The 21st Century Student

Engineering the Biochip
Rensselaer Receives $130 Million


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With this issue of Rensselaer magazine you will find Salute to Involvement, our tribute to the thousands of alumni and friends who offered their talent and financial support last year.

Every gift is important. Some are transformational. This message brings extraordinary news, which was announced to campus on Dec. 13: The Institute has just obtained a gift of $130 million from an anonymous donor to construct both a biotechnology research facility and an electronic media and performing arts center. The gift is the 10th largest ever to a university, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

This remarkable expression of support will enable Rensselaer to move boldly on two areas of critical importance for the Institute and for society.

The center for biotechnology and interdisciplinary studies will rank among the world's most advanced research facilities and provide the state-of-the-art research and education facilities required for the exponential increase in research envisioned by the Rensselaer Plan, our comprehensive strategic plan for the Institute. The 200,000-plus-square-foot facility will be located on 15th Street, adjacent to the George M. Low Center for Industrial Innovation. An advisory committee has been formed to define program and facility needs, and groundbreaking is slated for late 2001 or early 2002.

The Rensselaer Plan calls for more than doubling Rensselaer's research activity in the next five years, from $40 million to $100 million, by developing focal areas of expertise within the biotechnology and information technology arenas. The biotechnology facility will house "constellations" of faculty, graduate students, and others who will constitute a locus of expertise within specific focal areas. In biotechnology, the focal areas have been identified as functional tissue engineering, integrative systems biology, biocomputation and bioinformatics, and biocatalysis and metabolic engineering.

The electronic media and performing arts center will showcase our signature offerings in the electronic arts and create a more lively, intellectually stimulating campus environment. It represents a major impetus toward realizing the commitment of the Rensselaer Plan to enriching the student experience and building a vibrant campus, while engaging the larger community within which the university sits. The facility will provide a series of performance and presentation venues, including an 800-person auditorium and a 400-person theater that can be combined for large events, as well as smaller "black box" theaters. A design competition will be held in the spring for a 130,000-square-foot facility to be constructed on the hill in the vicinity of the Richard G. Folsom Library. Groundbreaking is planned for spring 2002.

Rensselaer is extremely grateful for the support of our anonymous donor whose commitment to broad areas in education, research, sciences, nature, and the arts has put us so quickly on the path to realizing the Rensselaer Plan.


Rensselaer Alumni Magazine On-Line