Back in the 1970s, Troy businessman Ellis Robison struck up a friendship with Rensselaer Athletic Director Bob Ducatte. It was to become a fruitful partnership for both.
Ellis Robison once said, College students should graduate with sounder bodies as well as better minds. He pursued that belief through his gifts to support Rensselaer athletics. Today his childrenJim Robison 46, Richard, Elissa, and Barbaracontinue Ellis and his wife Doris legacy through the Robison Athletic Fund.
The Robisons giving to Rensselaer began with some coinsliterally. Half the proceeds from the sale of a valuable coin collection came to Rensselaer, and began a philanthropic partnership that first funded the construction of the Robison Pool, completed in 1984. Among many other improvements, their early contributions helped to build or renovate the Robison Gym, Robison Field, and the Athletic Hall of Fame, to name but a few.
Funds remaining from the sale of the coins were invested in the Robison Athletics Fund, with the annual income used to meet critical capital needs. After initial investments totaling $1.75 million, this fund has provided an additional $680,000 in project support since 1987an average of nearly $47,000 per year. Robison family support of athletics runs the gamut, from the glamorous to the mundanefrom new vans and buses for team travel to field drainage projects; from goalposts for 86 Field to a new vacuum for the pool; from shiny new shells for the crew club to carpets for the gym lobby; and from new bleachers at Harkness Field to weight room equipment.
To honor their most recent projectextensive improvements to the Armory Little League Fieldthe renovated athletic facility was dedicated to the memory of Doris B. Robison in a ceremony on April 20. Surrounded by the womens varsity softball team, family members threw out the first ball at a doubleheader against Union College.
An unabashed evangelist for entrepreneurship, Rensselaer Trustee Mike Herman 62 has spent 30 years practicing and encouraging new business formation. Now, Herman, his wife, Karen, and their children, Brooks and Jolyan, have committed $1 million from the Herman Family Foundation to share this extraordinary experience with Rensselaer students. This gift will serve as the catalyst for igniting the flame of entrepreneurship across the Rensselaer curriculum. They want to make Rensselaer the first technological university where students in all fields will learn what it takes for companies and organizations to succeed in the 21st century.
For the Hermans, this latest gift is part of a long history of investing in entrepreneurship education at Rensselaer. They have supported numerous scholarship programs and an annual graduate fellowship for entrepreneurial women. This generosity is the natural outgrowth of being an entrepreneur, says Mike Herman. Youll find that entrepreneurs are the greatest philanthropists. Entrepreneurs want to make a difference. Money for them is not something to hold ontoits something to put to work.
At Rensselaer, Hermans $1 million gift will provide start-up funds to infuse entrepreneurship throughout the curriculumnot simply to develop new courses, but to give an entrepreneurial thrust to the entire expanse of current programs in science, engineering, architecture, information technology, management, and the humanities.
The initiative will expose all first-year students to the principles and practices of entrepreneurship and to the many entrepreneurial opportunities available on campus. Entrepreneurship will be a critical component of capstone experiences that will ask students to solve a significant, open-ended design problem. Faculty training also will be featured.
During his career, Mike Herman has developed nuclear fuels, been a venture capitalist, worked as a top executive in pharmaceuticals, headed a major league baseball club, and has long served on the board of the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation, Americas pioneering force in entrepreneurship education. A 1962 Rensselaer graduate in metallurgical engineering, Herman decided to launch this program because of his deep commitment to the Institute and because Rensselaer is particularly well-poised to lead the way in graduating technologically gifted men and women who are extremely savvy entrepreneurs.
Class of 2001 Millennium Scholarship
Rensselaer students are remarkable. Remarkable in their talents, their drive, their ability to tackle difficult problems, and in their desire to give back to Rensselaer for the education they received. A long-standing tradition has been established by the outgoing senior class to make a gift to Rensselaer. Past gifts have included a time capsule, the granite Rensselaer sign on the lawn of the Rensselaer Union, and many more.
This year, the senior class decided upon a gift that will be both unique and meaningful to students for years to comethe Class of 2001 Millennium Scholarship Fund. This endowed fund, which will provide one or more Rensselaer undergraduates with a four-year scholarship, marks the first time the senior class has chosen to endow a scholarship.
The idea for the gift grew out of brainstorming discussions by the Class of 2001 Council. We wanted to give something back that would impact students personally and last long after we have left Rensselaer, says Shaelynn Hales 01, 2001 Senior Class Council President. Hales adds, We hope we have started a new tradition for the Rensselaer classes of this millennium.
The goal is to set up an endowment of at least $25,000, the income from which will support undergraduate students in perpetuity. Each member of the class is being asked to consider making a pledge, payable over the next five years.
If you are interested in learning more about the scholarship, please log on to:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), 110 8th St., Troy, NY 12180. (518) 276-6000