SHIRLEY ANN JACKSON, Ph.D.
President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., is president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut.
Calling her a “national treasure,” the National Science Board selected her as its 2007 Vannevar Bush Award recipient for “a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education, and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy.”
She has senior leadership positions in government, industry, research, and academe. A theoretical physicist, she was chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1995- 1999). She serves on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, appointed by President Obama in 2009. Dr. Jackson also is a member of the International Security Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of State. Her research focus lies in theoretical studies of optoelectronic properties of two-dimensional systems. Her policy focus includes energy security and the national capacity for innovation, including addressing the “Quiet Crisis” of looming gaps in the science, technology, and engineering workforce and reduced support for basic research.
President of Rensselaer since 1999, Dr. Jackson has led an extraordinary transformation of the Institute with an ambitious strategic effort known as The Rensselaer Plan. Under her leadership, hundreds of new faculty members have been hired, research awards have more than doubled, and scholarships have increased. There have been innovations in curriculum, expansion of undergraduate research, and new award-winning student life initiatives.
Nearly $1 billion has been invested in The Rensselaer Plan, including more than $715 million in new construction, renovations, new equipment, technology, and infrastructure. In 2004, President Jackson launched a $1 billion Renaissance at Rensselaer capital campaign. In 2006, the goal was expanded to $1.4 billion. The campaign closed in 2009, having surpassed the ambitious goal of $1.4 billion in gifts and gift commitments, nine months ahead of schedule, exceeding all previous fundraising at Rensselaer.
Dr. Jackson is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, and a member of the Board of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution. She is a vice-chair of the Council on Competitiveness and co-chaired its Energy Security, Innovation and Sustainability initiative. She is a member of the Board of Directors of global companies including IBM and FedEx.
Dr. Jackson holds an S.B. in physics and a Ph.D. in theoretical elementary particle physics, both from M.I.T. She has been awarded 50 honorary doctoral degrees.
2012 President’s Commencement Colloquy