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The Spy Who Loves Us

You never know where you’ll run into Rensselaer. Perhaps while reading a Tom Clancy novel.

Clancy’s best sellers featuring CIA operative-turned-President Jack Ryan are filled with hard-hitting, action-packed, in-your-face prose that pulls no punches. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise, then, that Clancy is also a hockey fan.

Tom Clancy books

G.P. Putnam's Sons

Clancy, who spoke at Rensselaer’s Commencement ceremony in 1992 and received an honorary doctorate in humane letters, has included brief mentions of Rensselaer and its hockey prowess in a couple of his books.

“When I got my honorary doctorate there, I learned about the ice hockey and used it because one of my characters is a hockey fan,” Clancy says. “It’s also a good engineering school, so I learned, and I like engineers.”

In 1996’s Executive Orders, President Jack Ryan meets with members of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, who have just won the Stanley Cup. Ryan chats with one of the team members, telling him that his CIA director, Ed Foley, is a big hockey fan. Foley’s son, also a hockey player, is thinking about college.

“I’m not sure what colleges they’re thinking about. I think they said Eddie wants to study engineering,” Ryan tells the hockey player.

“Tell them to send the kid to Rensselaer. It’s a good tech school up by Albany.”

“Why there?”

“Those damned nerds win the college championship every other year. I went to Minnesota, and they cleaned our clock twice in a row.”

Rensselaer shows up again in 2000’s The Bear and the Dragon, in a conversation between CIA Director Ed Foley and his wife.

“ ‘Even better than Eddie’s marks at school,’ she replied, with a soft, sexy smile... Ed Foley Jr. was kicking ass up at Rensselaer Polytechnic in New York, and a starter on their hockey team... Little Ed might earn a place on the Olympic team, though pro hockey was out. He’d make too much money as a computer engineer to waste his time in so pedestrian a pursuit...”
Rensselaer Magazine: Summer 2004
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