Just one year after being approved by the Board of Trustees, the Rensselaer Plan is driving the Institute to spectacular new initiatives and generating support that is unprecedented in the annals of higher education.
As you have doubtless learned, Rensselaer received a $360 million gift in March, which at the time was the largest gift ever to a public or private university in the United States. This gift, which grabbed the attention of all the national media and ignited interest throughout the higher education community, replaced the gift of $130 million originally made by the same generous donor and announced in the December magazine.
The $360 million gift is a magnificent commitment to Rensselaers future, says President Shirley Ann Jackson. It represents the donors extraordinary belief in Rensselaer, and more especially, in the Rensselaer Plan vision of what the Institute can become.
If the Rensselaer Plan is a road map, the $360 million gift is fuel for the journey, Jackson says. The gift not only propels us toward realizing some of the specific initiatives set out in the plan, it galvanizes every member of the Institute community to take an active role in transforming the nations oldest technological university.
What is it about the Rensselaer Plan that has inspired such confidence?The vision is simultaneously bold and realistic, both carefully thought-out and workable. At its core are the affirmations that education and research are inextricably linked in a great university, and that Rensselaer must become a leader in biotechnology and information technology, two fields that are at the forefront of todays society. The vision is uniquely Rensselaer, building on the Institutes national leadership in innovative undergraduate education and its interdisciplinary approach to research, and extending its 176-year-old mission of applying science to the common purposes of life.
By achieving this vision, we will be living up to the legacy of our history, President Jackson says. We will make a difference in the lives of students by continuing to educate them to be technological leaders, and we will make a difference in the world by putting technology to the task of addressing the critical societal and global problems of the day. This gift is an affirmation of our work.
The first benefit of this gift is the vote of confidence, agrees David Haviland 64, vice president for Institute Advancement. Second is that everybody is talking about it.
Articles about the $360 million gift appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Associated Press, and newspapers across the country. Between March and May, articles have appeared in more than 250 newspapers around the nation, not counting those in the Capital Region press. The high-profile exposure provides a boost to enterprises throughout the Institute, such as student and faculty recruitment, foundation and individual support, and sponsored research.
Ken Gertz, director of research development and administration in the new Office of the Vice President of Research, is working to cultivate relationships with key state and federal funding agencies to increase the visibility of Rensselaer and ultimately facilitate the match between faculty researchers and the funding agencies.
Now, when I go to the National Institutes of Health, or the National Science Foundation, or NASA, and I tell them Im from Rensselaer, their eyes light up. I have a terrific story to tell them about the new strategic plan, about new facilities and new faculty hires. Theres all this momentum, and I think people are much more interested in knowing about Rensselaer since the gift was announced, Gertz says.
Alumni pride is another positive benefit of the gift, Haviland says. He points to a Sports Illustrated profile on April 9 about Rensselaer hockey legend Adam Oates 85, now captain of the Washington Capitals. The story leads off with Oates asking the interviewer, So did you hear that [somebody] gave $360 million to my alma mater?
Many alumni share his pride. Jeff Kodosky 70 and his wife, Gail, were the first to support the Rensselaer Plan with their gift of $5 million to establish a faculty constellation in physics, information technology, and entrepreneurship. Kodoskys reaction to the March news was enthusiastic.
It was a remarkable gift and a tremendous vote of confidence, he wrote. It makes me proud to be an alumnus. The gift is obviously from someone with vision, confidence, and correct priorities.
The First-Year Highest Priorities
Definition and focus will leverage the $360 million gift while maximizing the power of the Plan. The campus has spent the past year devising performance plans and budgets in preparation for the formal launch of Year 1 of the Rensselaer Plan. All campus units are mobilizing their energies to advance three specific areas defined by the president and the administration as first-year highest priorities:
Each of these priorities takes aim at realizing larger, more overarching goals of the Plan.
The focus on biotechnology and information technology, for instance, provides the framework for Rensselaer to dramatically increase its research activity from $43 million to $100 million per year in five years. Also envisioned is the doubling of the number of doctoral degrees granted annually, from 125 to 250, over the next eight to 10 years. Such increases are critical to elevate research at Rensselaer to the level of its peer institutions.
The first-year experience initiative will support the drive to attract and retain the very best students, faculty, and staff by recognizing the truth of the saying, You only have one chance to make a first impression. Programs that provide a rich and welcoming initial impression will be designed to forge lasting, positive relationships.
The electronic media and performing arts center holds enormous promise to advance the broader goal of enhancing quality of life, broadening the campus outlook, fostering intellectual diversity, and attracting new talent and new audiences to campus.
|"Launching The Plan"|
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