|Shirley Ann Jackson, PH.D.|
Recent international travel extends Rensselaers worldwide impact
The innovation energy today being unleashed around the world presents many significant opportunities for Rensselaer. Strategic international relationships, particularly with countries that are on the cusp of rapid technological change, hold great promise. These countries need much of what Rensselaer can offer, and in turn, they offer much of value to Rensselaer.
In April, in line with the Rensselaer Plan and our developing international strategy, I led Rensselaer delegations on two international trips, first to AsiaMalaysia, Singapore, Japan, and Chinaand the following week to Venezuela.
As we set our sights on leadership as a world-class research university, we are working to establish a higher profile and greater prestige for Rensselaer in these countries. We will enliven our campus community by establishing international student and faculty exchange programs, by forging strategic research relationships with premier international universities and research institutions, and by expanding the Institutes markets for distributed executive education. We will strengthen our ties to alumni with strategies to enhance our reputation in their home countries, thus increasing the value of the Rensselaer degree. Rensselaer, in turn, benefits immeasurably from their assistance toward our international goals.
The recent trips bore fruit toward each of these purposes.
In Malaysia, I was pleased to serve as a keynote speaker at a conference about the university role in the new knowledge economy, organized by the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia. Along with two Rensselaer faculty members, we were able to spread the word about Rensselaer among the government, university, and corporate communities in Malaysia. Our trips also raised our international profile in the media. I appeared on CNBCs Asian Working Woman program in Singapore, I was interviewed by the official Xinhua news agency in China and by El Globo and El Nacional newspapers in Venezuela.
Similarly, we made solid progress toward increasing our educational collaborations. We signed a cooperative agreement, for example, with the National University of Singapore, the countrys pre-eminent university, ranked fifth among Asian universities according to the 2000 Asiaweek report. The agreement will set the stage for faculty and student exchanges as well as possible future research collaborations. This exchange offers us the opportunity to expose our students to the cosmopolitan character of Singapore, one of East Asias most vital nations, which lies at the doorstep of several Asian cultures. Similarly, we visited Peking University in Beijing, one of Chinas top universities, and Universidad Simón Bolívar, Venezuelas leading technological university.
Of significant interest to our international hosts, particularly those in industry, is access to Rensselaers executive education programs. We have signed agreements with the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas to begin delivery of masters-level courses to working professionals, and we continue to seek new opportunities. In Beijing, our visit stimulated interest in Rensselaer executive programs from the ministry in charge of that countrys entire media and publishing industries.
In Japan, we signed a gratifying agreement with the Yamada Corporation that creates an endowed professorship, as well as fellowships for Japanese graduate students. The first Yamada Professor will be in the School of Engineering.
Throughout our trip, we encountered a warm reception and matchless assistance from international alumni. In Malaysia, for example, we met Dato Ramli Mohamad 82, managing director of United Engineers (Berhad) Malaysia, a leading infrastructure company in East Asia and builder of the countrys major highways and the new international airport in Kuala Lumpur, and Nick Zefferys 61, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Malaysia. In Singapore, Kay Tai hosted a lovely dinner for the Rensselaer delegation and local alumni on the very day that her husband, Rensselaer Trustee Jackson Tai 72, president of the Development Bank of Singapore, was finalizing a deal to buy the fourth largest bank in Hong Kong.
During our stay in Beijing, Rensselaer was delighted to host the first formal gathering of alumni in China. More than 25 alumni, most of whom had earned their MBAs at Rensselaer in the Sino-U.S. MBA (SUMBA) program, joined the event with their families. Napoleón Ferrer 55 and volunteers from the Rensselaer Alumni Association of Venezuela arranged an outstanding series of appointments for us in Venezuela, including meetings with the Minister of Science and Technology and with a joint session of the Academies of Engineering and Science of Venezuela, which surprised me with induction into the Academy of Science.
As we continue to refine our international strategy, we will extend our reach beyond the countries and continents where Rensselaer has a significant alumni presence. We will be making decisions about those nations where Rensselaer has to be in order to achieve global reach and global impact. As always, I would be most interested in your thoughts about our plans, and most appreciative of your assistance.
If youd like to read President Jacksons Malaysia talk or other speeches shes delivered, go to www.rpi.edu/web/President and click on speeches.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), 110 8th St., Troy, NY 12180. (518) 276-6000