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Enabling Change

We will... achieve high performance in key administrative processes; sustain a first-rate information culture; create and maintain outstanding facilities; project the image of a top-tier technological research university; and manage and expand our financial resources, directing expenditures to strategic purposes.

Achieving Rensselaer’s goal requires a systemic and relentless commitment to change. It also requires implementing the business processes, information infrastructure, physical facilities, and financial resources to do the job. The Rensselaer Plan enables change; change enables The Rensselaer Plan.

Nanotechnology: Good things from small packages
In the new Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center — which houses the National Science Foundation Center for Directed Assembly of Nanostructures — more than 30 researchers are focused on creating novel materials and devices that could, for example, create more effective drug-delivery systems in the human body, enable high capacity energy and information storage devices, and produce stronger and more durable plastics.

Nanotechnology uses clusters of molecules and atoms to make nanometer (billionth of a meter) size building blocks for new materials. The tiny blocks have different properties than larger sizes of the same materials and can therefore be used for many new applications.

Directed by Richard Siegel, the Robert W. Hunt Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, work in the Center spans nearly every discipline on campus, from materials science, physics, chemistry, and biology, to biomedical, chemical, and electrical engineering and computer science.

In biotechnology research, for example, researchers are studying how osteoplasts in bone cells interact with nanostructured hybrid materials. Their findings could lead to more effective implants.

In materials science, researchers are working toward devising new nanocomposite materials that resist scratching, stand up to twisting and stretching, survive high temperatures, and insulate electrical current far better than materials in general use today.

Another group is using quantum mechanics calculations and molecular simulation methods to build and analyze computer models of nanostructures.
Administrative Processes
The most profound enabler of Rensselaer’s transformation is the disciplined, strategic planning process itself. Every year, every portfolio, that is, each school and administrative division, reviews all the commitments made in The Rensselaer Plan then creates a Performance Plan that defines how (action, timetable, and resources) that portfolio plans to achieve the Institute’s overarching goals as well as the metrics that will be used to measure progress. Performance Plans look three years into the future.

Actions in all Performance Plans are then brought together and prioritized. As the proposed activities are assigned priorities, they serve, in total, to define priorities for the Institute as a whole. The refined plans become the basis for the Institute’s Operating Plan (budget, capital projects, etc.). Each year, results are assessed against the appropriate metrics, Performance Plans are revised, and the next year’s Performance Budget and Operating Plan are constructed.

All three levels of planning — The Rensselaer Plan, school and division Performance Plans, and annual Operating Plans — create an integrated and dynamic blueprint for achieving Rensselaer’s goal.

As all the remarkable evidence presented in this magazine indicates, The Rensselaer Plan works! The broad scope of The Rensselaer Plan — bridging every school and division and affecting every endeavor of the university — and the speed at which it was created — less than eight months from initial concept to final approval — is mirrored by the scope and speed of its results.

Information Infrastructure
The position of chief information officer, formerly dean of computing and information services in the Office of the Provost, was expanded and upgraded to cabinet level, reporting directly to the president. This change was made to ensure that the power of information technology would be available for managerial decision making, provide greater efficiency in business processes, and enable highly effective communication and collaboration throughout the Troy and Hartford campuses. John Kolb ’79, the former dean of computing and information services, was promoted to this new position.

Today there are some 8,000 data ports on the Rensselaer campus — more than one per resident student — and a gigabit backbone to support the Institute’s emphasis on technological research and education.

One of the big improvements resulting from major renovations to the Rensselaer Union is wireless computing. A state-of-the-art antenna network allows students to move freely anywhere in the upper two floors of the Union without breaking their Internet connection.

People, Programs, Platforms

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Rensselaer Magazine: December 2002
President's View Your Mail From the Archives Hawk Talk Class Notes Features
Front Page At Rensselaer Milestones
In Memoriam Making a Difference Staying Connected
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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Marketing and Media Relations.

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