Working Together: Rensselaer Hosts Planning Session
for Downtown Troy BID
Extending the reach of the Institute beyond campus borders—applying our talent and resources to the world around us—is a clear extension of the Rensselaer mission to apply knowledge to the common purposes of life. Nowhere is that more important than in our home community. Often, Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson underscores the importance of active partnership with the larger community in the term "communiversity"—a vision of the way institutions of higher learning and the cities, towns, and counties that serve as their homes can and should work together to ensure the viability and vibrancy of their shared communities.
To further support this vision, last month Rensselaer hosted a strategic planning session for the board of directors of the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District at the Heffner Alumni House. The program was facilitated by the Archer Center for Student Leadership Development. The Archer Center involvement was the result of the collaborative efforts of the Office of Community Relations, Alumni Relations, and the Archer Center partnership with the Division of Human Resources at Rensselaer to offer professional development to the surrounding community.
"Rensselaer hosting the Downtown Troy BID's strategic planning session and the Archer Center facilitating this important session is an excellent example of a laudable communiversity project," said Erin Crotty, director of state and community relations, who also serves as Rensselaer representative on the Downtown Troy BID board.
Archer Center staffers Tracy Schierenbeck and Annie Virkus, who both serve in the position of associate director and lecturer, planned the session for the 20 board members. Virkus noted that strategic planning is the dynamic process of operating an organization by rationally determining where you are, describing your preferred future, and planning how and when you will get there together. The interactive program included lively discussions, mental exercises, and the opportunity to build consensus on how the Downtown Troy BID can work to fulfill its mission.
"As a nonprofit community organization, we recognize that we are a college town and we want to develop a closer relationship with the colleges in our area," said Elizabeth Young, executive director of the Troy BID. "The BID can serve as a vehicle for student-focused positive change, and our goal is to connect downtown Troy with the campus. We are a diverse board made up of a group of property owners, business owners and residents. With support from the Archer Center and in a short amount of time, we were to develop clear expectations and set up the framework for our future goals, which is not always easy to do."
The Archer Center for Student Leadership Development, named for Mary Jane and Hugh M. Archer '37, was founded in 1989 as a result of an initiative by the Rensselaer Union Executive Board to provide leadership training for campus club presidents and student government leaders. Today, the center is part of the Division of Student Life. The center provides leadership education—both in and outside of the classroom—for the benefit of Rensselaer students, faculty, staff, administrators and local communities.
For more information about the Archer Center, visit: http://archer.union.rpi.edu/index.html.
For more information about the Troy BID, visit: