|Shirley Ann Jackson, PH.D.|
Rensselaer Plan initiatives
We are moving on many fronts to strengthen the academic endeavor.
For the first time in many years, we are adding significantly to the strength and numbers of our faculty.
Active recruitment is under way for constellation faculty, those scholars and researchers at the height of their disciplines who will build new programs in biotechnology and information technology. The search committees, headed by Professor Georges Belfort for biotechnology and Professor and Dean of Science Joseph Flaherty for information technology, are traveling around the country to meet with peers who may themselves be potential candidates, or who can identify promising candidates for the recruitment pool. At the same time, the committees have launched a lecture series in both disciplines that brings in high-profile speakers who are educating the campus about these fields and who also can assist in the recruitment process.
Building the faculty extends beyond recruiting for the constellations. This year, Rensselaer will undertake major faculty renewal, hiring 40 new faculty members, including 16 to newly created positions.
We are setting high standards for appointments. I am pleased to report that, in the past two years, 13 of our young faculty members have been named NSF Career Award winners. This is a remarkable record in a highly competitive national program.
The performance plans prepared by each of the schools for the new academic year also call for additional measures to strengthen academics. For example, in order to create critical mass and encourage growth in research, the School of Engineering has made several changes to the structure of its departments. Faculty in Environmental Engineering will be combined with faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering to create the new Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Nuclear Engineering faculty will be combined with faculty in the former Department of Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering and Mechanics to create the new Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering. Finally, the Department of Electric Power Engineering has merged with the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering.
As the year begins, we welcome a first-year class with extraordinary promise. In recruiting this class, Dean of Enrollment Management Teresa Duffy deliberately set out to raise average SAT scores because the academic quality of our students directly impacts the academic excellence of our programs. The Class of 2005 arrives on campus with average SAT scores of 1307, a leap of 25 points.
Meanwhile, we again see the excellent value that we deliver to our graduates in our placement statistics. This year, 775 recruiters vied for 993 Rensselaer graduates of the Class of 2001with each student averaging 10 interviews and seven job offers. Graduates entered the work force with starting salaries that average $53,200 for a bachelors degree and $67,000 for new masters degree recipients.
We welcome the new class with a much enriched student orientation program. One of the priorities of the Rensselaer Plan calls for attention to the first-year experience, those activities and relationships that students build with one another, and with the Institute, as they make the transition from high school to university. Students this year enjoyed options of a wilderness experience, a community service project, or a cultural/historical program that exposed participants to the rich cultural resources of the Capital Region and surrounding areas. Overlaying all these experiences will be an introduction to entrepreneurship, one of Rensselaers historical strengths that differentiates it from peer institutions. With the help of a generous $1 million gift from Michael Herman 62, his wife Karen, and the Herman Family Foundation, we are beginning to infuse the entrepreneurial spirit across the first-year experience.
This brief report would not be complete without mention of progress on our two major building projects, the biotechnology and interdisciplinary studies center, and the electronic media and performing arts center. In this issue of Rensselaer, you can read a full update of progress on these facilities that will transform the campus and the surrounding community.
With vitality and anticipation, we begin the new academic year committed to making it a rewarding one for all who make up our community.
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