The Rensselaer Club Works To Promote Friendships
and Support Community
Founded nearly 76 years ago, the Rensselaer Club, formerly known as the Women’s Club of RPI, has worked to promote and foster fellowship among the families of employees at Rensselaer. The original mission of the club has been broadened and expanded. The Rensselaer Club also encourages an interest among members to participate in and support philanthropic, charitable, social, and civic projects.
According to club history, in the early days, women and families of the club compiled and printed the first Institute directories; raised funds for gifts to the Rensselaer Library (when it was in the basement of what is now the Voorhees Computing Center) and carried petitions for the re-use of the building instead of its razing; and launched and sustained several centers and organizations in the Capital Region that founded and tended libraries, arts centers, and public service activities.
“As newcomers to the area, the club has provided us a set of social and cultural opportunities that are new and unique to what is typically found in the Capital Region,” said Erica Veil, president of the Rensselaer Club. Veil, a metalsmith who turns raw metal into decorative objects and jewelry, moved to Troy from Denver in October 2008 with her husband, Peter Fox, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science and Computer Science, and a Tetherless World Constellation Chair.
In an effort to recruit new members, the clubs hosts an annual fall reception in collaboration with President Shirley Ann Jackson. During this year’s annual fall reception event, held in Pat’s Barn on Oct. 19, President Jackson spoke of the long-standing impact of the club on the campus and local community.
“The Rensselaer Club was founded in 1935 as the Women’s Club by Rachel Hotchkiss, the wife of then-Rensselaer President William Otis Hotchkiss,” said President Jackson. “Her goal was to help families of our faculty and staff form friendships with one another. That goal has not changed over the years. Yet, I think one of the most notable shifts in the club, over its seven-plus decades, has been its transformation from a mostly social group, to one that also works to make a positive impact in our local community. Whether social, civic, or philanthropic, the activities of the club foster a sense of community. What you do here forging connections and offering a helping hand to those around you represents the human spirit at its best.”
“One of the three fundamental markers that drive The Rensselaer Plan is ‘community;’ that is, developing essential partnerships within local, state, national, and international communities,” President Jackson added. “Certainly this club works to help fulfill this mandate on a local level.”
“As a member-driven organization, we encourage Rensselaer faculty, staff, and their families to get involved in supporting, contributing to, or helping drive our community service and social activities,” Veil said. “The strength and value of the club lies in the level of involvement of our membership, thus we encourage individuals to participate in as many activities as their time allows.”
Today, club members are involved in a series of community service and philanthropic activities that include supporting campus blood drives, neighborhood beautification, creating scholarship opportunities, and tutoring local elementary public school students. In addition, the club hosts a variety of social activities for its members including the annual fall reception hosted by President Shirley Ann Jackson, monthly luncheons at area dining venues, monthly gourmet potlucks, a fitness group, wine and cheese tastings, and others.
Veil noted that the club website is a great place for community members to learn more about the club and to get involved. The site holds overall descriptions and contacts for every activity and committee currently in place. Individuals also will find the calendar of upcoming events, history of the club, and a membership application.
“As a member of the Rensselaer Club, it’s wonderful to see the professional and personal connections that are made each time an event is held,” Veil said. “Our goal is to increase membership in order to provide more faculty and staff members and their families with an opportunity to be surrounded by new friends and warm support.”
For more information about The Rensselaer Club, visit http://tw.rpi.edu/TheRensselaerClub/.