|Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
Major building projects are part of the renaissance under way at Rensselaer
Those of you who attended Reunion 2003 saw the dramatic transformation under way on the Troy south campus. The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies is taking shape, as construction continues in anticipation of the fall 2004 opening. The 500-car parking garage is nearing completion, and we will break ground for the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) this month. These major projects are more evidence that we are moving forward to realize the goals of The Rensselaer Plan.
In fact, all summer the entire Troy campus has been humming with the sounds of drills, hammers, and construction vehicles. These projects include renovations to residence life facilities, especially freshman housing, and are part of a $32 million investment in renovations and upgrades to student life and campus facilities and classrooms in Troy and in Hartford. They represent more than 76 capital projects overall.
It is vital that we provide for our students an optimal living and learning environment in which they can explore not only their career possibilities, but also a breadth of intellectually challenging and personally stimulating programs. What is more, our students need more space in which they can simply be.
Therefore, as the campus expands, it is a priority to configure Rensselaers platforms to best serve our students, recognizing that learning takes place in a variety of forums. For example, our freshman residence halls are being renovated to include spaces where students can gather to work in teams, study in groups, and take classes. In newly refurbished Nason Hall, students can attend a class in economics or in humanities. They also can take advantage of supplemental instruction in the evening offered through the Advising and Learning Assistance Center. The Office of the First-Year Experience is continuing its efforts to acclimate students to university life through programs offered in the revitalized freshman residence halls.
We also have been endeavoring to integrate student services under one roof and to make them more accessible and user-friendly. To this end, the renovated Academy Hall on the south campus now serves as the home of student-related services. It currently houses, in expanded and upgraded space, the Dean of Students Office and its programs, as well as Student Health Services and the Office of the First-Year Experience. The Office of Financial Aid, the Registrar, and the Bursar also will make Academy Hall their home by early 2004. Our goal is to create a one-stop shopping experience for students who previously would have had to travel to several different buildings around the campus to visit these offices.
Meanwhile, our future plans for additional building on the Troy campus place Rensselaer students front and center. We are facing a growing need for expanded and updated athletics facilities and fields, which now are stretched to their capacities. I believe we are fortunate to have so many students who wish to take part in intramural and varsity sports and physical fitness activities certainly we should try to accommodate this demand. Our vision is of an east campus that includes a complete athletics complex as well as updated fields. Currently, a sports training facility is in the design stage. It will be located between Harkness Field and Lower Renwyck Field, and it will include much-needed locker rooms and classrooms. We expect to begin construction on it next year, as well as turfing Lower Renwick Field and installing lighting and seating there. We also will re-turf Harkness Field.
We also must provide our students with venues for cultural and artistic expression. EMPAC will be such a place, as it will enable the creative process to thrive across the disciplines that compose the arts and the sciences. How wonderful it will be for our future students to attend performances by world-class artists right on the Rensselaer campus, or to have the opportunity to work with the best minds in experimental arts a growing field of interest for young people in science and technology. EMPAC truly will embody the spirit of the Rensselaer renaissance, especially for the many students with diverse talents and multidisciplinary academic programs.
Students who choose Rensselaer expect that their college careers here will be marked by academic rigor, long hours of study, and sometimes daunting intellectual challenges. But as Rensselaer grows, the Institute also is expanding the idea of what constitutes a 21st-century technological education one that encompasses the body, the mind, and the spirit. Our students deserve no less.
|Rensselaer Magazine: Fall 2003|
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