General Faculty Meeting

October 18, 1999



Alan Desrochers opened the meeting at 3:30PM.


Prof. Desrochers introduced President Shirley Ann Jackson.


Dr. Jackson gave a presentation of the document “Building the Rensselaer Plan”.  A written copy of this document had been previously sent to all members of the Rensselaer Community.  The goal of the plan is for Rensselaer to be a top tier world-class research university.  We need to be leaders in specific areas with global reach and global impact.


The plan will be built this year and presented to the Board of Trustees at their meeting in May 2000.  The plan needs to be “evergreen” that is it must continue to grow and be assessed each year.  The Performance Plans, which will lead to what will actually happen, will begin to be formed in June 2000.  The draft Rensselaer Plan will be written by the Provost and Vice President for Student Affairs with the rest of the President’s Cabinet as readers.  There will be three kinds of input.  One source of input will be from REALCOM, which will host a series of workshops.  REALCOM will provide white papers from each of their own town meetings, which will be used to write the Draft Plan.  The second source of input will come from portfolio assessments from the Deans and Vice Presidents.  The third source of input will come from the Washington Advisory Group, consisting or Erich Bloch, past NSF Director, Frank Rhodes, past Cornell University President, Frank Press, previous NAS President and John Curry, Executive Vice President at MIT.


The Boundary Conditions that were established by the Cabinet and President shape the enterprise and provide direction for the future.  The Boundary Conditions indicated in the written document were all mentioned.  Some highlights of the presentation.  We will want our undergraduates to be a diversified student body with respect to gender, geographic distribution, intellectually ability and ethnic background.  We want to become a Carnegie Research I Institution with world class standing.  We need to double our research volume in about 3 years.  We need to identify “must do” areas such as Biotechnology.  In the area of Education for a Working Professional our programs must be high-end with a unique content.  In the area of Fostering Science and Technological Innovation we must leverage our intellectual capital and must have an environment that promotes entrepreneurial activities.


Enabling Activities were presented.  During this presentation the President indicated that a goal would be to increase the endowment to double its current size.  We can raise $500 million.  Capital projects and planning must be derived from Institutes priorities and we must practice prudent fiscal management.  Our staff should be the best and we should compensate them at that level.  We will be hiring a Vice President for Human Resources.  Trustees must provide financial stewardship and leadership.  President Jackson has told the board that we need $100 million today.


Each Portfolio owner must supply a portfolio assessment that answers five questions.  The opportunity is here for the Rensselaer Community to decide what programs we need and what we do not.



Many alumni do not have good impressions of Rensselaer.  How will this plan address some of these issues?

President Jackson: I will be meeting with as many students as I can.  I have meetings planned for the freshman and upper class dorms.  We need to look forward and move in the right direction.  People want their alma mater to be recognized as the best.  People will support an important Institution.


I am concerned why the Draft Plan will mainly be available during intersession when many students and faculty will not be on campus.

President Jackson: The urgency of getting this done by the May Board Meeting does not give us a lot of flexibility.  That is why we will be putting the Draft on the web, where people will be able to access it even if they are not on campus.


How will the direction of the schools be determined?

President Jackson: You will have the opportunity to define the direction.  You will also be asked to determine if the direction is relevant.  We need to identify new areas as well as areas we are already strong in.


How were students selected?

Doyle Daves: The Vice President for Student Affairs was asked to provide names of students.  However, all students will be asked for their input.  They are welcome to the REALCOM workshops.


Can we have some of the information gathered shared with the RPI Community?

President Jackson: The information from REALCOM should be useful to the whole Institute and if possible will be made available.


If we double research, does that mean we will teach less?

President Jackson: We do not want to lose focus on what we do well.  We also need to improve Research.


How do we get policies implemented?  I cannot find where some policies are written?

President Jackson: Send me an email if there is a need to have policies written and in place.


I do not see any mention of undergraduate research, will that be included?

President Jackson: We want to increase all research efforts; however there is a specific emphasis on graduate research.