Inside Rensselaer
Volume 7, No. 11, June 14, 2013

The Rensselaer Plan 2024 may be found at

The Rensselaer Plan

From Transformation to Transformative Force

For more than a decade, The Rensselaer Plan has guided the transformation of the Institute into a top-tier technological research university with global reach and global impact. Now, with its goals achieved and with collaboration across the Rensselaer community, The Plan has been refreshed to chart yet another ambitious course—for Rensselaer to accelerate its momentum as a transformative force in anticipation of the 2024 bicentennial.

The Rensselaer Plan 2024 builds on what already has been accomplished and calls for the Institute increasingly to reach beyond its borders with significant, lasting worldwide influence. The overriding goal is for Rensselaer to be a world leader in its positive impact on the lives of its students, in its pedagogy, and in the global impact of its research.

“We want to be a transformative force in those areas that make a difference for the world, make a difference for our students, and make for a great university,” says President Shirley Ann Jackson.

Like its precursor, The Rensselaer Plan 2024 focuses on creating a complete student experience, leading the way in innovation and education, and extending the Institute’s impact on humanity through forward-looking research initiatives. The refreshed blueprint also targets the same six strategic priorities as the original Plan:

  • Providing an outstanding, distinctive education for undergraduate and graduate students and for
    working professionals
  • Dramatically expanding the research enterprise
  • Increasing the focus on innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Strengthening ethnic, gender, intellectual, and geographic diversity among students, faculty, and staff
  • Revitalizing the diverse communities on campuses, among alumni/alumnae and friends, and in all activities locally, nationally, and internationally
  • Redesigning and invigorating enabling activities to focus the Rensselaer community, infrastructure, and resources on the realization of strategic goals
The Rensselaer Plan 2024 focuses on creating a complete student experience, leading the way in innovation and education, and extending the Institute’s impact on humanity through forward-looking research initiatives.

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Rensselaer Announce Collaboration

Provost Prabhat Hajela led some of the Plan refresh workshops.  

Because it begins from a new position of strength, the refreshed Plan sets its sights ever higher, envisioning a Rensselaer that makes world-changing scientific discoveries, technological innovations, and significant contributions to commerce, the arts and culture, and public policy. The refreshed Plan also reflects a university-wide consensus on where Rensselaer should be when it marks its second century—and the actions and commitment required to achieve that objective.
A collaborative process

Work on the refreshed Plan began during the 2011-12 academic year, with discussions about the strategic priorities that should guide Institute efforts in the coming years. From the beginning, much of the focus was on a set of global challenges that Rensselaer is uniquely positioned to address through its research prominence.

Last summer, President Jackson established the interdisciplinary Reassessment Leadership Committee (ReaLCom.2.0) to take the discussion to the entire Rensselaer community. Members included: Committee Chair Prabhat Hajela, provost; Vice Chair Jonathan Dordick, vice president for research; Vice Chair Timothy Sams, vice president for student life; Evan Douglis, dean of architecture; David Rosowsky, dean of engineering; Mary Simoni, dean of humanities, arts, and social sciences; Thomas Begley, dean, Lally School of Management and Technology; Laurie Leshin, dean of science; Lester Gerhardt, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering and chair, Faculty Senate; Isom Herron, professor of mathematical sciences and president, Faculty Senate; Shekhar Garde, professor and head, chemical and biological engineering (CBE); James Hendler, Constellation professor and head, computer science; Cynthia Collins, assistant professor, CBE; Ed Staats, manager, design and construction, administration; Nikki Gallant, undergraduate student; and Joe Perchiacca, graduate student.

At the same time, President Jackson convened a Writing Committee consisting of Hajela, Dordick and Sams, along with Virginia Gregg, vice president for finance and chief financial officer; John Kolb, vice president for information services and technology and chief information officer; and William Walker, vice president for strategic communications and external relations. By the beginning of the fall 2012 semester, the Writing Committee had completed the first draft of the refreshed Plan, and ReaLCom2.0 had begun the weeks-long process of soliciting input from across the Rensselaer community.

To give everyone an opportunity to comment, ReaLCom.2.0 held four public sessions, plus separate sessions for students and alumni/alumnae. All vice presidents and deans conducted discussion sessions within their own portfolios. The Rensselaer Alumni Association also reached out to alumni and alumnae for feedback, and presented its recommendations. The Writing Committee and President Jackson then reviewed the comments, to develop the final draft, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in December.


The original Rensselaer Plan made specific commitments that propelled the university to its current position of prominence. Because those commitments were fulfilled, five new signature research thrusts were established and annual research funding rose to $100 million. The faculty was strengthened with the addition of 34 new named chairs—including 24 Constellation professors—and 275 new hires.

The successful $1.4 billion Renaissance at Rensselaer campaign helped fund an unprecedented $725 million investment in the Troy campus. The resulting new and enhanced platforms, facilities, and infrastructure have invigorated education, research, and student life and made Rensselaer more selective than ever.

The Rensselaer Plan 2024 sets forth 110 equally impressive commitments, including pledges to provide a complete student experience for undergraduate and graduate students, extend the five signature research thrusts of the university to address global challenges, and mount a comprehensive fundraising effort to sustain the momentum of the successful Renaissance at Rensselaer campaign. Highlights include:

In undergraduate education—expanding curricular offerings, creating the next revolution in teaching and learning, providing new opportunities for research and international experiences, launching a research-focused Honors Program, and developing an ever-more-engaging and transformative student experience through the student education-centered Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students (CLASS) program.

In graduate education—extending CLASS to graduate students; increasing the resident graduate student population to 2,500, including 1,600 Ph.D. students; growing interdisciplinary, research-based graduate programs; focusing graduate education and research on global challenges; developing advanced professional programs that leverage interdisciplinary research; and creating new technology-enabled learning environments.

In research—more than doubling the size of the research enterprise, from $100 million to $250 million; launching two new research umbrellas, “Beyond the Internet: Digital Meets Reality” and “Infrastructural Resilience, Sustainability, and Stewardship”; continuing faculty expansion with a target size of 500 tenured and tenure-track faculty; and expanding cross-sector research partnerships.

In the communities of Rensselaer—increasing ethnic, gender, intellectual, and geographic diversity; strengthening connections with alumni/alumnae and increasing their involvement in advancing the Institute; fostering an innovative ecosystem to bring ideas from the classroom and laboratory to the marketplace; and seeking additional collaborations at the local, regional, national, and global levels.

In enabling change—targeting $150 million in annual philanthropic support, doubling the endowment, and maintaining a robust infrastructure to support academic, research, and administrative activities.

In charting a course for the future, The Rensselaer Plan 2024 acknowledges the transformation of the past decade and pays tribute to the proud history of the Institute. Even more important, the refreshed Plan secures the legacy of the nation’s oldest technological university. When the commitments of The Rensselaer Plan 2024 are fulfilled, Rensselaer—its students, faculty, and alumni and alumnae—will be positioned to reach beyond the Institute borders with significant and lasting global influence. Rensselaer will emerge as a transformative force, fully prepared to “change the world.”

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 7, Number 11, June 14, 2013
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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