Commencement: Hail and Farewell to the Class of 2013
An Overview of the 207th Graduation Ceremony
On Saturday, May 25, 1,676 students will receive degrees from Rensselaer, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the East Campus Athletic Village (ECAV) stadium. They represent the next generation of leaders, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, patent holders, game designers, architects, and innovators, in fields ranging from engineering to architecture, fine arts to science, game design to information technology, and business to the military.
During the 207th Commencement ceremony, Rensselaer will award a total of 1,834 degrees. They include: 411 master’s degrees, 163 doctoral degrees, and 1,260 bachelor’s degrees. Some graduates have earned more than one degree.
Please Note: All degree numbers and facts include both August and December 2012 graduated students. This information does not include the Hartford campus. All numbers cited are as of May 16, 2013, and are subject to change.
A Global Community
In 2013, graduating students come from more than 40 states, in addition to New York. The Class of 2013 contains graduates from 19 other nations, including: Bangladesh, Canada, China, Colombia, Greece, India, Malaysia, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey.
The Commencement Speaker Is…
U.S. Representative John R. Lewis (D-GA)—one of the nation’s most dedicated and courageous civil rights leaders—will deliver the 2013 Commencement address. Before he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the Fifth Congressional District in Georgia in 1986, Lewis compiled an impressive track record that led many civil and human rights leaders to call him one of the most courageous persons the civil rights movement ever produced. Roll Call magazine once said, “John Lewis…is a genuine American hero and moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.”
U.S. Representative John R. Lewis (D-GA)—one of the nation’s most dedicated and courageous civil rights leaders—will deliver the 2013 Commencement address.
Taking the Podium
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson will also address members of the Class of 2013. President Jackson is the 18th president of Rensselaer. Since taking office in 1999, she has led an extraordinary transformation of the Institute with an ambitious strategic effort known as The Rensselaer Plan.
Class President Christopher Newhard, who majored in biochemistry and biophysics, will also address the graduates. The Westford, Mass., native plans to pursue graduate study at Rensselaer since he was accepted into the accelerated B.S./Ph.D. program in the School of Science. Newhard will investigate the influence of different forms of the same protein on muscle mechanics in using Drosophila melanogaster, otherwise known as the fruit fly.
Honorary Degree Recipients
Congressman John Lewis will address graduates and receive an honorary degree. Also receiving honorary degrees will be Retired Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael G. Mullen, Xerox Chairman and CEO Ursula M. Burns, and Microsoft and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pioneer Patricia Q. Stonesifer.
On the eve of Commencement, Rensselaer will convene for the 2013 President’s Commencement Colloquy. The honorands will participate in a discussion—titled “Leading Cultural Shifts: Courage, Creativity, Commitment”—led by President Jackson. The Colloquy, open to the Rensselaer community and the general public, will be held in the EMPAC Concert Hall beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, May 24.
“Congressman Lewis is indeed a ‘profile in courage,’ an extraordinary example of the power of an individual to change the world,” President Jackson said. “At about the same age as our students, he stood up for what was right by sitting down at lunch counters, walking across a bridge in Selma, and marching on Washington. In doing so, with a persistent commitment to non-violence, he helped lead our nation through the civil rights era to a new day. Long considered the ‘conscience of the U.S. Congress,’ for more than a half century he has remained steadfast in his pursuit of equality, justice, and fairness for all. We are honored to have this Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and true American hero address the graduates at Rensselaer.
“We also look forward to honoring and hearing from three other influential leaders in corporate America, the military, and the foundation and nonprofit sectors,” President Jackson added. “As chairman and CEO of Xerox, Ursula Burns has led the transformation of a Fortune 500 company, and the conversation on the importance of inviting young people to pursue math and science careers. As former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen guided the U.S. armed services through a shift in mission and in culture. As Chair of the White House Council on Community Solutions, and a pioneer in Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Patricia Stonesifer has remained focused on creating access, reducing inequities, and expanding opportunities for others. Each has been global in reach and profound in impact, and we are honored by their participation in our Commencement.”
This year, four Rensselaer employees are graduating. In addition, 10 children of Rensselaer employees also are graduating.
All in the Family
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, 88 members of the Class of 2013 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, Bentley University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, Texas A&M, UCLA, UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and Rensselaer.
Hot Jobs! Meet the Next Generation of Innovators in the Work Force
Today, job market news continues to look positive in all regions for Class of 2013 graduates, according to a new report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which states that technical majors head the list of highest-paid majors for the college Class of 2013. The report notes that the top-paid non-engineering majors are computer science, with an average starting salary of $64,800, followed by management information systems/business ($63,100) and finance ($57,400).
In addition, employers taking part in NACE’s Job Outlook Spring Update survey said they would hire 2.1 percent more new college grads from the Class of 2013 than they hired from the Class of 2012. The survey is a forecast of hiring intentions of employers as they relate to new college graduates.
With the Rensselaer Commencement ceremony around the corner, preliminary results indicate that Rensselaer students—in all areas of study, including management, humanities, social sciences, information technology, and engineering—are landing good jobs within the Capital Region, across the nation, and also overseas.
Heading from the stage to offices and locations in the Capital Region and around the country, Rensselaer graduates will work at Amazon.com, Apple Inc., Boeing, Deloitte & Touche, Ecovative, General Electric, General Motors, GlobalFoundries, Google, Honda R & D, JP Morgan Chase, Kitware, L’Oreal, Merck, Microsoft, Momentive Performance Materials, Palantir Technologies, TripAdvisor, United Technologies Corporation, ZS Associates, Sandia National Laboratories, as well as other national labs including Pacific Northwest, Lawrence Berkeley, and U.S. Naval Research Lab.
“Today’s employers really desire students who have had some experience while in college,” said Dawn Cairns-Weaver, director of experiential learning and cooperative education in the Rensselaer Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD). “This is what gives a student the competitive edge when it comes to landing a full-time job. As the employment landscape has improved, we have seen an increase in the opportunities for students who carved out time while studying at Rensselaer to gain experience through summer internships and co-op assignments. Despite market dynamics, Rensselaer graduates have always proven to be resilient and resourceful.”
Weaver also noted that Rensselaer graduates continue to enjoy overall higher starting salaries compared to national averages. The average starting salary reported for the Class of 2013 is $66,987. According to NACE, the Class of 2013 overall is $44, 928 for all bachelor degree candidates. Last year, the average starting salary for all reported Rensselaer undergraduate bachelor’s degree candidates from the Class of 2012 was $63,159, while NACE reported that the overall average salary for all bachelor degree candidates for the Class of 2012 was $44,259.
Honoring Student Service, Leadership, and Scholarship
During the May 17 Senior Banquet, several graduating seniors were honored for their contributions to the Institute. The Willie Stanton Award, presented to the senior judged to have contributed the most in service to the student body, was awarded to Kenley Cheung, a computer science major from Staten Island, N.Y. 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 Adam Updegrove, a mechanical engineering major from Carson City, Nev. 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 Christopher Hall, an electrical engineering major from Villanova, Pa.
Parting Gift: A Giant Rubik’s Cube ®
Each year at Commencement, the graduating class presents the university with a unique and spirited gift. And now the fastest selling toy in history is making its way to the Rensselaer campus. Members of the Class of 2013 are raising funds to create a giant fully functional large Rubik’s Cube.
The Rubik’s Cube will be placed in the Darrin Communication Center landing at the end of the Great Hall. The innovative project brought together students, faculty, and staff from various disciplines in ways that reflect The Rensselaer Plan emphasis on the need for interdisciplinary focus, according to Katherine Manz, a senior who majored in chemistry and psychology, and a member of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women. Manz also serves as the head of the Class of 2013 Gift Committee.
The sculpture—which will measure over three feet per side—is based on an original design by Rensselaer student Sam Seifert, an electrical engineering major. Members of the Class of 2013 have already raised more than $5,000 to support project. To date, 190 members of the class have donated funds to support the project. In addition, 18 students became Patroons of Rensselaer with their gifts of $100 or more. The committee hopes to raise $20,000 to complete the project. The Rubik’s Cube will be unveiled during the Rensselaer Reunion & Homecoming Weekend planned for Oct. 4-6.
Awarding Excellence in Counseling
Charles W. Boylen, professor of biology in the School of Science and associate director of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute, has been selected as the 39th recipient of the David M. Darrin ’40 Counseling Award, which will be presented during the Commencement. 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.
In recognizing Professor Boylen, members of the Rensselaer community noted that “for the past 40 years, he has conducted environmentally focused research at Rensselaer, during which time he has mentored 35 graduate students and countless undergraduates.” One nominator described his “willingness and drive to assist students in all facets of their career at Rensselaer and beyond.” Another nominator said that “Professor Boylen’s passion and dedication to the mentoring of students is exhibited through his translation of thought-provoking lessons to hands-on learning experiences outside of the classroom walls.”
Commencement Goes Green
A green, sustainable mindset has picked up tremendous momentum on the campus over the past three years.
In support of Institutewide sustainability efforts and after consulting with students, the Rensselaer Bookstore has changed the bachelor’s and master’s graduation regalia that will be used for this year’s Commencement. The regalia features caps and gowns that are made from 100 percent post-consumer plastic bottle pellets. The regalia, supplied by Oak Hall Cap and Gown, is known as the “GreenWeaver” style. According to the organization, an average of 23 plastic bottles are removed from landfills for each gown. Other regalia features include tagless size labels stamped with soy milk, and a reduction in the CO2 gas emissions by more than 54 percent in the process of manufacturing fabric from plastic versus virgin polyester.
In addition, the plastic bags used to store the caps and gowns are made from recycled plastic. To date the program has resulted in the reuse of 14 million plastic bottles (nationally). Following Commencement, the used regalia can be turned in, and it will be used to recycle new fabric. Of special note, for every gown purchased, Oak Hall will make a donation to an on-campus sustainability program at participating colleges and universities. For the last three years, the organization has made a donation to the Class of 2010 Green Roof fund for continued maintenance of the green roof over the Bookstore.