People are the most important part of any formula for change. While The Rensselaer Plan is a document of which we all can be proud, it is the people of Rensselaer who have made the promise of it a reality.
Guided by the Plan, Rensselaers people are transforming the Institute
Change is challenging. That is a fact of life with which we all are well acquainted. But when a venerable institution like Rensselaer undergoes systemic and rapid change, the challenges grow exponentially.
The enactment of The Rensselaer Plan in May 2000 signaled a sea change in the long and distinguished history of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Not since the turn of the 20th century, when then President Palmer Chamberlaine Ricketts guided a rebirth of the Institute, has Rensselaer undergone such an unprecedented transformation. It is a very exciting time at Rensselaer. With the Plan as our guide, we are moving the Institute to the top tier of research universities and taking our place as a leader in new frontiers of scientific and technological discovery.
This special issue of Rensselaer magazine focuses on the progress we have made thus far in realizing the promise and the vision of the Plan. As you will see, the changes have been significant as we grow the research program, build leading-edge facilities, and attract outstanding faculty and leaders who will take the Institute to the next level of prominence in higher education.
Changing a 178-year-old institution like Rensselaer that is steeped in tradition is hard work. It means encouraging people who have an investment in the institution faculty, alumni, students, and staff to take risks and to envision a bolder future. Fortunately, Rensselaer is blessed with talented people who care passionately about the direction the Institute will take in this young century. Their tireless work, enthusiasm, and willingness to take risks enabled us to develop the Plan in less than a year, and to tally an impressive list of accomplishments. Many of those exciting developments are featured in this issue.
The creation of the Plan alone involved countless hours of planning, assessing, and budgeting on the part of the academic schools and administrative divisions; campuswide town meetings and public workshops where input was gathered and information disseminated; and assessments and insights from outside experts in institutional change. This truly was a unified yet pervasive effort that involved all constituencies who would be affected by the Plan. Indeed, members of the Rensselaer community can find in the Plan exactly where their input became part of the final document.
The Board of Trustees first entrusted me with this mission to create a world-class technological university when I came to Rensselaer three years ago. Their whole-hearted and unanimous support of the Plan and its implementation has inspired the entire Rensselaer community. Faculty members, in turn, have been energized by our commitment to more than double research activity. Students are excited to be part of a forward-looking university that encourages entrepreneurship and discovery. Meanwhile, Rensselaer alumni, who already are changing the world in myriad ways, are heartened to see their alma mater continuing its tradition of excellence and innovation.
Everyone in the Rensselaer community owes a debt of gratitude to the many people whose efforts, talent, commitment, and courage have enabled us to come so far in such a short time. People are the most important part of any formula for change.
While The Rensselaer Plan is a document of which we all can be proud, it is the people of Rensselaer who have made the promise of it a reality. What is more, our success is gaining for Rensselaer a national reputation as a model for academic transformation.
What we have accomplished at Rensselaer in the past three years is remarkable. At this moment, we can look back on our accomplishments as we gear up for the work that lies ahead.
Yes, we must change the world, but first we must change Rensselaer. We are well on our way.