Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson Named 18th President of Rensselaer

Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will bring her outstanding academic, research, and management credentials to campus July 1

Mark McCartyDr. Shirley Ann Jackson
Jackson will be inaugurated Sept. 24. Visit Rensselaer's web site for more details
The Honorable Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has been named the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, effective July 1.
  "Dr. Jackson's experience, her perspective, her record of achievement in government, in industry, in science, and in academe provide her with extraordinary qualifications to advance this great university in the 21st century," Samuel F. Heffner Jr. '56, chairman of the board of trustees, said in introducing the new president to the campus.
  Jackson was greeted with three standing ovations by a crowd of more than 800 students, faculty, and staff who packed the Darrin Communications Center for the noontime announcement on Dec. 11.
  Jackson told the campus, "I feel deeply honored to be entering this position at this particular juncture, poised as we are on the edge of a new millennium, fortunate to be able to draw on the enormous strengths of this great university—the quality of its faculty and staff, the wisdom of its Board of Trustees, the support of its alumni, and the extraordinary caliber of the students it attracts--in order to further the vision of Rensselaer as a technological university with a truly global impact.
  "I hope to bring to Rensselaer a leadership that will be characterized by the development of a shared vision, the clarity of that vision, the skill to articulate it, and the perseverance to bring it to fruition," Jackson said.
Gary Gold (2)   
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson addresses crowd

  Jackson comes to Rensselaer with academic, research, and management credentials forged during a 25-year career that has spanned the Chairmanship of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, research in theoretical physics at Bell Laboratories, and a professorship at Rutgers University.
  At Bell Laboratories, Jackson, a theoretical physicist, conducted research on the electronic and optical properties of electrons in two-dimensional systems, studies that find application in the fabrication of integrated circuits and semiconductor lasers. Her work led to her election as a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  Jackson also has conducted research at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and the Aspen Center for Physics.
  As a professor of physics at Rutgers University she led a research team in theoretical physics, and taught both undergraduate and graduate students, while continuing to consult for Bell Laboratories.
  Jackson was named Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 1995, where she articulated a vision focused on reaffirming the agency's commitment to public health and safety, enhancing regulatory effectiveness and positioning the NRC for change. Within the first three months of her tenure, she initiated a bottom-up strategic assessment and rebaselining, leading to a major reorganization of the agency, a new planning, budgeting, and performance management process, and a paradigm shift from a largely deterministic, prescriptive regulatory approach to risk-informed, performance-based regulation. Risk-informed, performance-based regulation is aimed at enhancing safety decision-making (through greater use of risk assessment methodologies), relief of unnecessary regulatory burden, and more efficient use of NRC and licensee resources.
  The Chairman is the principal executive officer and the official spokesman for the NRC. As principal executive officer, the Chairman is responsible for conducting the administrative, organizational, long-range planning, budgetary, and certain personnel functions of the agency. She has ultimate authority for all NRC functions pertaining to an emergency involving an NRC licensee.
  The commission is responsible for licensing and regulating nuclear facilities and materials, and for conducting research in support of the licensing and regulatory process. These responsibilities include protection of public health and safety, protecting the environment, protecting and safeguarding materials and nuclear facilities in the interest of national security, and assuring conformity with antitrust laws. The commission is composed of five members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, one of whom is designated by the President as Chairman.
  While serving as Chairman of the NRC, Jackson spearheaded the formation of the eight-nation International Nuclear Regulators Association in 1997, and was elected its first chairperson. The Association comprises the most senior nuclear regulatory officials from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It provides a forum for high-level policy discussion on global nuclear safety matters.
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson and student  She has served as a member of two binational commissions led by Vice President Gore--the U.S.-Russian Federation Binational Commission on Scientific and Economic Cooperation and the U.S.-South Africa Binational Commission. Since 1995, Jackson has represented the United States as a delegate to the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria.
  Jackson earned a bachelor's degree in physics in 1968 and a doctorate in theoretical elementary particle physics in 1973 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  Jackson was elected to the MIT Corporation (board of trustees) in 1975 and has served as a life member since 1992. As a member of its executive committee, she was involved in all major governance decisions for MIT and for the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. She participated in addressing the overarching questions associated with articulating the mission of a technological university: maintaining the strength of undergraduate and graduate programs, the role of research, entrepreneurial opportunities, and the role science and technology will play in defining and developing the future.
  Jackson served 10 years as a member of the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology. Appointed by the governor, the commission is charged with creating university/industry/government partnerships, building infrastructure in the state's research universities, and identifying those research areas where government support would best assist the state economy.
  Jackson has served on an advisory panel to the Secretary of Energy on the future of the Department of Energy National Laboratories, on research councils of the National Academy of Sciences, and on the Advisory Council of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations. Jackson has held a number of policy-making and governance positions in the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics, and on committees of the National Research Council and the National Science Foundation.
  Prior to assuming her current position, Jackson was a member of the boards of directors of Public Service Enterprise Group, Public Service Electric & Gas Company, CoreStates Financial Corporation, CoreStates New Jersey National Bank, Sealed Air Corporation, and New Jersey Resources Corporation.
  Jackson's career has been marked by many notable firsts. She was the first African American woman to receive a doctorate from MIT in any subject, and one of the first two African American women in the country to receive a doctorate in physics. She was the first African American and first woman to serve as NRC Chairman.
  She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1998 for her contributions as a distinguished scientist and an advocate for education, science, and public policy.
  She holds five honorary doctoral degrees, and in 1993 was awarded the New Jersey Governor's Award in Science.
  A native of Washington, D.C., Jackson is married to Dr. Morris A. Washington, also a physicist. They have one son, Alan.


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