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The Rensselaer Plan

Alumni input is vital to the process

President's View

It hardly seems that more than two months have passed since my inauguration on Sept. 24! I was pleased to meet many alumni who attended the events of that week, but never as many as I-or you-would like. I extend my sincere thanks to all of you who honored Rensselaer by your attendance and who added so much to the sense of pride and exhilaration that suffused the campus that week. (See feature article, page 16.)

No doubt, the time since inauguration seems so short because the campus agenda has been so full. In the last two months, Rensselaer faculty, students, staff, and administration have mobilized, with tremendous vision, focus, and commitment, to create a first draft of "The Rensselaer Plan." Today, I want our alumni to know that we need to have you take an active role in this endeavor.

Before I explain more fully how we would like you to contribute to The Rensselaer Plan, let me sum up its underlying purpose with these words from my inaugural address: "As the new century beckons, Rensselaer demands the forceful expression of a new Rensselaer Plan, one that will articulate new ideas, new ideals-and bold action. The Rensselaer Plan will capture our vision and guide our choices-in short it will secure Rensselaer's position as a world-class technological research university with global outlook and global impact."

While The Rensselaer Plan was announced formally at inauguration, you will recall that it was previewed briefly in the September issue of Rensselaer magazine, and campus leadership began initial conversations on the concept in July.

The Rensselaer Plan will capture our vision and guide our choices...It will secure Rensselaer's position as a world-class technological research university with global outlook and global impact.

Participation reached a new order of magnitude in October, when we held 22 meetings and workshops, one or more sessions for each academic and administrative unit. These workshops, open to the entire campus community, were designed to elicit answers to a set of "directive questions" that asked each constituent to define core activities, honestly assess leadership status, identify "must do" areas for the future, and make recommendations for change, both by increasing resources to certain programs and by decreasing them to others. A broad group of campus representatives-the Rensselaer Assessment Leadership Committee, or RealCom-was assigned the responsibility of coordinating these campus workshops and synthesizing their results.

Simultaneously, the provost, the vice presidents, and the academic deans each prepared a written assessment of their "portfolios," or areas of responsibility, again guided by the directive questions. In addition, we engaged the Washington Advisory Group, a national consulting firm whose members include Frank

Rhodes, the former president of Cornell University, and Erich Bloch, the former director of the National Science Foundation. The Washington Advisory Group joined in the conversation at many of the campus workshops and collected benchmarking information to assist us in defining Rensselaer's areas of national leadership.

Throughout it all, the President's Cabinet participated in an aggressive schedule of meetings that more often than not continued late into the evening. During this discourse, the vice presidents and I engaged in lively and serious conversation about Rensselaer-its traditions, its leadership areas, its strengths, its weaknesses, its potential, and its future.

We know the involvement of every segment of Rensselaer will be needed to execute our plan successfully; we seek the insight and wisdom of every Rensselaer constituent in creating it.

Now the President's Cabinet has completed a first draft that is intended to provide the springboard for the fullest possible dialogue. We welcome your ideas and insights about all aspects of this early expression of a Rensselaer Plan. I invite you to "Have at it."

We welcome comments to the first draft through Jan. 31.

A second draft, due by Feb. 15, will be reviewed by various leadership groups, including the Rensselaer Alumni Association.

The full text will be available in mid-December at
You may access it with the user name "rpi" and the password "plan."
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