaer employees and three employee spouses are graduating. Fourteen children of Rensselaer employees also are graduating.

A Substantial Legacy
The Rensselaer degree is well-known throughout the world as a symbol of technological excellence and achievement. Rensselaer alumni are leaders. They are collaborative, able, and smart. This year, 127 members of the Class of 2011 are Rensselaer “legacies,” students with relatives who attended the university.

Continuing Academic Excellence
Many graduates will continue their studies after graduation. Among the schools that graduates will be attending are: Albany Medical College, Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Harvard University, Imperial College (London), Indiana University School of Medicine, Purdue University, Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg (Germany), University of British Columbia, Villanova University, Yale University, and Rensselaer.

Hot Jobs!
As the effects of the economic downturn continue to be felt, job market news looks positive in all regions for Class of 2011 graduates, according to a new survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Employers who took part in NACE’s Job Outlook 2011 Fall Preview survey expect to hire 13.5 percent more new graduates from the Class of 2011 than they hired last year.

Preliminary results indicate that, despite the economic downturn, Rensselaer students — in all areas of study, including management, humanities, social sciences, information technology, and engineering—are still getting good jobs within the Capital Region, across the nation, and overseas. Graduates will work for companies that include: Bank of America, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cisco Systems, FactSet Research Systems, GE, General Dynamics, Global Foundries, Procter & Gamble, RBC Bearings, United Technologies Corporation, and ZS Associates.

“Today’s employers have put an increased emphasis on experiential opportunities as a pipeline to full-time professional employment,” said Tom Tarantelli, director of the Center for Career and Professional Development. “This is what gives a student the competitive edge when it comes to landing a full-time job. Despite market dynamics, Rensselaer graduates have always proven to be resilient and resourceful.”

* Alumni Hockey Weekend To Celebrate ’85 NCAA Championship Team
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Student Service, Leadership, Scholarship Honored
At the May 26 Class of 2011 Zero Year Brunch and Awards Celebration, several graduating seniors were honored for their contributions to the Institute. The Willie Stanton Award, presented to the senior(s) judged to have contributed the most in service to the student body, was awarded to Kyle Mattson, a mechanical engineering major from Honey Brook, Pa. The Livingston W. Houston Citizenship Award, honoring the “first citizen of the college,” ranking high in character, leadership, scholarship, and athletic ability, was awarded to John Kennedy, captain of the men’s hockey team, and a chemical engineering major from Saginaw, Mich. The Leopold L. Balleisen Prize, honoring a senior student athlete who has won a varsity letter in at least one sport during two undergraduate years and who stands highest academically in the senior class, was awarded to Chas Mitchell, a member of the cross country team, and a chemical engineering major from Fairhaven, Mass.

Parting Gift
Each year at Commencement, the graduating class presents the university with a gift. The Class of 2011 is excited to present a much-needed resting place for students and members of the campus to enjoy in the years to come. Eleven benches now line the tree-lined promenade area of the ’86 Field that features curved walkways crossing the field that maximize the field area for informal play. The new benches are backless so that individuals can sit facing the sun if desired and watch activity on the field. Members of the Class of 2011 have already raised more than $4,000 to support the bench installation. To date, 90 members of the class, representing 8 percent, have donated to the project. In addition, 15 students became Patroons of Rensselaer with their gifts of $100 or more.

Darrin Counseling Award
Bimal K. Malaviya, professor in the department of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, has been selected as the 37th recipient of the David M. Darrin ’40 Counseling Award, which will be presented during the Commencement ceremony. The award was established by David M. Darrin ’40 to recognize a faculty member who has made an unusual contribution in the counseling of undergraduate students. The selection of the award recipient is made by Phalanx, Rensselaer’s student leadership honorary society. One nominator wrote, “with over 45 years dedicated to student advising, counseling, and mentoring at Rensselaer, he has demonstrated special concern for the welfare of undergraduate students.”

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 10, May 27, 2011
©2011 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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