Fall General Faculty Meeting
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Auditorium
2 to 4 p.m.
Thank you, Dr. (Achille) Messac for that introduction.
Good afternoon. And,
greetings to our colleagues at
Today, I will review a few highlights of our progress, to set the stage for a high-level discussion about what we envision a top-tier university should be—and your role in it—by offering a series of questions.
Your work offers the
substance and content of the ongoing Renaissance at
· Faculty growth continues, with 150 new faculty in nearly 75 new positions, well on our way to the goal of 100 new faculty positions.
· The student/faculty ratio is reduced from 17:1 to 14:1. For undergraduates, the ratio is 11.3:1.
· Institute research expenditures are at an all-time high: $69.58 million in Fiscal Year 2005; a 19 percent increase over the previous year.
· Federal research dollar expenditures have increased by 12 percent to $50 million.
bring distinction to individuals and to the Institute. Five faculty members
recently have been honored with the prestigious National Science Foundation
Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, the most prestigious honor for
university researchers in the beginning of their careers. Since 2000, more than
· We continue to attract top-tier students. The Class of 2009 entered this fall with an average SAT score of 1320. SAT scores have risen nearly 60 points in the last six years.
We have invested
more than $400 million in academic, research, and student life facilities. This
brought us the wonderful building we are in today, as well as the Experimental
Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC). (I am sure you have noticed the
progress that has been made on EMPAC construction in recent months. And, I hope
you had the opportunity to attend the spectacular EMPAC 360 event, which drew
an obviously “wowed” audience of more than 2,000 people. It truly was a
memorable evening on the
leadership of Vice President and Dean John Minasian, the parallel transformation
of Rensselaer at
· We recently welcomed two new academic deans: Dr. Alan Cramb, dean of engineering; and Dr. David Gautschi, dean of the Lally School of Management and Technology.
· The fund-raising campaign, Renaissance at Rensselaer: The Campaign for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has raised more than $650 toward the goal of $1 billion.
testament to all these accomplishments,
We must continue—and expand—this drive to excellence, which has undergirded the realization of the goals of The Rensselaer Plan the last five years.
Two weeks ago, I distributed a memo describing one of the key initiatives for this year: The Undergraduate Plan. This is a concerted effort, by the Institute, to realize a goal in The Rensselaer Plan: to provide an “undergraduate experience which surpasses all others.” While a number of improvements have been made to the undergraduate experience in recent years, it is time to move to the next level, in a very focused and comprehensive way, in this fundamentally important core enterprise. The plan will complement—and strengthen—our focus on building the research program and graduate education, as research and learning are inextricably linked in great universities.
Specifically, The Undergraduate Plan will focus on the development of the following:
Of course, there are important undergirding initiatives which we must put into action to enable The Undergraduate Plan. These initiatives include the enhancement of academic programs and offerings, academic support services, and world-class instructional facilities.
Your help is essential. I have asked Dr. Prabhat Hajela, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, to work across all portfolios to expand academic programs in targeted areas. Provost Bud Peterson is working with deans, department chairs, center directors, and faculty, to ensure that we have the capabilities to achieve our goals. And, Vice President for Student Life Eddie Ade Knowles is focusing on the student experience.
It is extremely important to the future of this university that we raise the level of the undergraduate experience, as we prepare our students for the challenging, complex, and, in many ways, increasingly fragile world that awaits them.
When we began developing The Rensselaer Plan six years ago, we posed five questions to help to shape our work. They were as follows:
defines the intellectual core in each key discipline or enterprise at
· In these disciplines, are we in a leadership position? Do we set the standard and the agenda?
· If we are not in a leadership position, do we have the underlying strengths and capabilities necessary to move rapidly into a position of primacy with the proper focus and investment?
· Are there areas that are so vital that we must create a presence in order to stand in the community of world-class universities?
· What areas of current endeavor must we be willing to transform—or to give up—in order to focus our resources and our energies to create the impact we envision?
These questions still are relevant. Indeed, it is important to pose, periodically, these questions to ourselves, and to each other, as we continue to fulfill the promise of the Plan.
So, today, I will begin our discussion by offering some more questions about how we can achieve further excellence in education and research, which we deeply cherish.
· In relation to the development of the Undergraduate Plan, what elements are essential to form a truly comprehensive, engaging, and distinctive undergraduate experience?
· How do we attract talented, promising, and diverse faculty, and enable them to fully realize their research and teaching potential?
How does faculty
recruiting, retention, and support for research at
What are the
academic and research areas in which
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, your insights, and your suggestions.
Now I would be happy to entertain questions and discussion.
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