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Gail and Jeffrey L. Kodosky ’70 Establish Rensselaer’s First Constellation

Gail Theilmann Kodosky and Jeff Kodosky ’70 have made a gift of $5 million that will create the first constellation (see page 15) at Rensselaer and provide major impetus to the Rensselaer Plan and President Jackson’s vision for Rensselaer as a world-class technological research university. The gift will establish the Gail and Jeffrey L. Kodosky ’70 Constellation in Physics, Information Technology, and Entrepreneurship.   

“This gift represents a ringing vote of confidence in the future of Rensselaer,” President Jackson said. “I am very grateful to Jeff and Gail for their extraordinary leadership and generosity. Through this gift, future generations of scientists will contribute to business and research in a myriad of ways, following the example set by Jeff Kodosky in his career.”   

Jeff Kodosky earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Rensselaer in 1970. He is co-founder, director, and vice president of research and development of National Instruments, a leading developer and manufacturer of integrated software and hardware for engineers and scientists. Kodosky credits his Rensselaer education and, in particular, his training in physics with giving him an “entire approach to problem solving” that has led to his success in business.

Kodosky is a Rensselaer Key Executive and a member of the School of Science Advisory Board. Through the Kodosky Family Foundation, Gail and Jeff Kodosky have been strong supporters of the Rensselaer Annual Fund, the Patroon Scholars Program, the Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education, the Rensselaer Union Classical Concert Series, the Blue Ribbon Initiative of the School of Engineering, and the School of Science.   

Last year, Jeff Kodosky was instrumental in securing a gift valued at $5.7 million of software and site licenses from National Instruments for LabVIEW, the first such agreement between National Instruments and a university. LabVIEW, co-created by Kodosky, is the industry-standard graphical programming environment for measurement and automation. Kodosky also has actively recruited Rensselaer students to work for National Instruments.

Architecture graduate and His Wife Follow in Mentor’s Footsteps

Rensselaer is the recipient of a major bequest from the estate of Dorothy and James Penn ’40, valued at $2.35 million. James Penn was a graduate of the School of Architecture. As a student, he was a member of the Glee Club and the Rensselaer Society of Engineers. After leaving Rensselaer, Penn returned to his home state of Tennessee, where he spent his career as a buyer for the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA).   

Edwin Stanton Fickes, an ALCOA executive and Class of 1894 Rensselaer alumnus, had a strong influence on Penn’s decision to attend Rensselaer and to work for ALCOA. Fickes, who received an honorary doctor of engineering degree in 1936, left Rensselaer $8.2 million in his estate.   

While never a practicing architect, James Penn’s love for architecture remained strong throughout his life. For well over 50 years, he maintained strong ties with Rensselaer and, in particular, with the School of Architecture. The Penns were active in their local garden club and conservation efforts. James Penn died on March 1, 1998. Dorothy Coe Penn died on Jan. 15, 2000. The strength of their love for one another is exemplified by the following quote from Dorothy Coe Penn: “In 20 years, only two arguments!”


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