The last five years have seen significant changes in the highest levels of leadership at Rensselaer. Following the resignation of Dr. R. Byron Pipes in April 1998, Rensselaer was led for the next 15 months by Acting President Neal Barton, Ph.D., an alumnus, retired business leader, and trustee.

On July 1, 1999, the Honorable Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson became the Institute's 18th president. A physicist with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Jackson had most recently served five years as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She arrived at Rensselaer with a mandate from the Board of Trustees to transform the university and an expansive vision for its future, which she announced in her inaugural address [Appendix 2].

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

The most significant changes and accomplishments at Rensselaer since the last Middle States review have resulted from the incumbency of President Jackson. She has led the Institute in its first comprehensive strategic planning endeavor in 25 years, created new positions to facilitate the plan's success, hired new leaders, revamped the budgeting process to ensure its strict adherence to strategic planning, and inspired unprecedented financial support for her vision.

The Rensselaer Plan

The new strategic plan -- The Rensselaer Plan -- is a comprehensive strategy for transforming Rensselaer into a "top-tier world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact." Unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees on May 12, 2000, The Rensselaer Plan [Appendix 3] articulates the overarching vision and provides the framework to inform decision making and establish institutional priorities. In more than 140 "we will" statements, The Plan commits the university to action on many fronts.

Next, each of the Institute's "portfolios" (the academic schools, academic functions, and administrative divisions1) spells out in a Performance Plan exactly how it will accomplish the full array of Rensselaer Plan goals. The three-year Performance Plans, which include metrics for evaluating progress, will be revised annually. Many of the subsequent sections of this Periodic Review Report include more detail about the performance planning process and resulting strategic goals.

As the activities proposed by the individual Performance Plans are assigned priorities, they serve to define Institutewide priorities. The highest institutional priorities for the first year of the Plan (beginning July 1, 2001) are:

ˇ Biotechnology and Information Technology Initiatives

Work in these areas includes (1) recruiting high-profile "constellations" of faculty, consisting of senior-level "star" researchers surrounded by junior faculty, graduate fellows, and undergraduate students, and (2) design and construction of a Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.

ˇ First-Year Experience

This year-long program aimed at creating a deepening, life-long connection between Rensselaer and its students will begin in September with revamped and enriched student orientation programming.

ˇ Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center

Construction of this new building will foster an enriched cultural environment, broaden campus discourse, showcase Rensselaer's signature offerings in the electronic arts, and reach out to the Capital Region communities and beyond.

Finally, based on its Performance Plan, each portfolio prepared a Performance Budget showing how that school or division will achieve its goals. In these activity-based budgets, spending is keyed to performance planning, which in turn is consistent with strategic planning and the realization of The Rensselaer Plan. {See also See THE RENSSELAER PLAN AND PERFORMANCE PLANNING. and See BUDGETING AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO PLANNING..}

At every level, what Rensselaer commits to do will be an institutional priority that will drive spending decisions. The Performance Budgets submitted by each portfolio became components of the 2001-2002 Institute budget prepared by President Jackson and approved by the Board of Trustees on February 16, 2001.

President's Cabinet

Changes to the President's Cabinet clearly reflect the priorities of The Rensselaer Plan. [See Appendix 4 for an Organization Chart.]

Vice President for Research

The most significant transformation envisioned by The Rensselaer Plan is a greatly expanded research portfolio. This initiative includes increasing research from $43 million to $100 million per year in five years and doubling, from 125 to 250, the number of doctoral degrees granted annually over the next eight to 10 years.

Dr. Jackson created and filled the new position of vice president for research to provide support and focus for research endeavors across the entire university. In this position, Dr. Arthur Sanderson, a member of the Rensselaer faculty since 1987, is working to coordinate, enable, fund, and publicize research throughout the Institute. The Office of Contracts and Grants and the Office of Technology Commercialization have been moved into this division.


The Rensselaer Plan promises to "enhance national leadership in innovative learning and teaching by providing outstanding and distinctive education for resident undergraduates and graduate students, and for working professionals."

Dr. Jackson restored the position of provost, which had been eliminated by her predecessor, to ensure the highest quality academic programs and faculty. G.P. "Bud" Peterson, formerly the College of Engineering Tenneco Professor, associate vice chancellor, and executive associate dean of engineering at Texas A&M University, has been in this position since July 1, 2000.

Vice President for Human Resources

The Rensselaer Plan promises to "make Rensselaer an employer of choice among faculty and staff by developing uniform policies and approaches to critical human resource activities, and partnering between Human Resources and other academic and administrative divisions to establish optimal strategies, policies, and procedures."

Dr. Jackson underscored the importance of the human resources endeavor and the vital contributions of people to a great university by moving the human resources office out of the Administration Division and creating a new Human Resources Division under its own vice president. Curtis Powell, former corporate director for human resources at Suburban Hospital Healthcare System in Bethesda, Maryland, assumed the position on July 1, 2000.

General Counsel

In January 2000, Dr. Jackson named Charles F. Carletta, attorney at law, to the dual position of secretary of the Institute and general counsel. While neither position is new, in the past the role of general counsel had been filled by the law firm Pattison, Sampson, Ginsberg & Griffin, P.C. of Troy on an as-needed basis. As a member of that firm, Mr. Carletta had represented and advised Rensselaer for many years.

In bringing the counsel position into the university, Dr. Jackson assigned the office overall responsibility for legal issues at Rensselaer, beginning with participation in all major Institute planning activities. This is a significant shift from dealing with legal problems as they arise to preventing problems from the outset. By joining legal responsibilities to those of the secretary of the Institute, the scope of the combined position has been significantly upgraded and its relationship to the Board of Trustees enlarged.

Vice President for Government Relations

To facilitate expanded research programming and funding and to promote Rensselaer's growing presence on the national and international technology scene, the Government Relations office was moved to Washington, D.C. As a result, Larry Snavley, vice president for government relations, now oversees Rensselaer's interaction with science and technology decision makers in the nation's capital. Interaction with New York and Connecticut state governments and local entities is carried out by Government Relations staff at the Troy campus.

Chief Information Officer

This position, formerly dean of computing and information services in the Office of the Provost, has been expanded and upgraded to cabinet level, reporting directly to the president (although the CIO is not an officer of the Institute). This organizational change was made to ensure that the power of information technology will be available for managerial decision making, provide greater efficiency in business processes, and enable highly effective communication and collaboration throughout the campus. John Kolb, the former dean of computing and information services, was promoted to this new position.

Critical vacancies: In addition, Dr. Jackson has filled or is filling a number of other vital leadership positions.

Dean of the School of Engineering: William A. Baeslack III, a Rensselaer alumnus and former vice president for research at the Ohio State University, assumed this position November 1, 1999.

Dean of the School of Science: Vacated when G. Doyle Daves was named Rensselaer interim provost in 1999, this position is held on an interim basis by Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, professor of biology. On May 11, 2001, Dr. Joseph Flaherty, professor of computer science, was appointed as the Dean of Science.

Vice President for Student Life: Following a nationwide search, Eddie Ade Knowles, former dean of students and a long-time Rensselaer administrator, was named vice president for student life. He had been serving in an interim capacity since February 2000.

Vice President for Institute Advancement: David Haviland, alumnus, professor and former dean of Architecture, and former vice president for student life, was named to this position in September 2000 after serving seven months as interim.

Dean of the Lally School of Management and Technology: A nationwide search is under way. Prof. Robert Baron has been appointed the interim dean of the Lally School.

Vice President for Administration: Claude D. Rounds will become vice president for administration effective June 4, 2001. Mr. Rounds has more than 30 years of experience in all aspects of facilities and property management and recently completed fifteen years of service as vice president for plant management at Albany Medical Center.

Progress and recent developments in most of the offices reporting directly to the president are described in subsequent sections of this report.

Extraordinary Financial Support and Progress On First-Year Priorities

In December 2000, 18 months into the planning process, Dr. Jackson secured a gift of $130 million from an anonymous donor. Then, in March of this year, that same donor increased the gift to $360 million -- making it at that time the largest single gift to a university in the United States.

This bold endorsement of The Rensselaer Plan has galvanized the campus and jump-started efforts to transform the Institute. An unrestricted gift, Rensselaer has complete discretion in its use.

Plans are well under way to construct two new buildings identified as first-year priorities. The first is the 200,000-square-foot Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Center, a facility that will house cutting-edge research programs. By April 2001 the contract to design the building had been awarded, the program scope had been defined, a construction manager has been hired, and site work had begun.

The second new facility, a 130,000-square-foot Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center, will enrich the campus by creating a more lively and intellectually stimulating environment. An international architectural competition is in progress to select a world-class architect for this facility.

A new office has been created in the Division of Student Life to accomplish the Rensselaer Plan priority of restructuring and enriching the overall first-year experience for students. Lisa Trahan, formerly associate dean of students, was named dean of the Office of the First-Year Experience April 1, 2001, to head the effort.

Research activity has also advanced significantly. Total research funding has increased 17 percent in the last calendar year and faculty are submitting proposals at an aggressive pace. Rensselaer and Cornell led New York state last year in the number of prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER awards to faculty (8 each). On March 28, 2001, Dr. Jackson announced the formation of a major new research center, the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center, that will integrate research, education, and technology commercialization through partnerships with government and industry. The center, which already has federal funding in excess of $1 million per year, will focus on creating novel materials and devices.

Faculty for the first of seven research constellations -- in bioinformatics and biocomputation -- has been formed already with two renowned scientists at the helm. International recruitment is now in progress for six more faculty constellations, three each in information technology and in biotechnology.

The results described above can be attributed to President Jackson's commitment to translate the strategic plan into performance. In less than a year and a half, The Rensselaer Plan was developed, performance planning was completed, a new performance budgeting model was created and implemented, and the first performance-based budget had received approval from the Board of Trustees.


Rensselaer has long taken great pride in graduates who are highly prized by employers, have immediate impact, and assume leadership positions in technology-based fields. In times of very rapid technological change, our graduates cannot do this unless they are educated in an environment of leading-edge research and innovation. By building research programs and involving students in research activity, Rensselaer will preserve and enhance its historic strength in undergraduate education and build new prestige in graduate education.

The most significant transformation posited by The Rensselaer Plan is the imperative that Rensselaer create a research portfolio of substantially greater size, quality, prominence, and impact. The Plan sets its sights on tier-one ranking among U.S. technological research universities, with a goal of expanding research funding from $43 million to $100 million annually in five years and doubling, from 125 to 250, the number of doctorates awarded annually over the next eight to 10 years. The Office of the Vice President for Research was created by President Jackson to enable this growth.

The Research Portfolio

Rensselaer has excelled in frontier research, and has achieved international distinction in many fields. Interdisciplinary centers of excellence with strong industrial participation have been a hallmark, involving focused research programs in microelectronics, industrial automation, scientific computation, composite materials, polymer synthesis, environmental ecosystems, image processing, electronic media, lighting, civil infrastructure, multiphase systems, services, and entrepreneurship. These programs integrate basic and applied research with industrial needs, and have developed a base of support from complementary federal, state, and industry sources. The Institute currently has 24 research centers focused on a wide variety of technologies. [See Appendix 5 for a complete list.] In calendar year 2000, total research volume at Rensselaer was $45.3 million.

Each year, faculty receive professional recognition for their contributions in a wide range of fields. Partnerships with other laboratories and institutions are growing as models for research. Examples include cooperative programs in networking and communications, power electronics, earthquake engineering, transportation studies, and semiconductor manufacturing.

As science and technology play an increasingly important role in our society and economy, social, political, and economic studies of policies and impacts are an essential part of the Rensselaer research portfolio. These programs cut across the scientific disciplines, provide important commentary on ethics and outcomes, and enrich the intellectual environment of the Institute, engaging faculty and students in the dialogue of "why" and "what if," and not just "how."

Core Research Strengths

An essential component of the strategy to increase prominence in research lies in identifying areas of existing distinction that represent future growth and broad impact in key research areas. These core strengths represent opportunities for the Institute's continuing leadership in fields that promise increased significance, new intellectual challenges, and relevance to broad societal and technological needs. Rensselaer will build on three core research strengths:

  • Microelectronics, photonics, and microsystems technologies
  • Advanced materials and nanotechnology
  • Modeling and simulation of complex systems

Each core research strength cuts across multiple schools and departments, exemplifies interdisciplinary effort, and holds promise for stimulating the development of new fields of research. Each has achieved distinction and each serves as a sound foundation for continued progress.

New Research Arenas: Information Technology and Biotechnology

As an early and integral component of the strategy to enhance position and distinction, we are focusing investment in two Institutewide research arenas: information technology and biotechnology.

Biotechnology and information technology are pervasive in their influence and increasingly dependent on core disciplines such as mathematics, materials, and microelectronics. Rather than Rensselaer moving toward these fields, they are moving toward us. A careful strategy to select and pursue areas of focus that match our core strengths are critical to realizing the opportunity for research growth and influence.

Information Technology Research Focus

An internal Information Technology Task Force recommended three core technology focal areas in information technology for strategic emphasis in building Rensselaer research programs. These three areas all offer potential for building successful new research efforts with high visibility and wide impact. The first two of these areas set primarily new directions beyond our current research strengths, while the third area is more closely linked to our current research strength in scientific computation.

  • Future Chips
  • Pervasive Computing and Distributed Intelligent Systems
  • Multiscale Computation
Biotechnology Technology Research Focus

An Internal Strategic Planning Committee for Biotechnology was charged to review current research strengths and future opportunities for biotechnology research at Rensselaer. A site visit from an external panel provided important guidance to the committee's recommendations.

Four core technology areas were identified as primary opportunities for expanding biotechnology research at Rensselaer:

  • Functional Tissue Engineering
  • Integrative Systems Biology
  • Biocomputation and Bioinformatics
  • Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering

Identified as critical to these efforts and well matched to the strengths and potential of Rensselaer was the area of enabling technology that includes bioinstrumentation, biosensors, and biochips. Areas of existing strength to which proposed major themes link include nanotechnology; microelectronics and microsystems; scientific computation, modeling, and simulation; bioprocessing and bioseparations; polymer synthesis; intelligent systems and robotics; image and signal processing; and social science of technology.

Significant growth in these research programs will require attention to related policy issues and significant new investment in research infrastructure including high-performance computing facilities and networks, human infrastructure support, specialized facilities for life sciences research, professional staffing, seed funding, and research incentives.


Rensselaer's resident student population is currently 6,981 -- 5,103 undergraduates and 1,878 graduate students. Since 1995, the undergraduate population has increased by more than 700 students (17 percent increase), while the graduate student enrollment on the Troy campus has decreased slightly.

Rensselaer's student body also includes 2,700 part-time working professionals in graduate programs at Rensselaer at Hartford and executive programs offered through the Professional and Distance Education Office. These numbers are expected to grow significantly as programs geared for corporate executives, advanced professionals, and technological entrepreneurs are targeted. {Projections for growth are included in See ENROLLMENT TRENDS AND PROJECTIONS..}

The percentage of women students has increased from 22.9 percent to 25.2 percent. There has also been a slight increase in the number of underrepresented minorities attending Rensselaer.

Perhaps the most significant change can be seen in intellectual diversity. For example, the number of undergraduate majors in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences has increased from 65 in 1995 to 267 in 2000. Innovative new programs offered by the Arts and Communication departments have attracted students interested in pursuing the arts through the use of technology. Rensselaer's goal is to become increasingly diverse, and excellent students with intellectual, geographical, gender, and ethnic diversity are being vigorously recruited.

Rensselaer's freshmen retention rate has shown improvement. Of the fall 2000 incoming class, 92.1 percent returned as sophomores, compared to 89.3 percent in 1996. There is also a steady increase in the graduation rate, with 75.2 percent of students now graduating in six years. New programs will support Rensselaer's goal to continue to improve on these numbers.

The 2000 Senior Survey details the responses of more than 700 exiting students. This year and last year, 57 percent of the seniors surveyed indicated they are satisfied or very satisfied with their overall Rensselaer experience, up from 55 percent in 1996 and 45 percent in 1992 and 1993. Adding the category of "at least somewhat satisfied" brings the overall satisfaction level to 79 percent this year, up from 77 percent last year. Eighty-five percent of the seniors are at least somewhat satisfied with their academic experience.

Student Life

The assessment phase of The Rensselaer Plan process reaffirmed the mission of the Student Life Division, which is to enable Rensselaer to educate the leaders of tomorrow by (1) supporting and assisting resident students in achieving personal and academic success, both as individuals and as members of groups and communities, and (2) providing services and facilities that accomplish the above and help create enthusiastic alumni/alumnae.

The Student Life Division is organized into eight departments and has many connections with the five schools, the Provost's Office, and the administrative divisions. The Student Life departments are as follows:

  • Athletics
  • Archer Center for Student Leadership Development
  • Career Development Center
  • Dean of Students
  • First-Year Experience
  • Rensselaer Union
  • Residence Life
  • Student Health Center
  • Student Records and Financial Services
Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

To fill the leadership vacancy created by the movement of the incumbent vice president for Student Life to the Advancement Division, an interim vice president for Student Life was appointed in February 2000; the search for a permanent vice president was successfully concluded in April 2001 with the appointment of Eddie Ade Knowles. Before that, the appointment of Dr. Knowles (a long-time Rensselaer student life administrator) as interim vice president, provided continuity during the important Institutewide planning and budget process recently completed.

Highlights of changes to the Student Life Division, progress on many fronts, and plans for the future are discussed for each department on the pages that follow.


Effective May 2000, the Undergraduate Admissions Office moved out of the Student Life Division and merged with the resident Graduate Admissions Office, creating a new Office of Enrollment Management. This department now reports to the provost. The new enterprise has begun reaching out even more aggressively into the very competitive international and domestic markets for the best and brightest students to populate the growing graduate programs.

The positive growth in quality of students that has been the hallmark of the undergraduate recruitment effort for the past several years continues. Applications to Rensselaer's undergraduate programs increased steadily from 4,543 in 1995 to 5,479 in 2000. In that same time period the selectivity rate dropped from 84.7 percent in 1995 to its current level of 73.2 percent.

Financial Aid

The total cost of a Rensselaer undergraduate education for academic year 2000-01 is $33,474. Eighty-seven percent of the undergraduate student body needs some form of financial aid. The Enrollment Planning Committee has continued to propose admissions and aid policies to meet the Institute's annual enrollment, quality, diversity, pricing aid, and revenue goals. Institute goals have been met or exceeded for the past four years using this process.

The student loan default rate for federal loan programs for fiscal year 1998 is a very low 2.3 percent, compared to the 1996 rate of 3.9 percent. This rate reflects favorably on the quality of aid packaging and accounts receivable practices. Low default rates can also be viewed as another positive result of efforts to recruit and graduate high-quality students who are committed to their education.

With the consolidation of undergraduate and graduate admissions, the Financial Aid Office (a unit of the Student Records and Financial Services Department) was able to move into what had been the Graduate Center in August 2000. The newly designed and renovated space provides a more private and personal counseling environment for students and their families.

The focus for the future is on providing seamless service to students. Of critical importance is identifying students with complex financial circumstances in order to provide appropriate counseling and assist them in making a Rensselaer education affordable.


Several new facilities have given Rensselaer a competitive advantage. Robison Field (2001), Harkness Field (1994), and the Mueller Fitness Center, which was dedicated in May 2000, have provided this added edge. The Fitness Center is maintained jointly with the students through the Rensselaer Union. This partnership is significant as each contributes to the sports program with both human and financial resources. Of approximately 130 Union-sponsored organizations, more than 30 are athletic clubs. The Union also serves as a partner in intramurals and intercollegiate athletics, providing operating budgets for all varsity programs.

Rensselaer's multi-level sports program offers a diverse group of student athletes of all skill levels an opportunity to participate in healthy, competitive, and extracurricular activities that foster the development of the whole person. A master plan for athletics was developed by the architectural firm Sasaki Associates in 1999, which reviewed the current facilities and recommended opportunities for growth in the future. As part of the campus planning process, the Athletics Department has identified the development of the athletics facilities on the east campus as a priority.

Participation in athletics and recreation, including intramural, club, and varsity sports continues to be high. The coaches, trainers, and staff are dedicated not only to winning but also to retaining and graduating student athletes. The coaching staff plays a significant role in recruiting students, and they have expanded their roles in this process.

The Athletics Task Force report in 1999 identified women's ice hockey as the best candidate for a move to Division I, as did a recent assessment of student interest and changing demographics. Rensselaer appointed a head coach for Women's Ice Hockey in fall 2000 in order to move to the next step of elevating women's hockey to Division I status.

First-Year Experience

The first-year experience for all students (freshmen, transfer, and graduate students) was identified as one of the Institute's highest priorities in The Rensselaer Plan. A Task Force on the First-Year Experience was appointed in April 2000 to study this priority with the charge to "restructure student orientation programs to build strong affinity groups -- including wilderness, community-based, cultural or other team-building experiences -- that will commence before classes begin and continue into the first semester." Their work has been completed and recommendations were included in the Student Life Performance Plan.

As a result of this study, the Office of the First-Year Experience was established on April 1, 2001, through a major reorganization of the Dean of Students Office. A new dean position was created, and filled, to lead the initiative. The dean of the Office of the First-Year Experience reports directly to the vice president for Student Life.

The work of this office began immediately with responsibility for planning and coordinating orientation programs for freshmen, transfers, and graduate students as outlined in the Task Force Report. In addition to orientation programs, the new office will integrate the concept of building "communiversity" within the first year experience programs and continue to develop activities that are consistent with the Institute's goals to increase community and university joint celebrations and other events of mutual benefit.

Additional strategic steps can and will be taken by other Student Life departments to further enhance the efforts of the Office of the First-Year Experience. This is an opportunity not just to improve the experience of new students but to advance the overall quality of the student experience for all students as well.

Health Center

The Rensselaer Health Center was awarded three-year accreditation in its first review by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care in December 1996. In December of 1999 the Health Center was reaccredited. Rensselaer's is the only accredited student health service in the Capital District.

In recent years the Health Center has expanded health services for women students as more and more women have chosen Rensselaer. Additional services will be needed as the student population becomes more diverse. These services were identified as a priority in the recent planning initiative.

The Health Center has been proactive in terms of preventive screening. A voluntary screening for TB was implemented during the 2000-01 academic year with more than 400 students, faculty, and staff participating. A voluntary meningitis vaccination program was implemented in fall 1999 and almost 4,000 students have been vaccinated.

When one student was hospitalized with meningococcal meningitis in February 2001, Health Center personnel swiftly administered 1,885 free vaccinations to students, faculty, and staff. The student recovered and no other cases of the disease occurred.

The Health Center was remodeled in the summer of 1999. The renovation was designed to complement the wellness programs and increase emphasis on health education to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Rensselaer Union

The Rensselaer Union underwent extensive renovation in the 1999-2000 academic year. The revitalization has resulted in greatly enhanced services, including state-of-the-art wireless Internet transmission that makes the Union a national leader. State-of-the-art technology is now provided in a comfortable and casual setting that meets the needs of mobile, team-oriented education. The Union serves as the welcoming front door of the campus and this renovation provided a much-needed face-lift.

Service and community development is a priority of the Union. Community Service Days provide a sense of camaraderie and purpose for many members of the Rensselaer community. In April 1999 more than 400 students, faculty, and staff participated in a Service Day contributing more than 1,000 hours of work. Additionally, the Union coordinates unique outreach activities that bring the community to the campus, such as the well-established International Festival, and Fall Fest, a celebration of communiversity.

As noted earlier in the section on Athletics, the Rensselaer Union is an important partner in a wide array of athletic and recreational sports and in maintaining the Fitness Center.

The Union has also expanded its collaboration with the School of Humanities and Social Science to support performing arts organizations and a rapidly growing music program. Through their combined efforts, the quality of the performing space in West Hall Auditorium has been improved. The Union will build on this collaboration by joining student performing arts activities with the academic endeavors of the Arts Department. The new Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center will set the stage for a "universally accessible" facility to accommodate a wealth of activities.

Archer Center for Student Leadership Development

The Archer Center has continued to be a hallmark of leadership programs nationwide. It was cited by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators for its excellence in leadership. The Center's mission is to provide leadership education that facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration, ethical awareness, teamwork, discovery, creativity, and action that bridges theory to practice.

The Archer Center has added staff to respond to the demand for leadership education. They are currently teaching Professional Development I and Professional Development III for the School of Engineering to more than 700 students. In addition, they are teaching Management Leadership I and Management Leadership II to more than 200 students in the Lally School of Management and Technology. Discussion is under way with the faculty of Information Technology to develop a similar program for Information Technology majors. Eventually, leadership education will be a part of all Institute programs.

The Archer Center continues to provide leadership and professional development, through Rensselaer Union programs, to clubs, student government, and residence hall staff. New programs, workshops, and leadership experiences will be created to connect first-year students to the Institute academically, socially, and professionally.

In light of the growing strategic importance of the Archer Center, a restructuring has changed the reporting line; the Center director now reports directly to the vice president for Student Life.

Residence Life

Barton Hall, a new residence for freshmen which opened in fall 2000, was designed to meet the needs of the next generation of Rensselaer students. It is an extension of the Institute's collaborative studio learning environments and is fully loaded for laptop and data communication. This new facility has set a new standard and raised the level of expectation among the students.

In the summer of 1999, new wiring was added to all of the residence halls to provide ethernet connections for all students living in campus housing. This "port to every pillow" project provided easy accessibility to the campus network. Cable TV connections were added at the same time.

The Office of Residence Life continues to focus on developing programs to meet student needs. Theme-oriented housing or community-based residential communities for small groups of students is seen as one way to meet those needs. A coffee house theme-oriented hall has attracted interested students and plans are under way to make it happen.

In collaboration with the Administration Division, Residence Life will review the housing renewal plan developed by consultants, to begin a rolling renovation of the residence halls. Opportunities for expanding the base of housing options beyond the existing housing stock will be investigated to meet the demands for graduate and undergraduate housing.

Career Development Center

The Career Development Center (CDC) continues to offer a broad variety of programs. The interview area was renovated this past summer with the support of its corporate partners. The renovation provides privacy and a professional environment to host the ever-increasing number of companies seeking interview time on campus.

To facilitate the access to CDC services, Interview Trak, a state-of-the-art, online registration and scheduling system, was implemented. The CDC Café, a new approach to providing career resources and employer interaction with students, opened in the fall of 1999. Companies "take over" the café during the term and offer information, conversation, and advice over coffee.

During the Institute planning process, the CDC identified the need to expand job opportunities for students through coordinated job development activity as a priority. Through creative programming they will support students' career development while building a strong community among students, alumni, employers, staff, and faculty.

Student Records and Financial Services

The implementation of the Student Information System was completed in June of 1999. This state-of-the-industry system provides students with "anytime-anywhere" access to information about their account, transcript, and financial aid. They can register, add or drop courses, and update their addresses. Faculty have online access to their class lists, access to their advisees' records, and can submit their grades online.

A primary objective of the project was to reengineer and simplify processes. As a result, many student-support offices have updated and revised their procedures to provide services that facilitate administrative processes and ultimately improve the services provided to students.

A degree audit (an online update showing a student not just his or her transcript, but progress toward degree requirements) has recently been made available to the campus. Final implementation is planned for incoming freshmen in 2001. This class will have an online tool to measure their progress toward degree requirements from their very first registration.

In July 1997, the department moved to new office space that facilitates interactions with students. For example, the new office has a small bank of public-access computers that allows students easy access to the Student Information System.

A cross-trained customer service team continues to respond to financial aid, student-account, and registration-related questions and issues. However, a change in organizational structure has shifted four Bursar professional staff members out of the Student Records and Financial Services Department; they now report directly to the Controller while maintaining a dotted line relationship to Student Life.

Providing seamless service to students and their families with increased accessibility to customer service professionals is a priority for the Office of Student Records and Financial Services.

Dean of Students

The Dean of Students Office (DOSO), including International Student Services, Disabled Student Services, and the Office of Minority Student Affairs, moved to newly renovated office space in August 1997. The new facility supports DOSO programs with space for private counseling and meeting space for students.

Greek Life

Greek Forum 2000 was held in March 2000 with participants from Rensselaer fraternities and sororities, alumni, the Rensselaer administration, and outside experts. The forum began the process of updating the Relationship Statement that is 10 years old this year. The discussion focused on critical issues and opportunities to improve the system to ensure a vital Greek system at Rensselaer in the future. The revision process is ongoing. A new Statement is expected to be approved and in place for fall 2001.

Office of Minority Student Affairs

Under the coordination of the Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA), the Rensselaer Riverfront Partnership has received a $1.75 million grant as part of the U.S. Department of Education's Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). Together with partners at Hudson Valley Community College, Russell Sage College, NYS Higher Education Services Corp., American Express Financial Services, and six local school systems, the office will work with a cohort of 925 students to improve academic preparation, promote access and enrollment in post-secondary education, and sustain support services for students and families during their college years.

OMSA has identified the need to expand and strengthen pipeline programs for underrepresented groups at both the graduate and undergraduate levels as a priority. The group will build on the strong foundation of existing precollege initiatives (STEP, RAISE, and PREFACE) to increase student participation.

Self-Assessment and Planning

Student development, student services, and facilities (athletic, student union, and residence life) represent the student life constructs that capture the essence and interrelatedness of the goals and plans of the Student Life Division. Student success in the classroom is inextricably connected to the quality of personal development within the Rensselaer community, the quality of services that facilitate the day-to-day challenges of navigating through the Institute, and the quality of facilities where students study, recreate, socialize, and live.

Strategic Goals

The goals for Student Life established during the campuswide planning process encompass the first-year experience, athletics, career development, health and wellness, leadership, diversity, community, and extracurricular and social activities.

Communication with students through the Internet or by e-mail is increasing. Interactive Web sites and easy access to services and information are the expectations of the student body. Enhancing and expanding the division's Web presence is a priority. A virtual career day, online exit interviews, and customized Web sites are all planned.


In 1996, the Middle States evaluation team commended the effectiveness of Rensselaer's libraries and learning resources groups (known collectively as Computing and Information Services, or CIS) in "enhancing the learning, teaching and work experiences of students, faculty and administrators," specifically citing the quality of CIS staff, their broad range of skills, and their success using collaboration and partnerships.

Now, the overall organization and roles of Computing and Information Services have evolved to a higher level. These changes have been manifested by a change in name -- from Computing and Information Services to Division of the Chief Information Officer (DotCIO) -- and a change in organizational position. The chief information officer is now a member of the President's Cabinet, replacing the former position of dean of Computing and Information Services in the Provost's Office. John Kolb, formerly dean of Computing and Information Services, was named CIO in September 2000.

The CIO has been charged with responsibility for Institutewide information services and policy formulation in a manner that empowers the position in ways not possible in the previously more-distributed approach to policy and systems development across the Institute.

The vision of the organization is to provide a world-class, leading-edge, integrated information environment for the Rensselaer community. Information is the lifeblood of the research university. Providing information access, resources, and services is the role of DotCIO. Its mission is to provide enabling information services and technology to the diverse Rensselaer community. The Division collaborates with campus constituents to find solutions for changing educational, research, communications, and business needs.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

Major accomplishments have been achieved throughout the division during the past five years.


The challenge of meeting the cost of scholarly journals has been temporarily addressed by transferring a significant amount of funding from print versions to online journals and on-demand purchasing of articles. Since 1996, the number of journals held in print has decreased by 50 percent, but overall journal holdings have increased by a factor of seven -- even more when other full-text resources combined with bibliographic packages are considered.

The focus has shifted to access tools and Web-accessible resources coupled with improved services, such as proxy services for remote access. Desktop delivery is preferred and supported over less-immediate transmissions such as fax, photocopy, or interlibrary loans. Licensing of e-books has made available a broad range of current, high-demand titles, especially in IT and computer science. Rensselaer was among the first in the nation to deliver electronic course reserves in PDF format.

Rensselaer Libraries have provided leadership in local, statewide, and national consortia to collaborate on information access and to change traditional models of scholarly communication. All private academic libraries on the New York State NOVEL (New York Online Virtual Electronic Library) project are represented.

In 1995, plans were made to migrate the in-house library system (Infotrax, running on the MTS operating system) to a "turnkey" vendor solution. The Innovative Interfaces Inc. system was competitively selected and implemented.

Since then, technical processing and public catalogs have been fully automated, and a Web OPAC (online public access catalog) interface has replaced the old command-driven interface of Infotrax. A graphic interface to the staff modules is imminent in preparation for implementing Innovative's new Millennium upgrade.

Interlibrary loan services were recently automated with another commercial product, Illiad, which directly links our users and system with the interlibrary loan services of OCLC and other document delivery vendors. The resulting improvements have included increased efficiency, greater user satisfaction, and better statistics for management purposes.

Library instruction is state-of-the-art, with a comprehensive library Web site with interactive modules. Customized Web portals (e.g., "My Library") are under development in addition to live reference chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition, preservation projects and ambitious goals for digital archives are under way.

Academic Computing

Rensselaer has long been a leader in integrating technology into the curriculum. In 1997 the Learning Management Systems Task Force was established to select a learning management system for the campus. The Task Force selected WebCT, a system that has been enthusiastically adopted by the faculty and is currently used for providing Web-based curriculum in more than 200 courses.

In the fall of 1999, Rensselaer introduced a laptop computer requirement for all entering freshmen. The Mobile Computing @ Rensselaer program provided a high-end IBM ThinkPad preloaded with the software used in all large-enrollment first-year courses for purchase or lease to all entering students. The program included training and ongoing support for the students and assisted faculty in obtaining the same computer for use in their teaching and research. A workshop for faculty encouraged the continuing integration of the laptops into the curriculum, and significant classroom renovations made it possible for students to connect their laptops to the campus network in 37 classrooms as well as residence hall rooms and study areas around campus. The program is currently in its second year and is subject to ongoing evaluation, which has been very positive to date. Five additional classrooms are scheduled to be upgraded in the summer of 2001.

As the Internet plays a growing role in education, it is increasingly important for universities to have clear and accepted policies for its appropriate use. In 1997 Rensselaer established the Commission on Electronic Citizenship to review and revise the existing computer-use policy, extending it to include the campus network and the World Wide Web. The Commission included faculty, students, and staff, and worked with numerous campus constituencies to achieve consensus. The policy was approved by the president and Board of Trustees as official policy in 1998.

Administrative Computing

Defining and establishing specifications for a new student implementation system started in 1994, with funding approved in spring 1996. The Student Information System Implementation Project was completed in 1999. The Banner system was purchased from Systems and Comptutor Technology (SCT) in Malvern, Pennsylvania. The completed implementation created an integrated environment covering recruiting, admissions, student records and registration, student A/R, financial aid, housing, and curriculum and program planning. Web components were also implemented for financial aid, student records, and faculty access.

Via Banner, campus offices have been able to improve service to students as well as facilitate smoother interaction among the administrative offices involved in student-related activities.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to the students is their ability to transact routine business online. Students can now register for and/or add and drop classes via the Web in a matter of minutes from most anywhere in the world via browser technology. Additionally, the system allows students to view their grades and bill statements and to update their addresses. The most recently completed component, curriculum and program planning, allows students to view progress toward a degree via the Web. Additionally, faculty can submit grades online and gain access to information about student advisees.

Strategic Goals

The DotCIO organization has articulated its priorities in The Rensselaer Plan; these are briefly identified here.

  1. Strategic Planning for Information Infrastructure - Strategic planning for information technology will enable Rensselaer to make efficient use of resources and capture opportunities based on the largest impact on the Institute as a whole. It will also enable the Institute to implement responsible data stewardship, intelligent life-cycle planning, integrated systems, standardized technologies, and better training for employees.
  2. Network and Infrastructure - A robust information infrastructure will be maintained by upgrading the network backbone, building out the network infrastructure in research buildings, improving off-campus access, and routinely upgrading the large server base that facilitates critical campus functions, such as e-mail and Internet access.
  3. Integrated Administrative Data and Architecture - The overall efficiency of the Institute is tied to our ability to effectively manage information flow. This will include implementing a successful data-warehousing project with complementary work flow projects and continuing to improve the reliability and services from the core administrative application, SCT Banner.
  4. Research Library Model - Increasing the research program at Rensselaer will require a renewed emphasis on developing the research library. This will include convenient access to information resources, new standards for defining the research library, teaching information literacy, and providing state-of-the-art information management systems.
  5. Academic and Research Computing Support - To provide the community with computing resources and services for world-class education and research will require expansion of the mobile computing program, developing a higher quality research computing support organization, and continuing to improve and extend support for faculty use of technology in teaching.
  6. Communication and Collaboration Tools - A new organization for Web services integrating a number of communication support activities will be developed.

Outcomes assessment in these areas will be tracked by benchmarking, internal achievements and indicators, and resource utilization.

To accomplish these goals, it will be necessary to invest in information professionals, information resources, and information technology. Currently, there is an organizational review in process to make adjustments that better support the Institutewide goals and commitment themes, first-year priorities, and DotCIO emerging priorities. The Division of the CIO will need to increase the number of professionals in the group significantly (by approximately 30 percent) over the next three years and invest in the training of all employees. Capital expenditures and investments will be required in each of the emerging priorities as well as for continual support and maintenance of new and enhanced services. Several activities will be "sunset," including redundancy in administrative systems, migrating to a mobile computing base, and replacing print materials in the library with online or electronic versions.

Response to Issues Identified in the Last Review

Issues that were identified by the 1996 Middle States Evaluating Team as possibly needing attention included supporting staffing levels, securing stable funding for library collections and academic computing hardware, and renovations to the libraries.

As indicated throughout this section of the Periodic Review Report, the intervening years have seen significant improvements in these areas, as well as numerous opportunities for future enhancements resulting from both specific and immediate remedies and implementation of the strategic planning process of The Rensselaer Plan.


Institute Advancement provides messages, marketing, volunteers, private philanthropy, and other revenues to increase Rensselaer's reputation, expand its resource base, and achieve its goals.

Advancement creates mutually beneficial relationships with alumni and friends, prospective and current students, faculty and staff, corporations and foundations, key opinion leaders, the news media, and the public at large. Advancement accomplishes its mission through programs in marketing and media relations, alumni relations, corporate and international advancement, development, and advancement services.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

During the past five years, Rensselaer has been evolving an advancement model based on the premise that information leads to involvement, and that involvement, in turn, leads to investment. The Inform/Involve/Invest model positions these three aspects of institutional advancement as equally important and as potentiating each other.

Within this framework, specific foci during the past five years have been:

  • Building a robust, savvy, and research-based institutional marketing program that manages brand and identity, provides a consistent face (messages and visual identity), and strengthens top-of-mind awareness of Rensselaer as a top-tier world class technological research university. This includes print publications, Web communications, presidential communications and speeches, and a national advertising program centered on print ads that feature faculty research in national media.
  • Directing an aggressive media relations program that secures national placements in prestige media and, within the region, emphasizes the Institute's roles in economic development and "communiversity."
  • Focusing alumni relations on programs that meet alumni interests and engender relationships with the Institute. This includes addressing students as future alumni, creating affinity groups and networks among alumni, "moving" alumni volunteers to higher levels of service and commitment, and providing value-added services to all alumni.
  • Adding an international advancement program that focuses, in the first instance, on countries where alumni and corporate relationships already exist.
  • Rebuilding the development office to achieve higher, and more appropriate, levels of annual support. This has included adding to the individual and annual giving staffs, expanding prospect research, and creating development communications and special events units.
  • Using the celebration of Rensselaer's 175th anniversary as an opportunity to call attention to the Institute's history and accomplishments. This included a program of national and campus events, publication of a history of the Institute, and inauguration of an Alumni Hall of Fame (which will induct its third class in September 2001).
  • Reframing regional programming, first integrating it with annual giving (in 1996) and now reuniting it with Alumni Relations as part of the overall focus on customer relationship management in the alumni office.
  • Replacing the Institute's antiquated mainframe-based advancement information system with a state-of-the-art product that collects, shares, and allows analysis of essential information.
  • Reengineering advancement processes (informing, engaging, cultivating, asking, thanking) with a focus on providing customer service and moving individuals, corporations, and foundations to their maximum potential for Rensselaer.
  • Preparing for a comprehensive capital campaign in support of the Institute's priorities as outlined in The Rensselaer Plan.

These initiatives have been undergirded by substantial Institute investments in marketing and campaign preparation. Division staffing has increased from 70 (down from 92 permanent and 12 temporary employees in the previous fund-raising campaign) to 110 last year.

Division leadership has changed twice in the past five years, with the director of development succeeding to the vice presidency in 1996. David Haviland, the current vice president, a Rensselaer alumnus, faculty member, and administrator who had served previously as dean of Architecture and vice president for student life, was appointed in February 2000.

Marketing and Media Relations

The identity and brand management programs described in detail in the 1996 Self-Study Report have been continued and expanded. Enrollment management publications have been redesigned twice based on careful attention to what works best and on the Institute's own evolution. Print publications have earned numerous awards, have been complemented by engaging Web communications, and most recently have been expanded to include graduate as well as undergraduate recruiting.

The national advertising program, initiated in 1998 and involving three rounds of market research, a trial flight in 1999, and ongoing advertising since March 2000, is focusing on elevating top-of-mind awareness of Rensselaer among critical segments (alumni, high-income households, and researchers) by featuring faculty research (keys to prestige within these segments) in national print media (specifically 1.7 million readers every other week in The Wall Street Journal and the national edition of The Washington Post). A solid base of quantitative research is in place to allow us to periodically assess results and adjust direction.

The media relations program described in the 1996 Self-Study has also continued apace. In 1999-2000, the Institute placed 429 stories in national outlets with circulation over 100,000, including 25 feature stories in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Program features were placed in both special U.S.News & World Report editions (undergraduate and graduate), and a student entrepreneurial project was featured on the Today Show. In addition, the media relations program placed 680 stories in national outlets with less than 100,000 circulation and 699 in local regional outlets. This is a 65 percent increase in media placements since 1995.

Since President Jackson's arrival, the Division has been building a presidential communications program, which involves speech preparation, support for personal appearances, interaction with regional and national editorial boards, and positioning as a spokesperson on important national issues such as the promise of science (especially biotechnology and information technology) to improve humankind, the liberal education of scientists and engineers, and access to science and engineering by women and minorities.

Alumni Relations

Alumni relations has fully transitioned from its principally social orientation to one that carries a full range of customer relationship management responsibilities designed to serve alumni, promote productive involvement with each other and the Institute, provide a flow of volunteers to Institute programs, and increase alumni investment.

In the last three years, the Alumni Relations office has:

  • Introduced affinity groups and networks (e.g., MBA graduates, technology law and commercialization, entrepreneurs), developed affinity reunions (e.g., IT professionals, M.D. graduates), and is planning new IT and biotechnology groups.
  • Developed a volunteer relations program designed to identify, involve, and "move" alumni to participation in classes, student projects, leadership and entrepreneurship education, advisory boards, and other meaningful roles. Last year, 2,045 alumni were involved as volunteers.
  • Added student programs targeted to legacies and graduating students, with increasing focus on students as future alumni and on young alumni.
  • Redesigned the AlumServ Web site to provide value-added services, including an online networking database with 2,600 alumni registered in the first ten months of operation. Services include advanced search, job-posting, alumni-to-alumni and alumni-to-student mentoring, and yellow pages that allow users to promote their business to other alumni through a listing that is searchable in many ways. Other services include a free e-mail for life service hosting more than 4,000 alumni, a monthly e-mail newsletter to alumni, and a range of commercial services for alumni, including travel, credit card, and discounted life, home, and auto insurance.

During this time, the Rensselaer Alumni Association has become an effective force in representing alumni in Institute matters (including involvement in developing The Rensselaer Plan) and in investing in major Institute fund-raising initiatives (e.g., renovation of Walker Laboratory, restoration of the Approach, renovation of the student union building, and supporting the RPIdeaLab for student entrepreneurs).

Fund Raising

Total annual support ranged between $21 and $24 million in the 1991-1995 years, years that included the culmination (1993) and end of the pledge payout period (1996) for the last fund-raising campaign. In 1996 and 1997, total support dropped to $23 million, a result of dismantling staff and programs after the campaign as well as uncertainties attending to vision, plan, and message.

Since 1998, total support has increased steadily to $32, $37, and $43 million, respectively. During this time, the Institute's investments in fund raising, as a percentage of dollars raised, have tracked schools in our market basket raising less than $100 million a year and have been well below national averages for all institutions.

The Institute is building on its success in corporate support (fourth only to MIT, Stanford, and Princeton in our market basket) by increasing research and education revenues from corporate sources as well as philanthropy. Additional fund-raising foci include support from individuals and foundations, as well as support to endowment, all of which are low in our market basket.

From a cold start three years ago, the international advancement program has produced formal agreements for education programs with universities and corporate partners in China, Malaysia, and Venezuela; negotiated agreements for chair and fellowship support in Japan; added alumni chapters in Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Venezuela; and heightened the Institute's visibility in each of these countries.

Rensselaer is in the quiet phase of a comprehensive capital campaign and expects to take the campaign public as early as fall 2002. Current activity is focused on defining the top of our "pyramid" of donors, and a goal has not been set. However, it is clear that a bold plan, visionary leadership, and high performance execution will dramatically increase investment in Rensselaer, even in less certain financial times. The recent (March 2001) announcement of a $360 million gift from an anonymous donor, then the single largest gift to a U.S. university, is a first step in our plans to bring total support to new, and dramatically higher, levels.


The appointment of Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson was a landmark for Rensselaer advancement. The president has created a vision, a plan, and a commitment to success that have energized every aspect of advancement. The message of transformation, and that of exponential -- and even discontinuous -- change, has challenged our constituents, raised their sights, and stirred their nascent pride in the Institute.

The latter point is an important one. Too often our alumni have felt underserved by the Institute. Many have seen sagging rankings and failure to become a truly national player, while other institutions have moved up in public regard, as reinforcing their own less-than-positive experience as students. Even as Rensselaer continues to improve the quality of the experience for its current students, alumni loyalty will be driven by pride in their alma mater as a place that makes a difference, as a winner, and (following the newspaper test) a household word. As an enormous vote of confidence in Rensselaer and its future, we expect the $360 million gift to be instrumental in leveraging alumni pride.


As Rensselaer moves into the 21st century, the Institute is poised to become a "top-tier world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact." To achieve that vision, Rensselaer faculty and staff must act together. The Division of Human Resources will provide the strategic focus and develop Institutewide initiatives to assist each division in achieving its commitments to The Rensselaer Plan.

The vision of Human Resources is for Rensselaer to become the area's "employer of choice." Its mission is to create a collaborative partnership with each division that will enable people to achieve excellence and enjoy satisfaction in their work environment.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

Over the past five years, Rensselaer has taken steps to reaffirm its commitment to welcoming all people and all cultures to its community and to recruiting and retaining an excellent work force. This commitment has been expressed through the university's affirmative action efforts and the development and reorganization of resources.

In 1998, Institute Diversity was moved from what was then the Office of Human Resources and Institute Diversity (within the Administration Division) into the Office of the Provost. The director of Institute Diversity was named assistant provost for Institute Diversity and was charged with developing and implementing strategic plans aimed at creating a more diverse community at Rensselaer. {See See INSTITUTE DIVERSITY. for more details.}

In 1999, Human Resources was made a separate division, and on July 1, 2000, following a national search, Curtis Powell, former corporate director for human resources at Suburban Hospital Healthcare System in Bethesda, Maryland, became the new division's first permanent vice president.

A six-point Performance Management Project, launched in the fall of 2000, is nearing completion. This initiative includes the following:

  • Updating all job descriptions
  • Adjusting selected wages to address internal inequities
  • Conducting an Institutewide compensation study (with an external consultant) and developing a new compensation system
  • Developing a grievance-resolution procedure
  • Developing a Performance Management Tool that combines job description and performance evaluation in a single document [Appendix 6]
  • Establishing a communication committee

A new recruitment program is focused on ensuring fair practice in employment, overseeing affirmative action policies, and implementing broader recruitment practices. Expanding Rensselaer's recruitment efforts into regional and national markets will make use of executive recruiters and national advertising firms to assist with high-profile recruiting efforts. A recruitment plan for Biotechnology and IT constellation faculty has been put into action, beginning with placement of a full-page advertisement in the March issue of Nature magazine. [Appendix 7]

In January 2001, the division released its "Structured Interview Guidelines" to be used uniformly throughout Rensselaer. With tips and instructions to help Institute personnel with interviewing procedures, the guidelines are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations regarding hiring practices.

Efforts to increase the representation of women and minorities among faculty and staff continue to show mostly positive results. The number of female faculty increased from 46 (12.3% of the total) in 1995-96 to 54 (14.8% of total) in 1999-2000. The number of minority faculty (including Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native) grew from 46 (12.3%) in 1995-96 to 62 (16.9%) in 1999-2000. During the same time period, the number of female nonfaculty employees grew from 577 (54.3%) to 634 (55.4%); nonfaculty minority representation increased from 91 to 94 individuals, but failed to keep pace with the total rate of growth (from 1,062 in 1995-96 to 1,145 in 1999-2000) and thus showed a decline from 8.6 percent to 8.2 percent of the total.

Rensselaer service and maintenance employees voted overwhelmingly (117 to 44) against representation by the Service Employees International Union AFL-CIO in August 2000.

Strategic Goals

The Division of Human Relations will continue to work toward accomplishing the goals of The Rensselaer Plan, focusing in part on the following:

  • Hiring faculty for constellations in biotechnology and information technology
  • Developing a new employee orientation program for faculty and staff
  • Developing sound practices in the recruitment, selection, and promotion of staff, and assisting in the review of hiring, tenure, and promotion standards for faculty
  • Reviewing the division's use of technology, particularly the use of Banner and Web capabilities, to improve service and business strategies
  • Implementing the six-point Performance Management Project described above
  • Reviewing cost of health and welfare programs and implementing a cost-effective benefits program

As a private institution providing quality education in the extremely popular areas of technology and engineering, Rensselaer has experienced positive trends in undergraduate enrollment and yield, while maintaining the quality of its student body. These positive enrollment trends and a disciplined budgeting process have resulted in the Institute balancing its operating budget in fiscal year 2000 after three consecutive years of planned operating deficits.

During the later part of the 1990s, Rensselaer benefited from both disciplined investment decisions and favorable markets. The endowment has grown from in excess of $300 million at June 30, 1996, to in excess of $700 million at June 30, 2000. The market value for endowment and funds functioning as endowment for fiscal years 1996 through 2000 is shown in See Endowment Balances. (in millions of dollars).

Endowment Balances


Market Value

Spending Allocation
















These above-average investment returns have been achieved over the past five years while the amount of such returns spent for operating costs has steadily declined over the past decade to a very prudent amount (5.0 percent of a four-year rolling average) in the past three years. Spending levels in the near future will continue at the 5.0 percent rolling average level utilized in the most recent fiscal years.

Rensselaer's investment in physical plant has increased over the past several years. This has included the recent construction of Barton Hall, a new 196-bed residence hall that was completed in time for August 2000 occupation by incoming freshmen. This project, which recently received a Beautification Achievement Award from the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce, added needed bed capacity and is expected to serve as the prototype for future dormitory renewal projects.

In addition, in the past year, the Rensselaer Student Union has undergone extensive interior renovation, including refreshing, relighting, and reconfiguration of most interior spaces. The project included replacing and/or upgrading of all building mechanical, electrical, and fire safety systems. Improvements were made for accessibility and code compliance purposes (including compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act), as well as to the Union's telecommunication capabilities, which were made compatible with Rensselaer's educational mission.

Construction of a new multipurpose fitness facility adjoining the Alumni Sports and Recreation Center was also completed in the past year. The new facility houses a state-of-the-art recreation complex, including a cardiovascular fitness center, three to four multipurpose activity rooms for use by Union club activities (including aerobics, martial arts, bridge, and chess), plus locker rooms and appropriate storage and support spaces.

Finally, Rensselaer is continuing to address deferred maintenance projects for its physical plant, including replacement of HVAC equipment, upgrading of plumbing and electrical systems, and general upkeep and maintenance of campus buildings and infrastructure.

See Assets. shows the assets included in Physical Plant as of each of the previous four fiscal years ended June 30 ($000's).


Fiscal Year




Construction in Progress

Accumulated Depreciation






























Rensselaer's debt outstanding at June 30, 2000, totaled $116 million and decreased approximately $7 million from the previous year. The majority of the Institute's debt has been issued on a tax-exempt basis through such government agencies as the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and the Industrial Development Authority. During the past few years, issues have been used to finance student renovation projects, construct buildings in the Rensselaer Technology Park, and refinance existing debt at more attractive terms.

Approximately 77 percent of Rensselaer's debt is for academic or student auxiliary projects, 9 percent for student loan programs, and 14 percent is for the Technology Park. Rensselaer has prudently managed its financing for major projects and programs through the combined use of internal resources, gifts, and external financing.


Rensselaer currently occupies buildings with a total of 3.4 million square feet of space on the 264-acre campus in Troy, New York. On the main campus in Troy there is a total of 162 buildings, including 43 academic buildings, 75 buildings dedicated to housing activities, and 44 service buildings. A building located in Watervliet on two acres of land includes 57,000 square feet and houses Incubator companies.

In the last five years, several new facilities (listed in See New Facilities.) have been added to the Troy campus. In addition, 50-year-old wood-framed residence facilities that had outlived their usefulness have been demolished and the land has been utilized to create additional athletic playing fields.

New Facilities




New York State Polymer Center


17,000 S.F.

Mueller Center

Campus Fitness Center

33,000 S.F

Barton Hall

Residence Hall

61,000 S.F.

Substantial efforts have been directed to renovate older facilities in the last five years, as follows:





Pittsburgh Building

Classrooms and Offices

43,000 S.F.

Troy Building

Classrooms and Offices

39,000 S.F.

Rensselaer Union

Student Union

121,000 S.F.

Materials Research Center


105,000 S.F.

In addition to these major building renovations, there has been a significant number of smaller renovations to support the development of interactive learning studio classrooms as well as the major initiative to provide sufficient electronic classrooms to support the laptop program initiative. A minimum of ten classrooms has been renovated in each of the past two years to provide state-of-the-art electronic classroom facilities. Over the past two years, all of the residence halls have received a network upgrade that now provides a minimum of a 10 MHz connection to each bed.

The residence system has recently seen an additional 196-bed facility, Barton Hall, added. This facility was constructed as the first step in a Residence Renewal Plan. The plan was to have provided an opportunity to empty an existing residence hall each year so that it could receive substantial renovation. The increase in undergraduate enrollment has temporarily postponed that possibility. Current planning is to locate additional space into which we can relocate undergraduate students for one year so that undergraduate residence halls can continue to be renovated.

The Pittsburgh Building was renovated to provide a new home for the Lally School of Management and Technology. This involved a complete renovation of the building's interior, modern HVAC and electrical systems, and an addition to provide additional program space as well as an elevator and additional exit stairs. The building now contains two interactive undergraduate classrooms, one graduate-level classroom, and an executive MBA classroom.

The Troy Building was renovated to bring the student service functions into one building. In addition, several administrative functions were also located in this building. One floor of the building contains three interactive studio classrooms. This was a complete renovation that included completely new building systems.

The Rensselaer Union was completely renovated to provide additional space for the student organizations, clubs, food services, and study spaces. The building systems were completely upgraded. The interior of the building is completely wired with computer network outlets, and a wireless network was also installed to allow students to work untethered in most of the building.

The Materials Research Center received a completion renovation of its HVAC system. This work provided a central system for heating and air conditioning the entire building. The fume hood exhaust system was also replaced in order to expand capacity and provide a safer research environment.

New Projects

The Rensselaer Plan has identified a number of focal areas that will drive the design and construction of numerous new facilities over the next five years. The highest priorities are already in the design phase. Others are in planning and will be staged over the next several years to support the Plan's remaining goals.

Projects in Design




Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Center


200,000 S.F.

Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center


140,000 S.F.

Structured Parking Facility


500 vehicles

New Electric Substation

Electric Service


New Central Steam Plant

Campus Heating


Projects In Planning

Rensselaer currently has several categories of projects in the planning stage.

The athletics master plan has identified the need for several new facilities. The first priority -- a campus fitness center, The Mueller Center -- was completed in March 2000. The next priority will be the construction of an athletic training and office facility, followed by a Field House to be located next to it. These projects are to be located adjacent to the artificial field and track facility on the east side of the campus.

The academic campus is also being reviewed. There is a need to locate a home for the Information Technology program and collocate it adjacent to the existing Computer Science Department. This will assist in the development of an "information technology corridor" in the center of the academic campus.

Another major activity is the establishment in July 2001 of a Space Management and Utilization Program. This program is developing a set of space utilization and management policies that will assist Rensselaer in the effective management of all its physical space as the campus undergoes a dramatic growth period. This program will define the highest and best use of our largest assets. It will also become a sophisticated planning tool as we move forward with the goal to more than double research in five years.


The Institute currently has equipment valued at over $152 million. A sample of the major items of equipment that support the Institute's teaching and research activities includes the following:

Major Equipment Values

Major Systems

Approximate Value

Novellus M27 Plasma Vapor Deposition


9076 36-Way SP@ System


Prec. 5000 & Etchback System


Electronics Robotic Assembly


Focused ION Beam


RS 6000 SP


Reactive ION Etcher


BCN Router with 116 T Base Port


WP Wirebonder & IBM 7576 Robot


Eatonnova ICB-100 System


GCA 65 UM Auto Step Stepper


GCA 65 UM Auto Step Stepper


Thermo Technology Furnace Model


IBM Risc System RQ4


Spectrometer System 1000 (Micro)


Raman Spectroscopy System


800 KW Generator set with Trail


Transmission Electron Microscope


Hurricane Laser Amplifier System


Substantial computer resources are available in the Voorhees Computing Center, the research centers, and other technical computing facilities around the campus.



The mission of the Office of the Provost is to lead the academic portfolios in implementing the vision outlined in The Rensselaer Plan, as it relates to those portfolios. In the process, the Office of the Provost must ensure and continually improve the quality of the faculty and academic programs at Rensselaer, and promote the core values of excellence, leadership, change, diversity, integration, and collaboration within the faculty and academic staff.

On July 1, 2001, Dr. George "Bud" Peterson became the provost, replacing Interim Provost Doyle Daves who retired on June 30. During his interim year, Dr. Daves began to reestablish the Provost's Office, adding Dr. Gary A. Gabriele as vice provost for administration and dean of undergraduate education. Also during this period, all admission activities, undergraduate and graduate, were combined under a new organization, Enrollment Management, and placed within the Provost's Office. Teresa Duffy, formerly head of undergraduate admissions, was appointed as the dean of Enrollment Management.

In addition to the five academic schools, the provost oversees the Undergraduate College, the Graduate School, the Office of Institute Diversity, Professional and Distance Education, and Rensselaer at Hartford.

During the past two years, the Office of the Provost has been integral in the development of The Rensselaer Plan and the performance planning process. Each of the academic portfolios has developed strategic goals, action plans, and budgets based on a three-year horizon. The development and collaboration among the academic portfolios has been managed by the provost. A summary of these plans is presented in the following sections.


The mission of the Undergraduate College is to oversee and advance Rensselaer's undergraduate program of educating tomorrow's leaders for technologically based careers. The vision is to create an environment for learning and teaching that will attract not only the top students to the undergraduate programs, but also the top faculty who are interested in doing teaching and research in an environment that encourages and rewards innovation. The teaching environment will be a model for the modern technological university, employing a combination of pedagogy and technology that increases the effectiveness and efficiency of both faculty and students. It will be an environment that fosters and rewards interaction between student and teacher. It will have a curriculum that prepares students to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Rensselaer is ranked among the top 50 national universities, and the reputation and strength of its undergraduate programs is renowned. The undergraduate programs are distinguished by an outstanding undergraduate student body, a faculty that is student-centered and research-focused, a portfolio of degree offerings that is distinctive and timely, and a teaching environment founded in a tradition of interaction between students and faculty.

The strategic goal of the Undergraduate College is to enhance national leadership in innovative learning and teaching by providing outstanding and distinctive educational programs for resident undergraduates. Educational programs will incorporate interactive pedagogies and provide an engaging student experience. The teaching environment will support and encourage innovation in the teaching of students, and interaction between students and faculty.

A major challenge for Rensselaer as it moves toward its goal of becoming a world-class research university with global reach and global impact is to achieve this growth without retreating from the advances the Institute has made in the last 10 years in undergraduate education. The primary mission of the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education is to maintain the high academic standards and reputation for teaching innovations, while supporting the Institute's mission for increased recognition as a major research university. Dr. Gary A. Gabriele has served as vice provost for administration and dean of undergraduate education since October 1, 2000.

The Undergraduate College includes the Lois J. and Harlan E. Anderson Center for Innovation in Undergraduate Education, the Advising and Learning Assistance Center, the ROTC units, and the Instructional Development Program. The dean of undergraduate education serves as an ex-officio member of the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee. The Undergraduate College also coordinates the Undergraduate Research Program and a study abroad program.

Since its inception in 1990, the Anderson Center for Innovation in Undergraduate Education has served as an incubator for curriculum reform and a driving force for change and innovation in higher education. The Center's mission has been to develop and support new teaching methods and technologies with the aim of improving education, both on and off campus. The Center is dedicated to maintaining and extending Rensselaer's leadership position among the premiere learning environments in higher education.

The mission of the Advising and Learning Assistance Center (ALAC) is to provide a unified approach to supporting students and faculty in the learning and advising processes. It is a place where students can get "one stop" academic support in the form of services and programs designed to help the students achieve their goals by becoming more effective and efficient learners. Among the many services offered by the ALAC are strong programs that help retention, including a 15-year-old Learning Assistants Program in predominantly freshman dorms, a Faculty Intervention Program, a Supplemental Instruction Program (SI) for first-year courses, a D and F Grade Monitoring Program for first-year students, and tutoring services.

Currently, on-campus ROTC units exist for the Navy and the Air Force. An Army ROTC program is also offered through a regional command located at nearby Siena College.

The Instructional Development Program (IDP) exists to provide a forum for the discussion and improvement of teaching and learning. The IDP program has been recently resurrected and an advisory body of faculty has been formed. A faculty forum on the use of laptop computers in the classroom was organized in the fall semester, and a teaching and learning colloquium was held May 7-8, 2001.

Rensselaer's Undergraduate Research Program (URP) has been in place since 1987, providing opportunities for undergraduates to work with faculty and graduate students on current research programs. Students can participate in research programs either for pay or for credit, and can often extend the experiences into a whole summer. During the last academic year, more than 250 undergraduates participated in undergraduate research projects spanning all five schools and Information Technology. Additionally, more than 50 students submitted proposals for summer undergraduate research fellowships which provide $3,000 of support for 23 summer research students.

Rensselaer students have a broad spectrum of opportunities for study abroad. Most programs are run by particular schools or departments. An example is the Global Engineering Education Exchange program that partners Rensselaer with universities in more than 16 countries. The School of Architecture runs an annual exchange program in Italy that sends both faculty and students abroad for a semester. The Undergraduate College oversees exchange programs with five universities, four in England and one in Germany.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review
Curriculum Reform

At the time of our last Middle States review, the Institute was in the midst of a sweeping, comprehensive, and far-reaching effort to redesign its curricula. The main goals of the effort included

  • decreasing the rigidity of undergraduate degree requirements,
  • increasing choice and flexibility in course selection,
  • providing improved multidisciplinary options, and
  • devising a system that enables students to concentrate, nominally, on four courses per semester, thereby providing a better opportunity for reflection and mastery.

The complete conversion to the new curriculum structure was quicker for some disciplines than others. Both Engineering and Architecture, due to the professional nature of their degrees, spent considerable time examining their existing curriculum and redesigning to meet the new requirements. In Architecture's case, they had a five-year program that wasn't limited by the maximum credit limit, but they still had to repackage their courses to meet the new structure. Several innovative solutions arose from this work.

All the major goals of this reform have been achieved. All curricula now require a minimum of 12 free electives, which is nearly double that previously required by some very restrictive programs in engineering. This has increased the number of dual majors (one degree with two titles) and minors that students are now able to complete. For example, in 1995, only 10 students graduated with dual majors; today almost 500 students are pursuing dual majors. This has also allowed for more multidisciplinary degree options to be developed. Two recent examples are the new B.S. program in Information Technology (described briefly below), and the dual degree program in Product Design and Innovation (PDI). The PDI program, a dual degree program offered jointly by the Schools of Engineering, Architecture, and Humanities and Social Sciences defines an innovative new program for engineering or architecture students.

The last goal of the curriculum reform was to provide a system that would allow students to concentrate on four courses per semester. A study of last semester shows that the majority of students are registered for 17 credits or less, and more than 80 percent are registered for no more than 18 credits.

B.S. in Information Technology

In early 1997, Rensselaer saw Information Technology emerging as an important area for the university because it was not addressed directly by current programs and it built on Rensselaer's strengths in technology and multidisciplinary activities.

At the end of 1997, the curriculum design group delivered a report recommending the creation of a bachelor's degree in IT. This group recognized the tremendous demand from the marketplace for IT professionals who had a broad appreciation for the application of information technology to world problems. They also saw the interdisciplinary information technology expertise that Rensselaer already had in place in the faculty.

The Rensselaer IT professional was defined with many attributes. However, there were three overarching goals for the graduates of the new curriculum: (1) that they possess an extensive IT literacy and be well educated in a second discipline, (2) that they be technically adept with a social-awareness mind-set, and, (3) that they be skillful in continually updating their skills and knowledge base. {A more complete description of the IT program is provided in See FACULTY OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY..}

Ubiquitous Computing

In the fall of 1998, the Campus Laptop Committee, a group of faculty and staff, was charged to review a laptop pilot program that had been running for four years and provide a plan for its expansion. That committee recommended that Rensselaer proceed with a requirement that all freshmen own laptops beginning in the fall of 1999. After a review by the various campus constituencies, the plan was approved, and an implementation team was established with members representing all the campus organizations that interact with incoming students. The Leadership Team consisted of the chairs of each of six committees: Acquisition and Affordability, Curriculum, Marketing, Students, Technology and Facilities, and Distribution and Training. Together, this group developed a master schedule for the program and provided overall perspective to the committees and the campus community.

From the standpoint of curriculum, the biggest problem was making sure that the faculty teaching first-year courses had an opportunity to make plans for the use of laptops in the classroom. For many of the faculty this was a small change, since they were already teaching in computer classrooms. But for others, it was a major transformation. To assist them, faculty were provided an opportunity to obtain laptop computers identical to those that the students would be using and to participate in a two-day workshop on the use of laptops in the curriculum. This program, organized by the Curriculum Committee, gave the faculty an opportunity to hear from those who had done pioneer work with laptops in the classroom, both at Rensselaer and beyond. Faculty who had participated in the pilot program and others who had made innovative uses of technology in the classroom gave demonstrations for their colleagues. Participants then divided into discipline-specific groups to begin plans for their own courses.

To provide the infrastructure for this initiative, 37 classrooms have been remodeled over the past two years to provide laptop connectivity for students and faculty. This also included upgraded projection facilities, and, in some cases, completely renovated rooms to accommodate the new style of teaching.

Self-Assessment and Planning

The Undergraduate College has been actively engaged in the Rensselaer planning process and has completed a three-year Performance Plan. The development of this plan relied upon the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee, the Student Senate Academic Affairs Committee, meetings with planning committees of the other schools, and the cross-cutting planning meetings held with the other academic deans. The Undergraduate College will focus its strategic planning for the next three years on the following major areas of emphasis identified in The Rensselaer Plan.

Undergraduate Programs and Students

Goal: Offer a rich portfolio of traditional and nontraditional choices related to technology, the scientific underpinnings of technology, the technological professions, and the human and social dimensions of technology.

  • Update the core curriculum to reflect advances in research strengths, including information technology, biotechnology, and scientific and technological entrepreneurship.
  • Ensure that undergraduate programs are modern and of high quality by institutionalizing outcomes assessment and evaluation into all education programs that constantly inform the faculty and the administration of the quality of their teaching.

Goal: Attract a higher percentage of top-rated applicants to our programs, particularly women and minorities.

  • Use the Undergraduate Research Program as a means for improving the quality and diversity of incoming students.
Interactive Learning

Goal: Achieve a national leadership role in pedagogical research and in the application of educational technology for undergraduate education.

  • Pursue dual research agendas in innovative teaching methods and in the application of educational technology.
  • Provide incentives and support for faculty working on teaching innovations.
Participation in Research and Innovation

Goal: Use curriculum and programs to ensure that every student has an opportunity to apply and synthesize the basic knowledge obtained in his or her discipline and core curriculum courses to the solution of a significant, open-ended, research or design problem.

  • Enlarge the Undergraduate Research Program.
  • Require that all students have an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply and communicate the accumulated knowledge of their undergraduate education in the solution of significant problems, designs, or projects appropriate to their discipline.
Student Services

Goal: Provide high-quality advising and mentoring for undergraduates.

  • Provide proactive information in the form of information and new processes, with the goal of enabling students to resolve academic issues and problems quickly and accurately.
Physical Facilities

Goal: Create a teaching environment, both in and out of the classroom, that enables the latest teaching innovations, makes maximum use of Rensselaer's technological infrastructure, and encourages interaction among students and faculty.


The mission of the Graduate School is to ensure that all graduate programs reflect the quality of content, instruction, and service expected for programs that carry the name of Rensselaer, and that all Rensselaer graduate students, whether full-time residence-based, part-time campus-based, or distributed throughout the world, experience a nurturing learning environment and a rewarding learning experience.

The Graduate School focuses on the academic aspects of graduate education. It seeks to be a centralized, value-adding organization that ensures consistency of quality and administration across all graduate academic programs.

The principle responsibilities and objectives of the Graduate School are to:

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

Several developments since the last review by Middle State have had significant impact on the Graduate School and graduate education at Rensselaer.

Changes in Strategic Direction

Most significantly, The Rensselaer Plan calls for Rensselaer to make a fundamental change: from a highly reputable university driven for 177 years primarily by undergraduate education, to a world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact. The Rensselaer Plan calls for a major expansion in research and graduate education, specifically calling for a doubling of research volume and a doubling of the annual number of Ph.D. degrees awarded. The Rensselaer Plan also calls for a significant improvement in the quality of graduate student lives and the graduate student learning experience, a closer alignment of graduate programs with the strengths and intellectual core of the academic units, and an extension of Rensselaer's success in interactive learning to graduate programs.

These changes in strategic directions will have a profound impact on Rensselaer, and the Graduate School is a key element in implementing these changes.

Organizational Changes

Since 1997, both graduate admissions and the essential duties of the Graduate School had been performed by the Office of Graduate Academic and Enrollment Services. This unit reported to the dean of the faculty, who also served as graduate dean.

In response to the strong focus on research and graduate education articulated in The Rensselaer Plan, the Institute reestablished the Graduate School in May 2000. Dr. William C. Jennings, vice provost for Professional and Distance Education, was appointed to the additional role of interim dean of the Graduate School to begin the reestablishment of a strong central organization focused on graduate academic issues. Dean Jennings reports to the provost and is a regular member of the Deans' Council.

Concurrently, Rensselaer created a new Enrollment Management unit, which is responsible for recruiting and admitting both undergraduates and graduate students to Rensselaer, and with helping them "cross the threshold" as they become Rensselaer students. This unit is headed by Teresa Duffy, dean of Enrollment Management, who also reports to the provost and serves as a member of the Deans' Council.

Prior to these changes, undergraduate admissions had been part of the Student Life organization for many years. The new organization provides for a much stronger focus on both graduate academic issues by the Graduate School and on the recruitment of high quality graduate students by Enrollment Management. In addition, all of the admissions activities are now part of Academic Affairs.

Developing Synergy

Discussions have already begun to develop clearer distinctions between the duties and responsibilities of the dean of the Graduate School, the dean of undergraduate education, and the dean of students. A new, formal job description has been developed for the permanent graduate dean and a search is under way.

Sorting out the various responsibilities for all three deans will be an ongoing process over the next two to three years. Significant changes in current responsibilities are expected, with clear responsibility for academic issues residing in the academic deans, and responsibility for behavioral issues residing with the dean of students. These changes will need to be fully discussed with both student and faculty governance groups before they are implemented.

New Graduate Programs and Changes in Graduate Programs

As it rebuilds, the Graduate School continues to provide oversight on regulations concerning academic curricula and theses, and coordination of accreditation and licensing reviews with the state, regional, and professional organizations.

In the last five years, three new graduate degree programs have been established: an M.S. in Information Technology, an M.S. in Interdisciplinary Science, and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Science. Each new degree proposed was reviewed at the school level, by the Graduate School, and by the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee, and was finally approved by the provost. Each program then underwent external review by the New York State Education Department. The Ph.D. program was reviewed in the cycle established by the Doctoral Review process in New York state. The M.S. in Information Technology was approved by New York state in the spring of 2000, while the M.S. and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Science were approved in the fall of that year.

Curricular requirements for the Master of Fine Arts are now under review by the Arts Department. There are also proposed modifications in the M.S. in Environmental Management and Policy program. These changes will be taken through the Institute review cycle. Curricular changes made in each program may require state reapproval. The Graduate School will assess the extent of change and coordinate reapplication if necessary.

In January 2001, Rensselaer underwent a capability review for distance learning programs by the New York State Department of Education. Rensselaer currently offers 15 master's degree programs and more than 20 certificate programs to distance-based students.

Self-Assessment and Planning

The Performance Plan for Graduate Education submitted in December 2000 provided a vision and mission for graduate education, described the alignment of future plans with The Rensselaer Plan, performed a detailed SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of existing graduate education activities, and outlined in detail four strategic goals for the future.

Strategic Goals
  1. Rebuild the Graduate School

Rensselaer's Graduate School will be recognized as a strong, centralized, value-adding organization that is adequately led and sufficiently staffed to establish consistency across all graduate academic programs for quality of content, instruction, and service, promote the development of new programs, and ensure a nurturing and rewarding learning experience for all graduate students.

  1. Prepare for Expansion

The Graduate School will develop policies, guidelines, and support staff for graduate programs that focus on the specialized needs of full-time residence-based students, part-time campus-based students, and part-time distributed students, with specific emphasis on the expected expansion of full-time Ph.D. students and distributed part-time students.

  1. Improve Programs

The Graduate School will develop and launch an internal, programmatic review process that will regularly assess graduate programs for quality of content, instruction, and service, with the goal of proactively recommending changes/additions/deletions to graduate programs.

  1. Develop Synergy

The Graduate School will work with the dean of undergraduate education and the dean of students to clearly delineate areas of responsibility and authority, with particular attention to developing synergistic activities between the undergraduate and graduate deans.


The mission of the School of Architecture is to prepare the most effective practitioners of architecture and its related fields for international practice in the 21st century. Its vision is to establish the School of Architecture as an international center for the integration of innovations in technology and science into design at many scales -- from products to the community -- applied to sustaining and enabling environments. The academic program and pedagogy of the School of Architecture promote the general education of the individual, wherein skills of critical judgment, value formation, and intellectual rigor are considered essential for professional practice and for life-long learning.

The School continues to operate as a single academic entity with no separate departments and one major research center. Administered by the dean, Alan Balfour, and an associate dean, the school has 23.5 FTE faculty, adjunct, and research appointments.

In addition to the dean and associate dean, a director of graduate studies and a director of each of five graduate degree programs administer the academic programs of the school. In 2000, a research coordinator position was created to support strategic research efforts at the graduate levels. The Lighting Research Center (LRC), established in 1989 and headed by its own director, has grown to 35 FTE research-funded faculty and staff with an annual research budget of $3.5 million. The Lighting Research Center maintains its role as internationally recognized leader of lighting research.

The administrative staff, exclusive of the LRC, has been increased and reorganized to include four and one-half positions in support of the dean and School. One additional administrative position is being filled at this time. Student involvement and leadership in the school has grown. Students serve on many of the school's committees, manage and operate the supply store, and maintain a chapter of American Institute of Architects Students (AIAS).

Undergraduate degree programs lead to the five-year professional B.Arch. in Architecture and the four-year B.S. in Building Sciences. An initiative of the Schools of Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Architecture has led to the Product Design and Innovation (PDI) dual degree option between the B.S. in Building Sciences and the B.S. in Science and Technology Studies.

The School offers a three-year professional Master of Architecture (M.Arch. I) degree, as well as post-professional master's degrees (M.Arch. II) in workplace design and in informatics and architecture. Master of Science degrees are offered in lighting, building conservation, informatics and architecture, and workplace design.

The National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB) reviews the B.Arch. and M.Arch. programs for professional accreditation every five years. Last reviewed in 1998, the School received a positive report and full five-year accreditation in the broader climate in which many peer schools were receiving shortened accreditation terms. Rensselaer has maintained continuous accreditation by NAAB of the B.Arch. degree since it was first received in 1945. The NAAB site visit, evaluation, and accreditation served to confirm the direction of program development and direction of the school. The strengths and weaknesses articulated in the report serve as part of a living process of curriculum renewal.

Relevant External Changes/Challenges

Dramatic shifts are occurring in the societal, technological, and academic context of the discipline. The architecture profession, the scope of its enterprise, services it offers, and products it delivers are changing.

Rensselaer's School of Architecture is committed to maintaining a leadership role and has continued to position itself -- through symposia on emerging technologies, strategic hires, and the development of a strong computing infrastructure -- to address new technologies, techniques, and concerns in the professional and graduate programs.

At the same time, the School remains steadfastly committed those traditional disciplinary principles dedicated to understanding profound cultural values and aspirations manifest in the making of environments that impact people and institutions. Continuing changes in the global environment and international demographics will impel worldwide political and economic restructuring. Equally compelling and important shifts in national and regional economies are expected to continue to challenge the best efforts in ethical, academic, and professional leadership relative to the built environment.

Rensselaer views technology as a change agent that requires the integration of design knowledge and creativity along with critical evaluation and direction. These are the demanding challenges in which architecture is placed as an academic and professional discipline.

Responding to these challenges requires the pursuit of excellence in selected areas of architectural education and research through critical practices defined as models for informing, contributing to, and ultimately leading the profession of architecture and building science research.

Over the past five years, the School has continued to develop its curriculum and pedagogy based upon critical inquiry, emphasizing the combined role of scholarship, research, and design undertaken as rigorous exploration of questions and issues raised by the design of the built environment. The relationship to, and influence of, technology to both design procedures and the environments produced has assumed an increasingly important place in the curriculum and pedagogy.

New graduate programs have been created to provide creative outlets in specific areas of expertise, to develop research streams, and to develop expertise and resources in support of the professional programs.

In addition to the School's two professional degree programs (the five-year Bachelor of Architecture and the three-and-one-half-year Master of Architecture), specific subdisciplines and contexts are the focus of the graduate programs, including a Master of Science in Lighting, and the newly established M.Arch. and M.S. in Informatics and Architecture, Architectural Acoustics, Building Conservation, and Workplace Design.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

Since the last Middle States accreditation in 1996, the School has undergone several significant changes, in part to increase the efficiency of its operation, but most importantly to establish itself as a more significant school with a higher ranking among the professional and academic communities.

The School's mission, to prepare students for leadership practices in a global economy and community, in control of, and empowered by new technologies, has been guided by Dean Balfour, who began his tenure in 1995. Preparing students for a rapidly changing and expanding discipline, global in scope and driven by emerging technologies, both broadens and sharpens the previous mission.

Curricular Changes

Significant curricular changes since the previous evaluation lie primarily in the integration of computing and technology into the design curriculum, and in the expansion of the thesis/final project as a year-long research and design "capstone" requirement that includes a required research/methodology component and a five-week competition studio.

In an effort to see the architectural enterprise as a more integrative and interdisciplinary one, the first-year design studio has been revised as a multidisciplinary design studio opened to both Architecture and Product Design and Innovation (PDI) students. Associations with the Civil Engineering Department have led to the joint studios and workshops as well as appointment of faculty from an internationally leading engineering practice.

Other interdisciplinary collaborations include joint studios in product design with Engineering and Science and Technology Studies, industrial design with Mechanical Engineering, and performance space design with Arts.

New Graduate Programs

As a strategy to strengthen its reputation, develop a more diversified base, spur research, and bring specific areas of expertise to the faculty, several new graduate programs were formed, building on the success of the Lighting Research Center.

Informatics and Architecture is a research program exploring the relationship between advanced computing technologies and architecture design. The program integrates technological development, cultural and architecture theory, and design to form a critical foundation for experimental research.

Building Conservation is a program of advanced studies leading to a Master of Science in Building Conservation for architectural or engineering practitioners who wish to build expertise in historic structures and building conservation. The program welcomes graduate students with related degrees and professional experience.

Architectural Acoustics is a program of advanced studies in the acoustics of buildings relating to sound control and maximization relating to performance spaces. It is for students who have already earned a B.A. or B.S. in architecture, architectural engineering, music and acoustics, or comparable degrees.

Workplace Design is a program of advanced studies related to the design, technologies, and management of the intelligent workplace. Intelligent workplaces include environments that are responsive, attractive, and cost-effective. Research and design studies explore the use of advanced and emerging design, human productivity, and environmental qualities.

Faculty and Students

The administrative organization has expanded in kind to include a director of each graduate program and a director who oversees all the graduate studies programs. Administrative support has been expanded proportionately.

As changes in direction have occurred, particularly toward emerging computing technologies, a significant contribution from strategic adjunct hires, many associated with progressive professional practices, has spurred the transition. Several of these hires have matured into clinical and tenure-track appointments resulting in a diverse faculty with direct relationships to significant practices in specialized areas of the profession, many associated with the new graduate degree programs.

The School's strategy is to maintain its undergraduate program and population while growing graduate programs and research. Since 1996, the overall student population has increased slightly from 288 to 306, including a small drop in undergraduate population more than offset by growth in new graduate programs. The graduate population has grown from 33 to 80 students in that time. During that same period, the FTE faculty has moved from 17 in 1996-97 to 23.5 in 1999-2000.


Since 1996, the School's facilities have received considerable attention, with long-overdue renovations to many of the public spaces, including several life-safety and accessibility upgrades. The administrative offices have been consolidated on the ground level of the Greene Building, where a new graduate student area has also been added.

Most significant and critical to the School's mission, however, is the progress made in wiring the building to the high-speed campus network. Offices have been wired and faculty provided with the necessary computing infrastructure.

Studio 305, referred to as the "digital, nondigital workplace" represents the direction taken by the school in the revision of its primary teaching spaces. By adding computing in a ubiquitous and experimental manner without displacing other manual tools, such as physical modeling and drawing, the studio is wired to receive laptops and equipped with mobile high-end specialized tools that enrich the range of procedural and representational resources available to the teaching/learning setting.

To empower the first classes of students entering with laptops, the two largest studios have also been renovated to provide network access and power to every studio desk.

Through grants from Intel and the Institute, a robust infrastructure has been created in the Greene building, including a render farm, servers, output devices that complement the Institute's strong infrastructure, specialized software, and video projection equipment in the wired studios. One major studio, one classroom, and several smaller studios remain on the schedule for further renovations and refurnishing.

In 1999-2000, the Lighting Research Center was consolidated and relocated into newly renovated third and fourth floors of the Gurley Building in downtown Troy. This expanded the Center's space substantially and improved the laboratory, teaching, and administrative facilities.

Self-Assessment and Planning

In addition to the self-assessment and planning undertaken during The Rensselaer Plan process, a self-study was performed by the School in preparation for the most recent five-year cycle of professional accreditation by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) in 1998. This study engaged the faculty and administration in the evaluation of each course, the curriculum, facilities, human resources, and fiscal support. Renewed accreditation served to confirm the program's development and direction and set forth both strengths and weaknesses that serve as part of a living process of curriculum renewal, now in final stages relative to the professional programs.

Two groups in particular provide the School with continuing evaluation. As part of the governance system, students serving on School committees comprise the "Student Advisory Committee," which meets each term with the dean and school committee chairs. The Dean of Architecture's Advisory Committee includes a group of distinguished alumni(ae) that meet at the School each year to advise on School initiatives and progress.

Student evaluation of all courses is implemented by distribution of a standardized IDEA course evaluation form at the end of each term, the results of which are recorded by the School office, reviewed and analyzed externally against a national average, and returned to the School and respective instructor. Following an objective evaluation by external sources, reports are returned to the faculty and School file and made available to the Curriculum Committee faculty for review. Additionally, the School maintains a course binder (kept on file in the School office) that includes course syllabi and handouts, examples of student work, evaluations, and the instructor's related publications, as the basis of reflective faculty and course evaluation.

Summer 1998 and 2000 faculty retreats led to a core curriculum review process charged to evaluate and revise core content in view of preparing students for international 21st century practice and with respect to the NAAB accreditation report. An analysis of the knowledge and skill sets that comprise the required common core, methods, modes and means of delivery are being considered integrally and in concert with the School's mission. This effort, now in its final stages, is facultywide and includes student participation. As a result, the process has also reaffirmed the critical importance of the ongoing initiative to build graduate faculty, programs, and research designed to strengthen the School's resource base.

Strategic Goals

The strategic goals designed to accomplish the mission of preparing graduates to be effective practitioners of architecture and its related fields, for international practice in the 21st century are articulated in the School's Performance Plan.

The highest priorities include strategic senior faculty hires, developing the Virtual Environments Laboratory as a base for leading research initiatives, completing the renovations of the Greene Building, developing IT, lighting, and sonics research, and developing the "Virtual Rensselaer," including networks linking the School of Architecture to schools, practices, industries, and institutions worldwide. The development of research and growth of focused graduate programs will expand the base and network of the School as it makes critical shifts in response and anticipation of new economies and expanded practices of architecture.

Response to Issues Identified in the Last Review

The last review by Middle States included the following statement about the School of Architecture: "The faculty has significantly decreased from 1987 to 1995, during a time when the student count increased. There is a perception that the Architecture School needs stronger internal funding and outside resources."

Since 1996, the School of Architecture slightly increased its student population from 288 to 306, a change of 5.5 percent, primarily in graduate education. During that same period the FTE faculty increased from 17 in 1996 to 23.5 (38 percent increase) with a proportional increase in staff support. The budget has risen from $1.950 million in 1995-96 to $2.625 million in 2001-02, an increase of 34 percent. Although the principal strategy for developing outside sources has been through the Lighting Research Center, the recently established architectural acoustics graduate program has also achieved early success in developing external support. In 2001 the School created and filled the position of research coordinator dedicated to developing research and outside funding sources.


As the largest School within the Institute, it is appropriate that the School of Engineering's mission and that of the Institute be closely aligned, and that Engineering's vision build upon the vision set forth in The Rensselaer Plan.

The mission is to educate the leaders of tomorrow for technology-based careers, to celebrate discovery and the responsible application of technology, and to create knowledge and global prosperity. The vision is to be a top-tier school of engineering with global reach and global impact, committed to technological excellence by integrating research and education and educating for career success.

The School of Engineering is administered by a dean, an associate dean for research, an associate dean for academic and student affairs, a director of core engineering, and a director for women's programs in engineering. In addition, the dean is supported by a manager for engineering administration, a manager of financial operations, and an administrative assistant. A new position of Web site manager was filled in February 2001. This position will also be responsible for the areas of public relations and marketing formerly managed by an assistant dean.

The School is currently comprised of nine departments: Biomedical Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Civil Engineering; Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems; Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering; Electric Power Engineering; Environmental and Energy Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering; and Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering and Mechanics.

In July 2000, three major research centers -- the Center for Automation Technologies (CAT); the Center for Integrated Electronics and Electronics Manufacturing (CIEEM); and the Scientific Computation Research Center (SCOREC) -- were transferred from the School of Engineering to the Office of the Vice President for Research to better coordinate the expanded and refocused research thrusts and activities of these centers, and to better assure and enable the interschool collaboration and research growth envisioned in The Rensselaer Plan. Engineering continues to play a principal role in these interdisciplinary centers; all of them are currently being directed by a faculty member from the SoE, as is the Center for Nanotechnology Research created in March 2001.

The major centers remaining in the School of Engineering are the Center for Composite Materials and Structures, the Center for Image Processing Research, the Center for Multiphase Research, and the Center for Infrastructure and Transportation Studies.

Research centers within academic departments include the Bioseparations Research Center (in Chemical Engineering), the Geotechnical Centrifuge Research Center (in Civil Engineering), and the Center for Services Research and Education (in Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems). The Rotorcraft Technology Center (in Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering and Mechanics) was closed, while the Agile Manufacturing Research Center (originally in the CIEEM) and the Rensselaer Statistical Consulting Center were added (in Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems).

The number of tenure-track and tenured faculty in the School stands at 134, down just slightly from 136 in 1996 and a high of 155 in 1987. Under the five-year initiative called Engineering Renaissance at Rensselaer (ER2), the number of tenure-track faculty was expected to increase to about 157 by the year 2000. Unfortunately, this initiative did not realize the level of endowment support required for such faculty growth. There has been, however, notable success in hiring new replacement faculty in many departments within the SoE.

Rensselaer's School of Engineering is a Carnegie Research University, Class I, according to the latest classifications. The graduate programs of the SoE have always been ranked in the top 7 percent by U.S. News and World Report, and most recently were in the top 6 percent. The School is ranked ninth among the private university schools of engineering. As a metric of research productivity, only four schools (Stanford, Berkeley, Cal Tech, and USC) are significantly above Rensselaer in terms of doctoral students/faculty.

The School's research team consists primarily of the 134 tenured and tenure-track faculty, of which 75 percent are classified as "research active." This faculty base is augmented by research faculty (at various levels), research staff, visiting researchers, postdocs, and, of course, graduate students. The SoE has produced about 80 percent of the doctoral degrees annually awarded by Rensselaer. The graduate admissions process is selective, accepting only 31 percent of those who apply.

Some 355 master's and doctoral degrees were awarded in 2000. The number of doctorates, although showing some fluctuation, has declined since 1995-96 (when 86 Ph.D. students graduated), reaching 57 in academic year 1999-2000. This is a national trend attributed to the strength of the economy in the U.S. over the past five years or so.

The number of bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering has also dropped slightly since 1995-96, to 547 in 1999-2000 versus 640 in 1995-96, and from record levels of 650-700 in 1985-87 and 1991-92. While seemingly inconsistent with growing interest in science and technology, especially in the area of computer systems engineering, this decline really is a reflection of Rensselaer offering alternative programs like Product Design and Innovation, Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication, and Information Technology to students who are unsatisfied in engineering. While growth of interest in computer engineering over the past two years has been observed nationally, the growth in both the number and the quality of applicants and admissions to the SoE is not widely seen elsewhere.

Relevant External Changes/Challenges

The Institute and the School of Engineering continuously benchmark the nation's first-tier technological universities and engineering schools. Trends in the demographics of college-age young people and in the needs of industry as future employers of our graduates are tracked continuously, so that Rensselaer may lead rather than follow. Some examples of this leadership are noted below.

  • Recruiters know when they hire a Rensselaer engineer that he or she is technically competent. More than ever, however, the employers of Rensselaer graduates value skills in teamwork, leadership, communication, vision, and values (or ethics). What they look for increasingly are professional and life skills that have been learned, practiced, and ingrained beyond technical competence. In recognition of this trend, the School instituted its highly acclaimed and widely admired Professional Development sequence, commencing with Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) for the Class of 2001 in the fall of 1998 when they were sophomores.
  • The ability to design -- not just within one's discipline, but in a truly multidisciplinary environment -- is critical to modern engineers. Today's engineers need to be knowledgeable about business, appreciate, if not embody, entrepreneurship, and be sensitive to issues of society and the environment as never before. Toward this end, the SoE has recently established its Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory (MDL) facility and curriculum. As we move to the future under The Rensselaer Plan, a wide variety of experiences in entrepreneurship -- formal and informal -- will permeate the undergraduate engineering curriculum.
  • Finally, there is the dramatic growth in undergraduate enrollment in computer systems engineering and its sister disciplines of information technology and computer science. This growth has strained the existing faculty, and made new demands for expansion in both the number and the disciplinary mix of the faculty, and on the classroom and laboratory/studio facilities.
Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

The most significant leadership change in the School of Engineering over the past five years was the dean incumbent. After a term of four years, the dean appointed in 1994 stepped down in spring 1998; the School was led by an acting dean until the current dean, Dr. William A. Baeslack, III, took office on November 1, 1999. The new dean is part of the management team installed by President Jackson, and will lead the School under The Rensselaer Plan. A new associate dean for academic and student affairs was named to an acting post in September 1999 by the then acting dean, and was appointed to the permanent position following an internal search by Dean Baeslack in February 2000.

Since 1996, 29 new faculty have been hired, of whom 26 were junior faculty members. The junior faculty who have been hired since 1996 are remarkable for their quality. Eleven have been the recipients of the NSF's Early Career Award (including one who received the highly prestigious President's Award) in recognition of their accomplishments and future potential. Three others received Rensselaer's own Early Career Award. Among the more senior faculty, two SoE faculty received the Wiley Distinguished Faculty Award, four the Trustee's Outstanding Faculty Award, five the Rensselaer Alumni Association's Outstanding Teacher Award, two the Jerome Fischbach Travel Award, and three were selected by the students to receive the Darrin Counseling Award.


Recent research highlights include the following:

  • A second NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) in Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems was awarded with Northeastern University, Boston University, and the University of Puerto Rico. (Rensselaer's first NSF ERC is in Power Electronics, with Virginia Tech and others.)
  • The New York State Center for Automation Technologies (CAT) was renewed for another 10 years.
  • Since 1998, in only two years, 10 of Rensselaer's SoE faculty have received the prestigious Early Career Award from the NSF; with another receiving this award in 1996.
  • Research expenditures continue to rise, and based on reported figures, the expenditures/research-active faculty is approaching $400K. Major multidisciplinary proposals have been recently submitted in the area of nanotechnology, among others.

Research also involves undergraduate student participation in research programs such as Undergraduate Research Projects. In April 2000, a first Research Forum was held by the SoE with more than 50 student projects and 200 student participants, all undergraduates. Special departmental honors programs, such as the NSF's REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) Program, further encourage undergraduate participation in research.

Professional and Distance Education

A significant change since 1996 has been the number of credit hours taught by the School of Engineering via distance learning out of the Troy campus under Rensselaer's Professional and Distance Education program. In academic year 1996-97, the number of such credit hours taught was 1,674 (387 at the advanced undergraduate/graduate 4000-level; 1,287 at the graduate 6000-level). In academic year 1999-2000, the number had grown to 2,301 (36 at the 4000-level; 2,265 at the 6000-level). This appears to be a continuing trend and opportunity for growth, given what seems to be a changing need for practicing engineers to continue with graduate education while remaining on the job.

Undergraduate Curriculum

The SoE has undertaken several new initiatives to enrich the education of the students. The major reform of the entire undergraduate curriculum to the 4x4 model (four 4-credit courses per semester) begun at the time of the last report to Middle States, was implemented in 1998. A large numbers of courses have been converted from a traditional lecture to an interactive studio mode, the use of interactive learning techniques in and beyond the classroom has been increased, a new professional development sequence has been introduced into the curriculum, courses have been enhanced by adding in-class mobile computing, and efforts are under way to provide every senior in the SoE with the opportunity to have a multidisciplinary design experience.

Studio Mode of Delivery -- Several extremely large foundational courses within the uniform two-year core engineering curriculum have been converted to the studio mode over the last five years. These include Chemistry of Materials I and II, Embedded Control, Electric Circuits, Electronic Instrumentation, Fields and Waves, Mechatronics, and others. In Embedded Control, as an example, each group is equipped with the chassis and motor of a model car that is controlled by an HC-11 microprocessor. A C-code, written by the students, is downloaded to the microprocessor and is used for automatic (sensor-guided) steering, speed, and braking control. In this studio, workstations include function generators, signal processors, oscilloscopes, and other versatile instrumentation. Presentation materials are delivered as PowerPoint slides to flat-panel displays on the student's table/desktop. Other studio courses provide a similar mix of hands-on experience and theoretical background and development. Students are very receptive to the studio mode of teaching and learning, and generally prefer it over conventional delivery modes.

Professional Development Sequence -- Engineers practice in an environment where communication, leadership, teamwork, vision, and adherence to professional standards (e.g., values and ethics) are essential. For this reason, Rensselaer's School of Engineering provides a unique program in which students can formally learn and develop these career and life skills before they get on the job.

The program begins in the sophomore year, when all engineering students complete Professional Development I. This 1-credit course is tied to the sophomore-level design course in which students are assigned to teams that must create and prototype a new design in a thematic area such as exercise equipment, educational toys, or universal design. The same teams that meet in the engineering classrooms also meet in Professional Development I. Here they learn the basics of team building and team development. They study personality types in the context of the work environment. They explore the impact of ethics and values on design decisions, and they learn the pitfalls of interpersonal communication.

The second course in the sequence, Professional Development II, is typically taken in the junior year. The focus here is on a theoretical understanding of leadership. This 2-credit module is taught out of Rensselaer's School of Humanities and Social Sciences by its experts. The final component of the sequence is the 1-credit Professional Development III. In this course, ethics is the predominant topic, taught through an examination of engineering case studies.

The professional development courses are enhanced by frequent visits from representatives of industrial partners, who assure the students of the importance of what they are learning and explain how the themes of the courses are applied in the engineering workplace.

Mobile Computing -- Starting with the Class of 2003, all entering freshmen at Rensselaer are required to own or lease a laptop computer. Laptops allow students access to sophisticated engineering tools used in professional practice. Engineering courses taught in the laptop mode include Engineering Graphics and CAD, Introduction to Engineering Analysis, Engineering Dynamics, and Thermal and Fluids Engineering I. In addition, introduction of mobile computing is planned for several upper-level courses, such as Modeling and Analysis of Uncertainty, and Thermal and Fluids Engineering II.

In Introduction to Engineering Analysis, for example, students learn the fundamentals of vector analysis, matrices, and statics -- all aided by the Maple mathematical manipulation application. This application is also used in calculus and physics courses, giving students a common computing environment. In all cases, laptop courses are interactive, with students solving problems in class with the guidance of the instructor and the teaching assistants. Because the computing resource is mobile, students use their machines more intensely than they use classroom (or residence-based) desktop units. They carry the capability to solve problems to their dorm rooms, to the library, to exams, or to wherever they are thinking and working.

Multidisciplinary Capstone Design -- In January 2001, Rensselaer's SoE opened the O.T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory (MDL). As a central home for the School's required senior capstone design experience, the MDL consists of two main areas:

ˇ The Design Conference Center is located on the newly built mezzanine level in the Jonsson Engineering Center's large high-bay area. This flexible, multiple-use area allows up to 12 design teams (of up to six members each) to meet at once. Each meeting area is equipped with advanced networking technology to facilitate interactive experiences among students, sponsors, and faculty advisers.

ˇ The Fabrication and Prototype Evaluation Space is located on the first floor of the complex, with the Prototype Evaluation Space located just below the Design Conference Center, and the Fabrication Space located in the remaining high-bay area. This combined space will ultimately be equipped for rapid prototyping, materials and small-structure testing, nondestructive testing and measurement, electronics prototyping, general fabrication and assembly, system integration, and a variety of engineering processes, depending upon project needs.

During the past two years, more than 200 students from six engineering disciplines have participated on seven industry-sponsored projects, each representing a technically challenging "real-world" problem. The variety of projects has made the experience attractive to a broad range of students. Future projects will include a mix of industry-sponsored problems, entrepreneurial initiatives, and service-oriented efforts, all of which are aligned with student interests and career objectives.

A director of multidisciplinary design, who reports to the associate dean for academic and student affairs, oversees the program, which aims to provide every senior in the SoE with the opportunity to participate in a design experience that is both "culminating" in terms of its challenge, and multidisciplinary in terms of its character.

The SoE plans to expand multidisciplinary design experiences to all departments in the School, as well as to the other schools of the Institute. Students from Rensselaer's Information Technology program are already involved with some of the MDL-sponsored projects.

During the 2001-2002 academic year, students from Rensselaer's new Product Design and Innovation (PDI) program will participate in some MDL-sponsored and service-oriented projects. The intent is to continue to build upon past experiences with MBA students and faculty from the Lally School of Management and Technology to initiate new approaches for introducing innovative entrepreneurial initiatives into the MDL. A plan to add additional technical professional staff to augment the director's skills, allowing projects to be secured and executed in a broader array of disciplines, is also in the development stages.


The five-year period since 1996 has been an extremely busy and productive one in terms of facilities upgrade within the School of Engineering. Major drivers for these upgrades have been creation of new classroom space, creation of some student-faculty community space, conversion of traditional classrooms and laboratories to more flexible and interactive studios, upgrade of major research and support laboratories and facilities, creation of the Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory, and equipping classrooms, laboratories, and studios with state-of-the-art Internet connections and other high-speed data links.

New classroom space was added in the Materials Research Center (MRC). New student lounges were created in the MRC and in several areas in the Jonsson Engineering Center (JEC). These are intended to enhance interaction between faculty and students, and, especially, to give students a real sense of belonging to their department.

The strong move toward studio delivery of courses in an interactive modality led to the total renovation of several traditional classrooms and laboratories into studios. Major examples include the Circuits and Electronics Studio, the Instrumentation Studio, the Core Engineering Studio, and the Alan and Virginia Borck Controls Studio, all in the JEC. Beyond these studios, two additional new computer studios were upgraded and expanded for Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering in the JEC. Still further renovations were completed in the JEC to create Mechanical Systems Labs.

In order to facilitate mobile computing, many classrooms across the SoE were modified to allow Internet access at every desk or seat. Beyond this, a high-speed computing network data link was installed in the Ricketts Building.

In the area of research and instructional support laboratories, the most notable renovation and upgrade was to the Materials Testing Laboratories of the Materials Science and Engineering Department in the MRC. An extensive upgrade on the Linear Accelerator Laboratory used by Nuclear Engineering was completed under Department of Energy funding.

Especially noteworthy, was the creation of the state-of-the-art facilities of the O.T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory in JEC. This 11,000-square-foot complex was completed under a $2+ million project, and was put into service in January 2001. It now serves more than 400 students in learning the theory and practice of design within a multidisciplinary environment, described above.

Finally, one of the two new buildings that are currently being designed for immediate construction under the first year priorities of The Rensselaer Plan is a 200,000-square-foot Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Center, a portion of which will be used by SoE personnel, primarily from the departments of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering.

Outcome Assessment of Learning

In February 1998, the School of Engineering instituted a program to formally assess the learning outcomes of the students and to use these assessments for continuously improving the educational process. A subcommittee of the School of Engineering's Curriculum Committee developed a set of educational objectives with the participation of students, faculty, and industrial advisers. These objectives included both general skills, such as leadership abilities, communication, ethics, and teamwork, as well as technical knowledge in the chosen discipline. An appropriate set of measures was formulated and data were gathered to discover the degree to which objectives were being achieved. Sources of data included alumni surveys, student evaluation of courses, transcript information, exit surveys, and expert evaluations.

In general, evaluation showed that students have been (and continue to be) very well prepared in the great majority of objectives set for them. They excel at design, at fundamental knowledge of math and science, in an appreciation of the humanities and social sciences, and in almost all areas of disciplinary study. Improvements have been shown to be needed in communication, problem solving, teamwork, and the desire to continue life-long learning. (In fact, the alumni from whom these data were gathered graduated before the current professional development sequence was implemented.) Actions have been taken to improve the communication experience in the sophomore design course, as well as in senior capstone design courses.

In addition, an Institutewide reexamination of the core program considered to be appropriate for educating engineers for the 21st century is scheduled for fall 2001. The topic of improved communication skills will be one of the most important areas to be addressed.

To further enhance learning assessment activities, the School has approval and resources to hire a senior faculty member who is a nationally recognized leader in engineering education pedagogy, with skills and strengths in assessment. This individual will provide intellectual leadership to this important activity and work with the campus community to develop innovative assessment tools.


Undergraduate enrollment within the SoE has increased from 2,513 in 1995-96 to 2,682 in 2000-01, while the full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty has gone from 136 to 134 in the same period. Consequently, faculty work load level and distribution is a serious issue.

The two most recent entering freshman classes have 722 and 695 engineering majors, bringing the load on Core Engineering to a very high (near-record) level within freshman and sophomore classes, to be followed by a similar increase in load for the disciplines as these two classes advance to their junior and senior years. This has put particular demands on the Core Engineering classrooms, laboratories, and studios, as well as on the faculty.

The problem is especially acute in areas that have experienced unprecedented growth in popularity, most notably computer systems engineering. Between 1996-97 and 1999-2000, the number of undergraduates enrolled in computer systems engineering jumped from 82 to 163. Pressure on classroom, laboratory, and studio facilities and faculty in the Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering (ECSE) Department are made even greater by the similar popularity of Rensselaer's newly implemented B.S. in Information Technology; one of the most popular second disciplines in the B.S. in IT program is networking and communication offered in conjunction with ECSE. Additional pressure comes from the popularity of dual majors in computer science and computer systems engineering.

These pressures, together with the major reform of the entire undergraduate curriculum to the 4x4 model and the shift to mobile computing, and the increased effort to grow graduate research, have made the need for managed but fairly aggressive, and clearly focused, growth of the faculty of the SoE critically apparent. In an effort to remediate this situation, significant hiring of new tenure-track and tenured faculty is forthcoming under the SoE Performance Plan.

Self-Assessment and Planning

A major activity within the School of Engineering over the past two years has been preparing for a forthcoming visit by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology) in fall 2001. ABET conducts accreditation of engineering programs at colleges and universities (at the program level) every six years (unless a shorter accreditation of say three or two years requires a more frequent visitation). The major change in the ABET process, called Criterion 2000, encourages institutions to implement their own program of continuous quality improvement, setting and assessing their own educational objectives based on their own desired outcomes for their graduates. To prepare for this important visit, but even more importantly to improve the quality of the programs, a special subcommittee of the SoE Curriculum Committee was formed: the Planning and Preparedness Subcommittee.

In support of The Rensselaer Plan, the SoE Performance Plan sets forth specific, bold goals in undergraduate and graduate education, research and scholarship, diversity, and other key areas, and describes the strategies, action plans and resources required to achieve these goals.

The School's Performance Plan proposes to reduce the number of departments to seven by merging the Department of Electric Power Engineering with the Department of Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering, and dissolving the Department of Environmental and Energy Engineering by merging the Nuclear Engineering Program into the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering and Mechanics, and the Environmental Engineering Program into Civil Engineering. These changes in the administrative structure have been reviewed by the President, Board of Trustees, and senior administrators, discussed extensively with faculty, students, and staff, and are currently being reviewed by the Faculty Senate of the Institute. A proposed implementation date of July 1, 2001, has been established.

Under The Rensselaer Plan, and its own Performance Plan, the School is focusing on major research thrusts in biotechnology and information technology. The School is also determining 10 to 15 research focal areas through a faculty-driven process. Examples of these interdisciplinary focal areas include nanostructured materials, imaging technology, microsystems, and education technology. Faculty hires and other new resources will be concentrated exclusively in these focal areas.

To support these thrusts, the Performance Plan proposes a significant increase in the net number of faculty: by 15, eight, and seven in Years 1, 2, and 3 of the Plan, and by an additional five for each of the next seven years thereafter, adding 65 new faculty by 2011, when the total number of tenure-track and tenured faculty in the SoE is expected to reach 200. This number will be augmented by 50 full-time research faculty and 12 technical support staff. The first year of this proposal is being supported by the Institute, with 12 to 15 new faculty members being hired in FY02 over and above replacement hires and Institute Constellation hires.

It is important to note that new faculty will be hired in targeted areas of high research relevance and priority, identified as SoE research focal areas. Many of these focal areas will support the Institute priority areas of information technology and biotechnology. The hiring of at least four computer engineering faculty next year is the School's highest hiring priority, aimed at relieving the current excessive work load in that area.

The SoE's Performance Plan is responsive to the research growth outlined in The Rensselaer Plan. The overall goals are to double current research expenditures and produce 150 of the 250 doctoral degrees per year specified in The Rensselaer Plan, which the School will support with the faculty hiring described above.

Constellation faculty hiring will emphasize faculty in the areas of functional tissue engineering, and biocatalysis and metabolic engineering for the biotechnology area. It will include future chip technologies, tetherless/wireless technology (pervasive networking and distributed intelligence), and multiscale computation for the IT initiative. Additional nonconstellation hiring is earmarked for the SoE research focal areas, with examples being engineering education, imaging technology, nanostructured materials, and microsystems assembly, among others.

A goal for four departments to be ranked in the top 10 in their discipline is specified in the Performance Plan. Research revitalization grants, the rejuvenation of mid-career faculty, as well as improvement of start-up packages for new junior-level faculty are also committed goals.

Response to Issues Identified in the Last Review

An issue raised in the last accreditation review was the School's high promotion and tenure rate. The School's goal is to hire new faculty members of the highest quality and potential who are fully capable of achieving the rank of full professor. However, achieving the goals of The Rensselaer Plan and the SoE Performance Plan will demand an even greater degree of excellence and productivity from the faculty than in the past, and therefore the School will be continuously and visibly "raising the bar" for promotion and tenure in the future.

A second faculty-related issue raised in the last review related to the need for a higher proportion of underrepresented minority faculty. The SoE Performance Plan also identifies this as a priority goal, and proposed a Dean/Provost Minority Hiring Program aimed at providing funds to support the hiring of six junior to senior minority faculty over the next three years. Two of these positions have been funded in the FY02 budget and will be aggressively sought by department chairs and faculty.

A research-related issue raised in the last review expressed concern that nearly 20 percent of the faculty salaries are supported by research "charge-out." This amount has decreased since the last review, but remains at between 15 and 20 percent. It is the goal of the School, as articulated in the Performance Plan, to phase out charge-out beginning with new assistant professors in FY02. This will allow faculty to utilize their funds to more directly support their research, increase the competitiveness of their grants, and make the School budget less vulnerable to changes in research funding.


The research, creative work, and teaching of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Rensselaer focus on life and work in a technological society. The aim is to understand and influence the major decisions that affect the course of technological change and its impact on society.

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences (H&SS) comprises five departments: Arts; Economics; Language, Literature, and Communication (LL&C); Philosophy, Psychology, and Cognitive Science (PP&CS); and Science and Technology Studies (STS). The school is responsible for the Humanities and Social Sciences Core Program (the 24 credit hours in H&SS required of all Rensselaer undergraduates). It also offers undergraduate majors in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communications; Communications; Economics; Philosophy; Psychology; and Science and Society.

There are now 230 majors in the school and an additional 168 students earning dual majors. The school also has 167 graduate students in Arts (M.F.A.), Communication and Rhetoric (M.S. and Ph.D.), Economics (M.S.), Ecological Economics (Ph.D.), Philosophy (M.S.), Psychology (M.S.), Science and Technology Studies (M.S. and Ph.D.), and Technical Communication (M.S.).

Rensselaer's School of Humanities and Social Sciences is charged with providing perspective, breadth, and skills for all students throughout the university. In addition, the School has effectively built new programs strong enough to attract substantial and growing numbers of majors and dual majors.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

In 1996, Dr. Faye Duchin was appointed dean of the School of H&SS. This appointment will be reviewed next year. Dean Duchin appointed Larry Kagan, professor of art, as associate dean for curriculum initiatives, and Terri Harrison, associate professor of LL&C, as associate dean for graduate programs and research initiatives. A full-time core curriculum adviser was also appointed and two new administrative positions created, director of program development and director of external communication.


The B.S. degree in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication (EMAC), has been offered jointly by the Department of Arts and the Department of Language, Literature, and Communication since 1996. It has now nearly reached full capacity with 275 majors, mainly students who would not otherwise have come to Rensselaer and internal transfers who might otherwise have left the university. These students are acquiring highly marketable skills with cutting-edge multimedia technologies while also developing the esthetic dimensions of their work. The program's strong leadership and broad base of faculty talent have succeeded in making the electronic arts and computer-mediated communication integral parts of the Institutewide program in Information Technology. Recently the EMAC program has substantially expanded its provision of student advising, an area of student discontent in the past.


The Arts Department has recently received approval for a new B.S. in Electronic Arts. The first students in this degree program will enter in 2002.

A dramatic increase in majors in this department has led to the following increases in faculty, staff, and facilities:

  • from 4.5 tenure-track faculty to 9, with 4 searches ongoing
  • from 0 to 1.5 clinical faculty, with the search for one lecturer ongoing
  • from 2 to 10 full-time staff (office and technical)
  • 5 major studio facilities added, plus graduate studios and faculty work spaces
  • increased TA support from 1.5 to 8 annually

The M.F.A. program has continued to do well. Alumni are now showing their work at major international art festivals and about 15 are now teaching in colleges and universities nationally and abroad.


Since 1996, the department has tried, as yet without success, to get a new start under a new chair. After two searches that produced no solution, a retired member of the department was asked to serve as interim chair and help with a new search. This is currently under way. Depleted faculty numbers and perhaps the lack of steady leadership have taken a toll on undergraduate enrollments. Efforts are under way to reverse this and to begin some recruiting in advance of the rebuilding that a new chair will lead.

Nevertheless, the interdisciplinary graduate program in ecological economics has been quite successful. It has drawn students from the U.S. and Europe, has secured several research grants, granted its first degrees in 1999-2000, and has seen its students secure good jobs.

Language, Literature, and Communication (LL&C)

This department, too, has had many changes in leadership. Since 1996, it has been headed by three chairs or acting chairs, the most recent one being the result of a successful external search. Undergraduate programs in the department are increasingly designed to provide students with the multidisciplinary education that is essential for leadership in an information society. In particular, there is new emphasis on the new communication technologies.

The B.S. in communication has been revamped to include a number of topical "pursuits" -- communication and digital media; visual design; media and culture; human-computer interface; literature and interpretation; written and spoken communication; and language study.

There are now three "pathways" (a coherent sequence of courses) in the M.S. program -- electronic media, arts, and communication (EMAC); human-computer interaction (HCI); and Web-based instruction and design. LL&C's doctoral program has recently undergone a substantial reorientation based on an integrated conception of communication. The revised graduate program will be an important part of the IT program. Pathways in the Ph.D. program are communication and computers; media design and analysis; and rhetoric, culture, and communication technology.

The assessment of writing skills and the Institute writing requirement for all undergraduates has been altered. In the past, an examination was given and students who did not pass were required to take a remedial writing course. Now, only those students with AP English or high verbal SATs are exempted. All others must choose from a menu of writing or writing-intensive courses. The writing across the curriculum program has dwindled for lack of institutional support.

Science and Technology Studies (STS)

Since 1996, this department has been headed by four chairs (or acting or interim chairs), due in part to the untimely death of Professor John Schumacher. The B.S. in STS is now organized around five areas of concentration: biology, medicine and society; information, society, and culture; environment and society; engineering, design, and society; and law, values, and public policy.

The most significant changes in the undergraduate programs concern a significant increase in the number of dual majors, a change made possible by the Institute's change to the 4x4 curriculum, which freed up additional elective credits for undergraduates. Of particular note are two new dual programs -- Product Design and Innovation (PDI) and Ecological Economics, Values, and Policy (EEVP).

Offered jointly by the Schools of Engineering, Architecture, and Humanities and Social Sciences, Product Design and Innovation prepares students to become innovative, socially-aware designers. Ecological Economics, Values, and Policy is offered jointly by the Departments of Economics and Science and Technology Studies and prepares students to play a leading role in resolving the critical environmental and social problems of the 21st century. A professional master's degree is also offered in EEVP.

The M.S. and Ph.D. in STS continue to attract top students who are being trained to provide stewardship in a technological society. Graduates continue to have success finding employment as researchers, teachers, planners, and advisers in academe, government agencies, nonprofits, and the private sector. The graduate curriculum was recently reevaluated to take into account new faculty interests and needs. Changes have been agreed upon to increase flexibility in the Ph.D. core.

Philosophy, Psychology, and Cognitive Sciences (PP&CS)

After the merger in 1993 of the Departments of Psychology and Philosophy, PP&CS has developed an emphasis on cognitive science and cognitive engineering. For example, the new undergraduate program, Minds and Machines, involves students in hands-on research at the intersection of computer science, logic, psychology, and artificial intelligence.

As in other departments in the school, PP&CS has seen a significant growth in the number of dual majors, particularly those combining majors in computer science with psychology (approximately 60 students).

The department also now offers an interdisciplinary professional M.S. in cognitive systems engineering. PP&CS is developing a proposal for a Ph.D. program in applied cognitive science, in parallel with the sharper focusing of its research agenda in this direction.

Faculty Governance

In 1999, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences instituted a Faculty Council made up of elected representatives of each of the five departments, plus two at-large members. The Faculty Council has replaced the H&SS Curriculum Committee; the associate dean for undergraduate education serves as an ex-officio member of Council when curricular matters are discussed. In addition to curricular matters, the Council concerns itself with other faculty issues, such as annual evaluations, promotion and tenure, and performance planning. This past year the Council formed two ad-hoc committees: one to launch an initiative for supporting the humanities, and another to address H&SS core reform. H&SS is the only school to have such a council.

Self-Assessment and Planning

The School's 2000 Performance Plan details the ways in which faculty and staff in H&SS intend to strengthen programs in the humanities, in the arts, and in the social sciences to help Rensselaer achieve the goals and objectives laid out in The Rensselaer Plan. The School has developed detailed plans for helping the Institute achieve the Plan's first-year highest priorities.

The School's contribution to achieving these priorities will arise from a focused effort to address several fundamental Institutewide goals. The strategy relies upon enhancing education, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, by systematically reviewing programs schoolwide and continually revising and strengthening the H&SS core curriculum, expanding the research enterprise, and enhancing the vitality of Rensselaer communities by achieving diversity in the talent attracted to Rensselaer, and increasing involvement in the local community.

Greater emphasis will be placed on faculty development initiatives designed to achieve a new level of prominence and excellence. For example, the School has begun to provide start-up packages for new faculty and introduced the expectation of sustained, externally funded research for faculty where this is appropriate.

The strength of the school lies in a relatively high overall quality of faculty and a common concern for the environmental, personal, and social implications of technology and technological change. Intellectual and practical connections to the other Schools continue to be expanded.

The School has lacked highly visible policy analysis and social science research, the latter understood as the formulation and testing of theories (and hypotheses) about the social world through the replicable application of quantitative methods as well as the production of knowledge about the social world through qualitative analysis. The aim now is to create visibility in quantitative analysis and integrate the quantitative and qualitative aspects of this research base.

Strategic Goals

A major strategic goal of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences is to build strength in the social sciences and policy analysis. Information technology and biotechnology, which are among the major sources of transformation of a modern industrialized economy, provide a powerful context for this goal. The basic strategy is to build this strength by focusing five separate efforts on the Institute's top goal.

ˇ Information Technology and Biotechnology Initiatives -- By placing a new emphasis on building strength in the social sciences and policy analysis, H&SS can play an active role in shaping Rensselaer's initiatives in biotechnology and information technology. The Performance Plan focuses five separate efforts on this first-year highest priority:

  1. Establish a Social and Behavioral Research Laboratory to serve as the focal point for an expanded research effort, in particular about the implications of information and biological technologies.
  2. Build up the Department of Economics and the Department of Philosophy, Psychology, and Cognitive Science on the conviction that economics and applied cognitive science are both areas that a technological university cannot do without.
  3. Expand the Troy Community Networking Project, several interrelated research projects led by faculty in LL&C, that will take advantage of the Social and Behavioral Research Lab.
  4. Launch the Center for Ethics and Complex Systems. A five-year agenda has been developed, positioning the Center to speak with an authoritative voice about the complex social challenges posed by IT and biotechnology.
  5. Provide new content to support IT pedagogy and research. The human-computer interface (HCI) and computer-mediated communication (CMC) are the bridge between the hardware and software, on the one hand, and human-to-human interactions and intended purposes, on the other. At the Institute level, LL&C's conceptualization of communication can broaden the intellectual base for the technical core of the IT program. In addition, a collaboration among the Academy of Electronic Media, the Arts Department, and the Minds and Machines Lab will focus on the development of Internet-based educational technologies. This activity is an asset for both IT and the new Center for Electronic Media and Performing Arts.

ˇ First-Year Experience -- A plan has been developed to transform the First Year Studies Program to provide the academic and intellectual complement to the student-life orientation of the first-year experience. The objective is to stimulate incoming students' intellectual curiosity by situating a specific subject of study within a broad and evolving global context and to provide them with an engaging exposure to the arts and humanities at Rensselaer. After having done without a director of First Year Studies for several years, this position has been reinstituted and filled.

ˇ Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center -- H&SS seeks to make significant contributions to this priority by consolidating the striking success of the EMAC and iEAR programs, creating a vibrant arts community on campus and in the Capital District, and establishing research and creative collaborations and partnerships between the Arts Department and IT, the social sciences, engineering, and architecture.

The Arts Department's goal is to become one of the five major centers worldwide for the creation and study of the electronic arts. H&SS contributes directly to a number of central goals of the Rensselaer Plan as the Department moves toward achieving this status by improving the already strong undergraduate programs and launching a new B.S. in Electronic Arts (the department is currently conducting a search for an assistant professor to teach animation), strengthening the M.F.A. program, and also deepening collaborations in IT research, the Minds and Machines Lab, and with the Academy of Electronic Media.

Through an active, ongoing collaboration with the Rensselaer Union regarding the performing arts on campus, then Arts Department contributes to an engaging student experience and an enriched campus community.

ˇ Resident Undergraduate Education -- To address the significant depletion of faculty, a number of hires are under way or planned. The STS Department currently has a search to fill one position in IT and has made a new hire in design to extend its teaching capacity, and the Arts Department has an open search in animation. New faculty positions must respond to the demands resulting from growth and a commitment to deliver on the agenda outlined in the Performance Plan.

A plan is being developed to revise the undergraduate curriculum in communication, with the conviction that it will be popular as a second area for IT majors as well as having appeal on its own. The undergraduate offerings in philosophy and literature, disciplines that are fundamental to an education in the humanities are also being revisited. A strategy for instruction in foreign languages is being developed, and Japanese is now being offered for the first time in response to high student demand. Next year an external task force will make recommendations regarding foreign language instruction.

ˇ Research and Graduate Programs -- H&SS faculty produce a great deal of scholarly and creative work. Part of the present mission is to substantially increase the funding base for research as a means of gaining greater visibility and impact for the School and the Institute. Similarly, H&SS plans to enlarge its current efforts in the education of working professionals, in the form of the distance program in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and to expand the HCI program not only within that mode but also as an important basis for on-campus research and teaching in IT.

The traditional practice has been to maintain active research and publication agendas as individual researchers and with relatively small grants or fellowships. Consequently, graduate students have been supported overwhelmingly as TAs and have mainly worked on problems of their own devising rather than being supported on their supervisors' research projects. At the present time, a substantial number of H&SS faculty have begun, or are interested in beginning, to submit research proposals for external funding. Some, depending upon their area, are interested in supporting graduate students as RAs and collaborating with colleagues in larger, externally funded projects.

Some faculty in H&SS specialize in areas that are not suited to this so-called science model, especially faculty in the humanities and the arts. Many of these faculty do apply for grants, but they are awarded directly to the individual so that the official university accounts (and the Dean's Office - and even sometimes the department chairs) are unaware of this activity. These sources include such prestigious funders as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation grants. The Dean's Office is committed to providing seed funding and other services to assist faculty in developing the capacity to successfully compete for these kinds of grants and more generally in supporting the initiatives of these faculty.

ˇ Faculty Development -- After a decade in which the size of the faculty shrank while the overall number of H&SS credit hours grew, it is necessary to invest in faculty development -- in both money and nonmonetary terms -- in order for the School to deliver on the ambitious goals laid out in the Performance Plan. New faculty positions have been targeted in areas of strategic importance: strengthening and expanding the capability in information technology and assuming responsibility for IT courses, electronic arts, economics, and applied cognitive science.

An expansion in H&SS faculty and staff will be complemented by systematic assistance to faculty throughout the school, in social science and policy analysis, the humanities, and the arts, to develop the capacity to successfully compete for research funding, improve teaching and curricular offerings in innovative ways, and tell the story of the exciting new initiatives being undertaken within the School to internal and external audiences.

ˇ Diversity -- The Rensselaer Plan calls for diversity of four kinds: intellectual, ethnic, gender, and geographic. H&SS has, at its intellectual core, a respect and enthusiasm for (not to mention tolerance of) cultural differences. This intellectual core also accounts in part for the fact that it is the School with the highest percentage of women faculty and students.

H&SS is committed to imparting to students what citizenship means, both locally and globally, and why it is valuable, through both curricular and extracurricular activities. The School also is committed to increasing the number of women and, especially, underrepresented minority faculty and students. The department chairs have been alerted to search aggressively for qualified women and minority candidates and have been informed that the Dean's Office will work with the Provost's Office to fund them. The Department of Science and Technology Studies has recently made one such hire.

The School offers an interdisciplinary, cross-departmental minor in gender, science, and technology.

ˇ Community -- Because of the value attributed to good citizenship, local as well as global, it is not surprising that faculty in several H&SS departments are actively engaged in building community.

Current research in ecological economics, supported by several new external grants, is focusing on strategies for sustainable economic development in the Hudson River basin. Undergraduates from STS and EEVP have been in the forefront of the campus greening movement at Rensselaer, which has improved institutional environmental performance, reducing the Institute's ecological impact on communities, from the local to the global. STS and EEVP graduate student projects have provided diverse positive community benefits. For example, an EEVP graduate student worked with Health Care Without Harm to create the first-ever hospital greening guide. The guide has been distributed to dozens of hospitals across the country, and has had a decided impact on hospital operations in New York City. STS and EEVP undergraduate and graduate students' latest community involvement initiative is the Green City Project, a joint venture with the Green Education and Legal Fund, Inc., which aims to develop sustainable communities in the Capital Region. Students are also participating in Troy Environmental Sciences Training Center planning, a partnership between the city, EEVP, and many other community organizations (supported by a $200,000 EPA grant), and aimed at training disadvantaged residents in environmental remediation techniques and technologies.

H&SS graduate students and faculty also serve in leadership roles at the campus radio station, WRPI, which represents an important contribution that Rensselaer makes to the surrounding communities. With a 70-mile broadcast radius, WRPI is one of the most powerful campus radio stations in the country. Dozens of community members serve as programmers and STS graduate students produce and engineer a weekly public affairs program focused on science, technology, and society issues and concerns.

Product Design and Innovation students have focused many of their design projects on community projects like the design of Troy's Farmers' Market and the design of learning tools for South Troy Elementary School students.

An initiative to foster creativity in IT education will expand the relationship between the Arts Department and the Ark, the after school program located in nearby Troy Public Housing, where many activities of the Troy Community Networking Project have originated and flourished. The School will find ways to bring new projects in Troy under a growing, common umbrella.

Community Informatics -- the interdisciplinary study of the design, uses, and consequences of information technologies at the community level -- is an IT research initiative in the STS Department that adds a new dimension to the Troy Community Networking initiative. Faculty in STS, Economics, and PP&CS are establishing a sister-city relationship between Troy and Umuluwe, Nigeria, to bring information technologies to that region and assist the local community in appropriating it for their purposes. Community Informatics also adds a new dimension to the program in Product Design and Innovation. It provides an additional channel (besides the Center for Ethics and Complex Systems) for faculty in STS to become actively engaged in Rensselaer's initiatives in IT.

The Public Service Internship, a course offered through STS for undergraduates, places students in not-for-profit settings and provides the conceptual context for this experience. The School intends to expand the visibility and enhance the quality and size of the Public Service Internship Program (current enrollment is approximately 60 per semester) and include a PSI offering in the First Year Studies course, Introduction to STS. A new director of this program has recently been appointed. Students in Product Design and Innovation take Public Service Internship as one of their core requirements.

Response to Issues Identified in the Last Review

The last review by Middle States raised two concerns about the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

It was noted that the School needed a permanent dean. As mentioned earlier, the School has had a permanent dean since 1996. At the departmental level, however, there has been an exceptionally high level of leadership turnover and flux.

According to the last review, the School faced a number of challenges in response to the "very ambitious plan to increase the majors by a factor of five." The reviewers recommended "high-level dialog with the central administration... to increase understanding of the special needs and concerns of humanities and social sciences in an institution noted for science and engineering."

The School has had some success in increasing the number of undergraduate majors, largely because of the success of EMAC and because of the substantial increase in the number of dual majors, made possible by the shift to 4x4. Since the last report, under new Institute leadership, the focus for growth has turned to research and graduate education. In some ways, this will be easier for H&SS, as this has been the traditional strength of some of the departments, for instance, the Department of Science and Technology Studies. At the same time, in this area, as with undergraduate teaching, it will be important to keep in mind the special needs and concerns of humanities and social sciences.


The vision of the Lally School of Management and Technology is to be preeminent among education institutions in integrating management and technology for innovation and value creation in the global marketplace.

All programs relate to the basic mission of the School, which is to develop technically sophisticated business leaders who are prepared to guide their organizations in the integration of technology for new products, new businesses, and new systems.

The Lally School focuses on the management opportunities and challenges associated with businesses that are driven by technology. The School is noted for the strong interdisciplinary foundation among its faculty and the sense that most innovation in and for business today occurs at the intersections of traditional disciplines.

The Lally School is located on two campuses: one department in Troy, New York, and another department in Hartford, Connecticut. Degree programs include the Bachelor of Science, the Master of Business Administration, the Executive MBA, various specialized Master of Science in management degrees, the Master of Science in Environmental Management and Policy (EMAP), and the Ph.D. in management. All programs are offered at the Troy campus, while only the MBA and specialized master's programs (including EMAP) are offered in Hartford. The Lally School also offers the Sino-U.S. MBA program in management and technology designed to train managers for U.S. joint ventures with the People's Republic of China.

The Troy Department is headed by the Dean of the Lally School, Joseph Ecker who will be replaced on July 1 by Interim Dean Robert Baron. The Hartford Department is headed by Chair David L. Rainey.

The School is ranked number 21 in the 2001 U.S. News & World Report survey of entrepreneurship programs in the United States; the magazine's 2000 survey of MBA programs ranked the Lally School number 58.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

Several significant leadership and organizational changes have occurred over the last five years. The dean appointed in July 1993 resigned in 1997 and was replaced by Joseph G. Ecker, the Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor, professor of mathematical sciences, and professor of decision sciences and systems engineering at Rensselaer. Ecker has announced his intention to return to full-time teaching and research at the end of the academic year. A national search for his successor is in progress.

In July 1996, the Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems moved into the School of Engineering, while several faculty of that department remained with the Lally School.

In December 1996, the trustees of both Rensselaer and the Hartford Graduate Center voted to transfer Hartford's assets into a corporation that Rensselaer controls. Management programs for working professionals offered on the Hartford campus are now administered by the dean in Troy. {For more details, please See RENSSELAER AT HARTFORD..}

A $7.5 million renovation of Rensselaer's historic Pittsburgh Building provided a new technology-intensive home for the Lally School in 1998. The 35,000-square-foot renovation of the 1912 building features advanced systems for high-speed computation, communication, classroom instruction, video conferencing, and distance learning.

A $5 million gift in 1999 from Rensselaer Trustee Paul Severino '69 and his wife Kathleen provided an endowment for the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship in the Lally School. The Center is now focused on ramping up entrepreneurship programs and opportunities across campus. And a new $1 million commitment from the Herman Family Foundation (announced in April 2001) will make Rensselaer the first technological university where students in all fields of study will be exposed to the principles and practices of entrepreneurship.


Since the 1995-96 academic year, 11 new faculty have been added to the Troy department, and 15 faculty have been added to the Hartford department. The faculty in the Troy and Hartford departments span disciplines of technological entrepreneurship, management information systems, marketing/new product development, finance, manufacturing management, and law/ethics and environment management.

The Lally School's planning process for the management of faculty resources is consistent with its mission statement. In short, the Lally School seeks to recruit, select, and develop a high-quality faculty that will (1) provide students with responsive and innovative instruction and curricula, (2) foster a high degree of student-faculty interaction, and (3) engage in relevant basic, applied, and instructional research, with a heavy emphasis on basic and applied research for tenure-track faculty.

The Lally School's management faculty have sufficient academic and professional qualifications to accomplish its mission. Both the number of FTE faculty that are academically qualified and the number that are either academically or professionally qualified exceed the minimum required numbers as established by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

There is a distinction between the Troy and Hartford faculty in that, at present, all faculty at Hartford are clinical faculty. A goal of The Rensselaer Plan is to make the composition of the Hartford faculty consistent with the Troy faculty, meaning that tenure-track faculty will be hired in Hartford. The Lally School has developed a five-year plan to make this happen. All of the full-time and part-time faculty at both the Hartford and Troy campuses are either academically or professionally qualified.

Intellectual contributions are widely defined to be relevant for clinical and tenure-track faculty. There is a disparity in these between the Hartford and Troy campuses as determined by the lack of tenure-track faculty at Hartford. If the Troy campus is considered alone, 70 percent of the intellectual contributions are in basic scholarship, 15 percent in applied and 15 percent in instructional contributions. In Hartford, 23 percent is basic scholarship, 54 percent is applied, and 23 percent consists of instructional contributions. These numbers have remained relatively constant for Troy, but the Hartford numbers have more emphasis now on basic scholarship.

Between 1995 and 2000, there were 711 items of intellectual contributions in Troy for 41 faculty (17.3 per faculty member) and 204 items of intellectual contributions in Hartford for 32 faculty (6.4 per faculty member). This difference will be rectified in the next few years as tenure-track faculty are hired for Hartford. The management faculty's intellectual contributions have received national recognition in a number of areas by academic peers and practitioners, particularly in the area of basic research. Our faculty has published in such top-ranked journals as the Journal of Applied Psychology, Academy of Management Journal, IEEE Transactions, Decision Sciences, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Management, Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Business Venturing, Research Policy, MIS Quarterly, Journal of Management Information Systems, and Communications of the ACM.


No new degree programs have been added since the last review. The Lally School has been participating in the new information technology degree program by providing courses for the management-related second disciplines of that degree.

All the undergraduate and graduate curricula of the Lally School provide an understanding of perspectives that form the context for business. Coverage in the undergraduate and MBA curricula includes (1) ethical and global issues, (2) the influence of political, social, legal, regulatory, environmental, and technological issues and (3) the impact of demographic diversity on organizations.

While the standard for the "general education" component of the undergraduate curriculum normally is at least 50 percent of a student's four-year program, general education courses in the B.S. in management degree comprise only 48 percent of the program. This is due to the unique focus of the Lally School that has necessitated shifting computer and technology courses, generally taught by other schools, into the Lally School.

The Lally School's specialized master's programs, as well as its master's-level environmental management and policy program, are designed for specialized roles in business, management, and related professions and have been gaining in popularity in the past four years (92 percent of 1999 full time MBA students were employed at three months after graduation). While there are some slight differences in concentrations, the MBA programs at the Troy and Hartford campuses are the same, although due to differing student populations, teaching materials and styles differ on the two campuses.


Undergraduate and graduate enrollments at the Troy and Hartford departments are given in See Undergraduate Admission and Retention., See MBA Enrollment: Troy Department., and See Enrollment: Hartford Department..


Undergraduate Admission and Retention







Applications received






Applications accepted






Students enrolled






Transfer Students






Total Students







MBA Enrollment: Troy Department







Full Time






Part Time







Enrollment: Hartford Department





MBA Part-Time




M.S. Management Part-Time




The School makes a continuous effort to achieve demographic diversity in its student enrollment.

Self-Assessment and Planning

In order to direct efforts at expanding research enterprise, the Lally faculty identified the stakeholders who will benefit from research, key measures of success, and distinctive areas in which it is believed that a national and international impact can be made.

Research activities will focus on areas in which current competencies exist either by virtue of existing resources (faculty strength, reputation, and funding support) or through the potential to create a global presence

Through its professional graduate programs, the Lally School has provided high-quality, well-integrated programs to working professionals for more than 25 years. About 64 percent of the graduate students served by the Lally School in graduate degree and nondegree programs are working professionals. Also, about 70 percent of the enrollment in the distributed educational program (PDE) is in management courses serviced by the Lally School.

Distributed education, however, is threatened by the entry of private companies into the distance MBA "business." To hold a competitive position in this marketplace, the quality of the graduate offerings must be continuously improved.

Strategic Goals

The Lally School's overarching goal is to become the global leader in the development and dissemination of knowledge in technological entrepreneurship and innovation management.

  • Enhancing Education -- The Lally School is currently ranked 58 in the 2000 U.S. News and World Report survey of MBA programs. In order to achieve its goals, the Lally School must move into the top 25 within three years. Moving into the top 25 will confer multiple benefits. The faculty recruited of the highest quality. The students will be more experienced, intelligent, and motivated. Corporate recruiters will pay more attention to Lally School graduates. The alumni will be more supportive and involved as the value of their degrees increase. Leadership in interactive learning as well as benchmarking of programs against those of the top MBA schools like Harvard will be conducted, and increased emphasis will be placed on the case approach and discussion-based Harvard model, which is entirely consistent with the themes of interactive learning.
  • As part of a long-term strategic commitment toward achieving top-tier ranking among U.S. business schools, the Lally School must engage in continuous improvement and innovation. In order to do this, faculty resources will focus on enhancing and developing the interdisciplinary professional master's, Ph.D., and distance education (in order of priority) programs with functional depth in marketing, innovation management, entrepreneurship, operations research, management information systems, and finance. This may involve capping the enrollment of undergraduate service courses (B.S. in IT, management minors, M.S. in IT, etc.) and channeling faculty resources towards improving the quality and selectivity of the full-time MBA and undergraduate programs.
  • Expanding the Research Enterprise -- In the 2001 U.S. News and World Report annual college rankings, the Lally School is nationally ranked number 21 in entrepreneurship programs. Deans of other business schools who complete the rankings have acknowledged the School's unique competence in this area, despite the small size of the faculty and programs. Other schools that are ranked higher are significantly larger, better endowed, and have a longer history in research and teaching in this area. Furthermore, publication by the faculty in top-ranked journals demonstrates talent and a continuing capacity to generate theoretically relevant and methodologically sound research.
  • Based on existing strengths and opportunities offered by the current interest in entrepreneurship, three distinct but related areas of research have been identified that can catapult the Lally School into the top 10 in entrepreneurship within the next three years. These areas, with distinct theoretical and methodological perspectives, are linked by the unique ability of Lally faculty to do interdisciplinary and collaborative research. Therefore, the School will increase and intensify the impact of faculty research, emphasizing interdisciplinary theoretical and empirical approaches, in the related areas of innovation management, technological entrepreneurship, and management of high-performance (hyper-competitive) organizations.
  • Increasing Scientific and Technological Entrepreneurship Activities -- Through the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, the Lally School forms a bridge between academic programs and entrepreneurship practice by leading entrepreneurship curriculum development; providing hands-on, practical learning opportunities for students; offering technological entrepreneurship resources to the Rensselaer community of students, faculty, alumni and affiliates; and acting as a networking hub for regional entrepreneurial activities.
  • Rensselaer has established a national reputation in the area of scientific and technological entrepreneurship. This has been accomplished by focusing new hires on this area, redirecting the emphases on funded research activities towards this area, and developing new courses that exploit faculty competencies.

Within the School of Science, the intellectual core is the discovery of general truths and the operation of general laws. As scientists, we seek to obtain knowledge of principles and causes. Rensselaer is distinguished by displaying an interdisciplinary intellectual core for scientific discovery and technological innovation, providing opportunities for advancement in new scientific fields.

The nearly 110 tenure-track faculty members within the seven departments in the School of Science contribute to the fundamental scientific discovery that is the underpinning for interdisciplinary areas. This focus is appropriate, given that the creation of knowledge and sense of intellectual excitement are increasingly found at boundaries between disciplines and that most problems of contemporary America will require interdisciplinary solutions. The Center for Studies on the Origins of Life, established at Rensselaer in 1998, is an example of the leadership role of the School of Science in interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research and education.

The School of Science contributes to Rensselaer's mission by providing leadership in nationally acclaimed undergraduate technological education, particularly in interactive learning, and focusing on developing world-class interdisciplinary graduate education and research programs in applied mathematics, advanced materials, polymer synthesis, environmental sciences, microelectronics, nanotechnology, and modeling of complex systems.

The School of Science is comprised of seven departments -- Biology; Chemistry; Computer Science; Computer and Information Science (Rensselaer at Hartford); Earth and Environmental Science; Mathematical Sciences; and Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy. The David M. Darrin'40 Fresh Water Institute, with laboratories at Lake George as well as in Troy, the Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education, the New York State Center for Polymer Synthesis, the New York Center for Studies on the Origins of Life, and the Center for Biophysics are also based in the School of Science.

Relevant External Changes/Challenges

External factors, particularly the declining interest in the more traditional disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate level and the almost exponential increase in interest in computer science and information technology, are having a significant impact on the School of Science. New programs that capitalize on Rensselaer's strength in interdisciplinary inquiry are proving popular with students looking to explore fields that span traditional boundaries.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

In 1999, Dean Doyle Daves assumed the responsibilities of acting provost, and Dr. Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer was appointed as the interim dean of Science. A search for a new dean commenced in 1999 and was completed in May 2001 with the naming of Dr. Joseph Flaherty, professor of computer science, as Dean of Science. Also in 1999, Dr. Frank Luk resigned as the department chair of Computer Science; a search for a new chair is under way.

In December 1996, the Hartford Graduate Center realigned itself with Rensselaer to become a branch campus known as Rensselaer at Hartford. The Department of Computer and Information Science at Hartford is a Hartford-based department within the School of Science. The department chair, Jim McKim, serves as a department chair in the School of Science and coordinates all academic issues with the dean of Science.

Historically, the emphasis in Hartford has been on teaching, and the faculty, while on career paths, hold clinical appointments. The main mission has been the delivery of the Master of Science in computer science in Connecticut, and via distance education to a national audience. The Hartford CIS faculty are also members of the IT faculty and took a leading role, both in the development of the M.S. in IT and in shepherding this degree through the State of Connecticut Board of Higher Education. CIS faculty expect to continue to be leaders in the ongoing development of this degree program on both campuses.


The explosive growth in computer science is remarkable -- at the undergraduate level the number of majors has gone from about 300 in 1995 to more than 600 in 2000. A similar effect is noted at the graduate level.

Also noteworthy is the number of students who are pursuing "dual" majors, i.e., satisfying the academic requirements for two degrees at the same time by strategic use of their electives. Approximately 21 percent of students in the School of Science are now pursuing dual majors, with computer science/computer engineering the most popular combination.


Named for Dr. W. W. Walker (class of 1886), the Walker Laboratory has housed the undergraduate chemistry program since its construction in 1906. An extensive two-year renovation of Walker Lab, which was completed in 1996, has incorporated 21st century innovations in the teaching of chemistry. The building now houses state-of-the-art wet labs alongside the most advanced computer and people-friendly studio classrooms.

Curriculum Review and Revision

The most recent (1995) curriculum guidelines effectively increased the number of free electives for science majors by restricting the total amount of required course work to a maximum of 40 credits in a single department, 64 credits in science, and 72 credits total in specified courses. With the simultaneous transition across the Institute from 3-credit to 4-credit courses, the total number of specified courses was reduced significantly.

Faculty in the School are currently reviewing these guidelines. While a flexible science curriculum with many electives has undoubted benefits, it may compromise the ability to formulate new, interdisciplinary curricula that require significant training in several departments. Given the opportunities for new science curricula with biology and information technology components, this is an important issue. Additionally, it is important that undergraduate students have opportunities for expanded educational experiences including intensive field experiences, undergraduate research opportunities, and foreign exchange programs.

To ensure that students have some depth in their science core, new core requirements went into effect for students entering in the fall of 2000. Students must now take at least two courses within a single area other than mathematics. For this purpose, courses in physics and astronomy are considered a single discipline, as are those in mathematics and mathematical programming, probability, and mathematical statistics. No more than one course of the science core may be taken on a pass/no credit basis. Students entering Rensselaer in their first year may transfer up to two science courses (up to 8 credit hours) toward satisfying their science core requirement.

New Degree Programs
  • Bioinformatics -- A new Bachelor of Science in Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology was approved by New York state in 1998. Existing at the intersection of computer science and molecular biology, bioinformatics is the science of storing, extracting, organizing, analyzing, interpreting, and utilizing biological information. This powerful curriculum prepares science professionals in research laboratories, hospitals, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms who will mine immense storehouses of data to secure vital information for research and product development. The undergraduate curriculum is built on existing courses in core scientific disciplines (mathematics, biochemistry, computer science, and biology) along with electives in humanities and social sciences. This core curriculum is being supplemented by four new courses: Bioinformatics I, Bioinformatics II, Drug Discovery, and Advanced Molecular Biology.
  • Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in bioinformatics and molecular biology are currently under development.
  • Multidisciplinary Science -- Research-oriented graduate degree programs leading to the M.S. and the Ph.D. in Multidisciplinary Science were approved by New York state in 2000. Rensselaer has a very strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research programs that bridge disciplines within the School of Science and between Science and Engineering. These programs capitalize on this interdisciplinary strength and place students under the tutelage of faculty from more than one discipline.
  • Biochemistry/Biophysics -- A doctoral program in biochemistry and biophysics is currently in preparation for submission to New York state. Rensselaer has identified the development of graduate research programs in biotechnology and the health sciences as important growth areas for the Institute. The proposed doctoral program in biochemistry and biophysics is a natural extension of current biochemistry and biophysics curricula at the B.S. and M.S. levels.
Major New Research Initiatives
  • Bioinformatics -- The science of storing, extracting, organizing, analyzing, interpreting, and utilizing biological information is the backbone of leading research laboratories, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies, and the driving force of biotechnology and genetic engineering. Rensselaer has made significant advances in establishing a nationally recognized program in bioinformatics.
  • A major thrust in response to priorities established in The Rensselaer Plan was initiated during the summer of 1998. Two newly hired internationally recognized experts in bioinformatics are leading the effort in bioinformatics: Dr. Michael Zuker (Department of Mathematics) and Dr. Chip Lawrence (Department of Computer Science and the Wadsworth Center of the NYS Department of Health). Professor Lawrence is an expert in Bayesian analysis and Professor Zuker in secondary RNA folding. Other key Rensselaer faculty in the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, and Computer Science bring additional expertise to this focal research area.
  • New York State Center for Polymer Synthesis -- The primary mission of the Center for Polymer Synthesis is to work closely with industry to generate new knowledge and technical capabilities in the area of materials synthesis, and to transfer those capabilities to the industrial marketplace. Center research balances applied work focused on using existing chemistry to develop new materials to meet the specific needs of a particular company or industry, with more fundamental work focused on the study of new chemical processes for the tailored synthesis of new materials with properties heretofore unattainable. A $4.5 million grant from New York state created Empire State Hall, a 16,600-square-foot facility dedicated in October 1998 that connects Rensselaer's Materials Research Center and the Cogswell Laboratory.
  • New York Center for Studies on the Origins of Life -- Funded in 1998 by NASA, the New York Center for Studies on the Origins of Life involves faculty, postdoctoral associates, graduate students, and undergraduate students from Rensselaer, the State University of New York at Albany, and the College of Saint Rose in education and research programs seeking to understand how life evolved. Some of the major research areas include sources of organics on the primitive Earth, interstellar sources, formation of the solar system, reactions during planet formation, and reduced gases in the atmosphere of the primitive Earth.
  • Center for Terahertz Electronics and Spectroscopy -- The recent development of ultra-fast technologies at Rensselaer, including the invention of the terahertz (THz) bandwidth electro-optic and magneto-optic sensor techniques, leads to new ways of seeing and understanding the world. A scientific breakthrough may soon make it possible to see images of electric fields, diseased tissue, the chemical composition of plants, and much more that is undetected by other imaging systems. With a frequency of more than a trillion cycles per second, terahertz signals occupy an extremely large portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between the infrared and microwave bands.
Self-Assessment and Planning

The School of Science's existing strengths are robust and focused on Rensselaer's mission. The School provides leadership in nationally acclaimed undergraduate technological education, through interactive learning, and has focused on developing world-class interdisciplinary graduate education and research programs in applied mathematics, advanced materials, polymer synthesis, and environmental sciences. The Rensselaer Plan also identifies existing core research strengths in microelectronics, nanotechnology, and modeling of complex systems.

The School proposes to continue to build and support initiatives in the aforementioned areas as well as aggressively pursue new initiatives in information technology and biotechnology. With the increased emphasis on interdisciplinary research, a concomitant need is the establishment of new graduate degree programs. The new M.S. and Ph.D. programs in multidisciplinary science are an example of this strategy.

Strategic Goals

The following actions will be taken over the next five years. These plans will be enacted through the Rensselaer performance planning process.

  • Constellations -- The following faculty constellations are the highest priorities for information technology and biotechnology:
  • Future Chips
  • Pervasive Computing and Distributed Intelligent Systems
  • Multiscale Computation
  • Functional Tissue Engineering
  • Integrative Systems Biology
  • Biocomputation and Bioinformatics
  • Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering

A major consideration for the proposed constellations is that they capitalize on synergies within the School of Science and School of Engineering.

ˇ Data Science -- Managing data and extracting knowledge from data are essential areas of research that will have widespread impact throughout contemporary science and engineering. In fact, several areas that Rensselaer is attempting to develop, including bioinformatics and imaging, will benefit significantly from research strength in data science. To achieve success in this area, a two-pronged approach is needed: strong research in the core technologies (analysis, management, retrieval, security, etc.) and strong research in compelling applications (bioinformatics, geoinformatics, material science, etc.). The inverse problem group and the imaging group are examples of where a very strong linkage between core technology and compelling applications has already started to develop.

ˇ Life Science Core -- Organic synthesis is an essential tool for biotechnology. The external review committee in biotechnology emphasized the importance of this area by stating that every student should take organic chemistry. This is a current strength, which will be further enhanced.

ˇ Environmental Sciences -- Rensselaer has considerable strengths in the environmental sciences, including low-temperature environmental geochemistry, microbial ecology, hydrogeology, and related fields. The research infrastructure of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute (DFWI) has been greatly enhanced during the past several years. The DFWI is now studying the prospect of broadening its emphasis to include more general environmental programs, thus laying the groundwork for strengthened interactions with researchers in sustainable development (School of H&SS) and in the area of environmental management and policy (Lally School).

ˇ Information Technology Corridor -- The key components of Rensselaer's priority of information technology -- computer science and computer engineering -- should have facilities that emphasize their importance and enhance their productivity; this becomes even more critical as the numbers of undergraduate and graduate students increase dramatically over the next few years.

An "information technology corridor" is being planned by renovating and linking the Carnegie, Amos Eaton, and Lally buildings. This facility will house faculty from the Computer Science Department, the Department of Mathematical Sciences, the computer engineering and IT programs, and some research centers. Preliminary design considerations indicate that this facility will contain a minimum of 50,000 square feet and, hence, could accommodate these programs with their anticipated growth.

ˇ First-Year Experience -- The School of Science will establish a schoolwide mentoring program for new faculty, staff, and graduate students. This will include building a list of volunteer faculty and graduate student mentors, who will, in addition to mentoring, also build an information database that will be useful for mentors and advisees alike. Such a program would be critical for junior faculty and incoming students. It is critical that departments develop and implement additional activities that serve to integrate freshmen into the departmental community as early as possible. Such activities are likely to increase retention rates as well as provide early opportunities for students to network with faculty and peers.

ˇ Minority Recruitment (Faculty, Postdocs, and Graduate Students) -- The School will take aggressive steps towards accomplishing greater diversity through increased women and minority recruitment and retention with a multipronged approach that includes targeted programs for faculty hiring, visiting faculty, and postdoctoral recruitment of highly qualified women and underrepresented minorities. Increased diversity on campus will aid in recruiting minority students to Rensselaer, as well as increasing the number of minorities in the pipeline. Increased networking with HBCUs and through outreach programs such as summer camps for minority students and K-12 programs are also an essential step for establishment of pipelines to increase diversity within the School.

ˇ Research and Scholarship in Hartford -- The Computer and Information Science (CIS) Department at Rensselaer at Hartford will continue to focus on high-quality teaching, but also will do more scholarship, leading to funded research. They also plan to engage their students in these activities more than has been possible in the past. These goals are compatible with The Rensselaer Plan's emphasis on research and graduate education, as well as on improving the academic quality of life for the working professional.

Starting in the fall of 2002, the CIS Department will establish a full-time professional M.S. in computer science program that will be international in scope with the goal of being the best of its kind. The program will be highly selective and will be limited to 25 students. {For more information, see See RENSSELAER AT HARTFORD.}.

ˇ Bioinformatics in Connecticut -- Establishing and increasing Rensselaer's presence in biotechnology, with respect to both education and research, is one of The Rensselaer Plan's highest priorities. To this end, CIS has been working with the Biology Department in Troy to bring bioinformatics programs to Connecticut. Biology faculty supply the core bioinformatics courses and CIS the supporting computer science courses. This is the first step in bringing biotech courses to the Hartford region. Seventeen students are currently registered in two bioinformatics sections now, and there is potentially a very large market for such courses and programs.

ˇ M.S. in Information Technology -- Information technology is a major initiative for the Institute. CIS will lead the way in establishing and maintaining the M.S. in IT degree, particularly when it comes to the working professional and particularly in Connecticut. Of the approximately 50 students in the inaugural (fall 2000) class, 25 are part-time, including 19 on the Troy campus and 31 through Professional and Distance Education. In addition, there has been a strong initial enrollment in this program at Rensselaer at Hartford.

Response to Issues Identified in the Last Review

In the review of the 1996 Self-Study, the following comment was made regarding the School of Science: "This method of teaching [interactive] has attracted a good deal of national attention, but it is too early to tell whether there will be many cases of adoption by other universities and whether the enthusiasm of the pioneering faculty will last for a decade or more."

Rensselaer has been continually visited (typically monthly) by representatives of universities from across the country and several international institutions and adoption of the techniques and approaches by other institutions has occurred. Most notably, MIT has begun to teach a studio version of their introductory physics course, and the department of mechanical engineering at Strathclyde (Scotland, UK) has also adopted a studio model of instruction.

The studio model of instruction, started at Rensselaer in the School of Science, is now used in a large number of Rensselaer's engineering courses. There has also been a flood of research that points to the benefits of an interactive model of teaching, of which studio is one version. The studio model of teaching has helped spur a number of other initiatives, all aimed at improving the quality and variety of teaching, to the benefit of our students.


The mission of Rensselaer at Hartford is to provide top-quality education to working professionals in response to the needs of the business community. By extending its mission beyond its regional geographic boundaries and its traditional academic offerings, Rensselaer at Hartford is committed to establishing itself as a top-tier graduate school.

Today, more than 1,800 students in southern New England are pursuing Rensselaer graduate degrees along with several thousand others who annually attend courses, seminars, and workshops offered through the Rensselaer Learning Institute (RLI), an entrepreneurial unit created in 1992 that delivers credit and nondegree professional development programs from multiple suppliers directly to corporate client sites.

Rensselaer degrees awarded to Hartford students include the Master of Science in computer science, engineering science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, management, information technology, and environmental management and policy; the Master of Engineering in computer and systems engineering; and the Master of Business Administration. Rensselaer at Hartford also offers a number of graduate certificates in computer and information sciences and engineering, as well as specialized programs such as dual master's degrees, the Weekend MBA, and an executive master's program.

Since 1971, the primary location of Rensselaer at Hartford has been 275 Windsor Street in Hartford. A satellite facility serving 225 graduate students from the Groton-New London area moved to its current home at 618 Poquonnock Road in Groton in January 2001.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

Because Rensselaer at Hartford was not discussed in the 1996 Self-Study Report, a short history of the institution is included with this report [Appendix 9].

At the time of the last review, Rensselaer at Hartford -- known then as The Hartford Graduate Center -- was a Rensselaer "affiliate" that paid a program fee for the affiliation status and degree-granting privilege. Business operations and property of the Hartford campus were administered by a separate Board of Trustees. Rensselaer's faculty and administration conducted periodic reviews of Hartford's degree programs to assure continuity and quality.

The most recent change to the Center's structure and relationship to Rensselaer began in 1994 when the Hartford Graduate Center determined that its goal of achieving growth and receiving accreditation from the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business would be advanced by a closer affiliation with Rensselaer. Hartford therefore approached Rensselaer and ultimately demonstrated that both campuses would benefit from a closer tie.

On January 1, 1997, the Hartford Graduate Center officially became the Rensselaer Hartford Graduate Center, Inc. (Rensselaer at Hartford) and became a "branch" campus. This date marked the conclusion of two years of discussion, planning, and broad constituency involvement. It also marked the start of expanded curricula for working professionals.

The chief administrative officer of the Hartford campus, its vice president, has now assumed new additional duties of the chief academic officer -- dean of Rensselaer at Hartford. In this expanded role, the vice president reports to the Rensselaer provost in academic matters, and to President Shirley Ann Jackson and the Hartford Board of Trustees for matters related to operations of the Hartford campus. This structure provides a mechanism for close coordination between the Troy and Hartford campuses and ensures that a consistent set of policies and practices exist at the two campuses.

Dr. Andrew Z. Lemnios is currently serving as interim vice president of Rensselaer at Hartford. The Hartford Board of Trustees is chaired by G.P. "Bud" Peterson, provost of Rensselaer, and comprised of the following members: Charles Carletta, secretary of the Institute and general counsel; Curtis N. Powell, vice president for Human Resources; Virginia C. Gregg, vice president for finance; and John Casidy, Jr., senior vice president, science and technology, United Technologies Research Center.

Following the change of status, the State of Connecticut Department of Higher Education conducted a site visit in August 1997. The visiting team found that Rensselaer at Hartford was in compliance with all regulations and commended the institution for its smooth transition to branch status. On September 24, 1998, a site visit was conducted by Dr. George Santiago, Jr., executive associate director of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Self-Assessment and Planning

Along with this change to branch status, Rensselaer at Hartford's faculty has begun a transition from a clinical faculty to a tenured/tenure-track faculty with the goal to achieve high profiles and world-renowned recognition and accomplishments for applied research in conjunction with corporate partners. Specific industries to be targeted are aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and finance. Emphasis will also be given to publication in recognized archival publications by faculty. {For more information, see See FACULTY GOVERNANCE AND STEWARDSHIP..}

Administrative operations in Connecticut will continue to function under the direction of its vice president and will collaborate closely with their counterparts in Troy. Reporting systems will be standardized to be in conformance with the Troy campus.

The Enrollment Management Department at Hartford has recently completed an internal process review to help attract and retain the highest quality working professionals. An external marketing evaluation is also being undertaken to provide an educational market penetration assessment in the Greater Hartford and southeastern (Groton-New London) Connecticut areas. It is a comprehensive effort to identify the graduate-level educational and training needs of key employers in these markets.

As is the case for the other portfolios, outcomes assessment and the need for a sharper methodology in evaluating outcomes has been addressed through the development of The Rensselaer Plan and implementation of the Performance Plan. These two documents, along with the performance budgeting process, provide a mechanism by which goals and strategies have been identified and against which outcomes will be assessed.

Strategic Goals

The primary emphasis in the Performance Plan for Rensselaer at Hartford is given to Hartford's only core enterprise -- education for working professionals. Bold steps are offered to enhance programs in each of the academic departments.

The Hartford Department of the Lally School of Management and Technology will introduce and grow executive-level programs concentrating on a vertical segment of the MBA market targeted to high-level working professionals.

  1. Become a preeminent business school focusing on the education of working professionals on a global basis and achieve national and international recognition in innovative teaching and learning paradigms in accelerated MBA programs for executives and senior professionals around the world.
  2. Create "centers of excellence" for enhancing the focus of MBA programs and for increasing the quality and quantity of research and scholarship.
  3. Transition the faculty from clinical faculty with low profile and limited national recognition to a tenured/tenure-track faculty with high profiles and world-renowned recognition and accomplishments.

The Department of Engineering will be consolidated with the Department of Computer and Information Sciences to create a new Department of Engineering and Science that will strengthen the combination under new leadership.

Computer and Information Sciences
  1. Enhance the level of research in computer and information sciences.
  2. Establish a bioinformatics program in Connecticut.
  3. Establish a full-time professional M.S. in computer science program in Hartford, limited to 25 enrollees, that will be international in scope and the best of its kind.
  1. After merging the Engineering and CIS departments, introduce the following new programs: (1) a dual M.S.-MBA degree program; (2) a computer and systems engineering program; (3) a decision sciences and engineering systems program directed toward professionals working in the insurance and banking industries.
  2. Develop a strategy for stronger marketing of engineering programs based on results of the marketing survey.
  3. Extend the reach of engineering programs to the global corporate community.

The Rensselaer Learning Institute (RLI) will expand to capture new corporate clients and to broaden its offerings by emphasizing more Rensselaer programs.

  1. Expand RLI offerings to technologically focused multinational organizations.
  2. Utilize technology effectively to enhance the image of Rensselaer, build relationships with key external constituencies, and provide state-of-the-art capabilities, such as online transactions.
  3. Refine or reinvent the budgetary model to focus resources for maximum impact.
  4. Expand the location and methods for delivering education programs to service national and international clients.
  5. Promote professional and executive education to alumni on leadership paths.
  6. Expand leadership effectiveness for the entire Institute.


Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

Rensselaer has led the way in creating two new strong professionally oriented degree programs in information technology (IT): the B.S. in IT and the M.S. in IT. These highly interdisciplinary programs were conceived, developed, approved, and implemented since the 1996 Self-Study Report to Middle States. The B.S. in IT was approved and registered by the New York State Higher Education Department in the summer of 1998; approval of the graduate program followed in the summer of 2000.

More than 100 Rensselaer faculty, from all five schools, and from Hartford have joint appointments to what is known as the "Faculty of Information Technology."

The key mission of the Faculty of IT is to maintain and strengthen the IT degree programs, capitalizing on the Institute's unique strength in interdisciplinary inquiry and incorporating this strength into its programs for resident undergraduate and graduate students and for working professionals.

The interim vice provost for Information Technology, Dr. Jim Napolitano, leads the administration of IT, with the assistance of a director of program development and an undergraduate program manager. The director and manager monitor student progress and implement program initiatives at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee provides academic oversight for the B.S. in IT, with representation from Rensselaer's five schools and the undergraduate student body. The M.S. in IT degree is supported by the curriculum committees of each of the five academic schools with oversight of curriculum issues by the IT Professional Master's Committee comprised of faculty from the degree specialization areas, from the Hartford campus, and from the Professional and Distance Education (PDE) program.

Enrollment in the bachelor's program is as follows: 123 freshmen, 93 sophomores, 66 juniors, and 27 seniors. There are, however, already six graduates of the program; these students had previously completed some Rensselaer course work and transferred into the program. The projected steady state of enrollment in IT is 500 total undergraduate students, including internal transfers from other Rensselaer programs and external transfers from other universities.

The official fall 2000 Registrar's statistics for graduate students in IT showed a Troy campus enrollment of 18 full-time students and nine part-time students, a PDE enrollment of 16 students, and a Hartford enrollment of an additional 14. With internal transfers from other departments, the addition of dual degree students, and new spring enrollees, these numbers have grown dramatically.

As of February 2001, the Troy campus graduate IT enrollment is 39 full-time students and 13 part-time students, with 28 PDE students and another 21 students studying at the Hartford campus, for a total of 101 students. The projected steady state of IT graduate enrollment is expected to be in the range of 150 to 200 students.


In 1997, the Key Executives group of industry advisers to Rensselaer met with faculty and administrators to begin a synergistic dialog about the industrial, research, and pedagogical needs in information technology. The participants agreed that there was a large and unmet demand for employees with strong technical backgrounds combined with an understanding of how to apply technology to a variety of fields. It was also obvious that there were not enough current graduates of computer science, and electrical and computer systems engineering to meet that demand, even if their curricula were altered to accommodate the new direction. Rensselaer responded to this global need by forming a committee to study and develop educational programs in IT.

The Information Technology Degree Committee's work resulted in the development of the B.S. in IT degree in 1998. On retreat that summer, the Faculty of IT accomplished the final preparations for the first B.S. students and discussed the need for M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in IT. The first class of M.S. in IT students enrolled in fall 2000; the class included students in Troy, Hartford, and via Professional and Distance Education. The Ph.D. is still under discussion.

Undergraduate Program

The objective of the B.S. in IT is to prepare students to enter a rewarding career in IT and also to be well prepared to pursue graduate education in a disciplinary field upon graduation. The B.S. degree is distinguished by its rigorous high-tech curriculum, its emphasis on real-world applications and interactive learning, and Rensselaer's thriving atmosphere for technological entrepreneurship.

The program is designed for technically focused students and those having substantial technical aptitude but who also have other interests. It synthesizes computing, systems, management, social sciences, and humanities, and seeks to extend a student's horizons from the focused core of IT to the disciplinary knowledge of an application domain (a student-chosen second discipline). The program also promotes the integration of traditional education with the spirit of entrepreneurship that characterizes IT.

The program consists of 128 credit hours, of which 56 credit hours constitute the IT Core, 32 credit hours constitute a second discipline, and the remaining credit hours fulfill Rensselaer common degree requirements. The IT Core requirements establish a solid foundation for the application of IT to other disciplines. The common Rensselaer requirements ensure the breadth of the degree and that it is consistent with the long-established traditions of a Rensselaer degree. The required second discipline provides an opportunity for in-depth study of an IT application area.

The B.S. degree offers a wide choice of second disciplines from all five academic schools. Currently, the most popular second disciplines are management information systems and finance (School of Management), arts and communication (School of Humanities and Social Sciences) and networking (School of Engineering). With faculty advisement, students may also select their own courses to fulfill second discipline requirements and explore their own interests.

Master's Program

The Faculty of IT offers an innovative multidisciplinary program leading to the Master of Science degree in Information Technology. The primary intent of the program is to prepare students for professional practice in information technology. However, as a result of their interaction with Rensselaer faculty who are conducting leading-edge IT research, it is also expected that a subset of IT master's students will continue on for a Ph.D. in IT or related fields.

The goal for Rensselaer's IT graduates is to have a breadth of experience in database systems, telecommunications, software design, management of technology, and human-computer interaction (the IT Core), as well as an in-depth experience in the application of information technology.

The application areas currently approved by the IT Professional Master's Committee are database systems design, decision sciences, software design, human-computer interaction, networking, management information systems, information systems engineering, e-business, and bioinformatics.

Outcomes Assessment

Given IT's mission to prepare students for rewarding careers in IT, two of the primary outcome measures will be the placement rate and salary ranges of graduates as reported by the Career Development Center, plus an internal survey of student satisfaction conducted by the IT administrators. Additional measures of student satisfaction will include the results of the Institutewide Senior Survey prepared by the Enrollment Management Office. The Provost's Office faculty evaluation survey (IDEA) will add to the assessment of teaching quality. Additional internal assessment is provided via the regular meetings of the existing Undergraduate and Graduate IT Curriculum Committees, by feedback from the IT Advisory Council of key executives, and by the annual Rensselaer Performance Plan process. Student enrollment numbers for second disciplines and application areas will inform decisions to add new areas, improve existing areas, and delete undersubscribed areas.

Also as part of outcomes assessment, undergraduates in the IT degree program are encouraged to be very active in their education. A student leadership organization that is run completely by undergraduate students who are very involved in activities relating to recruitment, job placement, curriculum issues, student mentoring, and other ad-hoc activities is currently in place. This group has played a key role in several functions sponsored by Rensselaer, including the NSBE/SHPE Career Fair, Careers in IT Forums, Admissions Days, and Design Your Future Day - a program for high school females. Members of the student leadership organization created an IT Honor Society for IT, the first information technology honor society in the nation. Funding for a similar graduate level student leadership organization is included in the current budget.

Self-Assessment and Planning

On March 1, 2001, President Jackson announced the upcoming changes in IT's administrative structure. The principal responsibility for the maintenance of academic quality as well as fiscal responsibility will transition from the Provost's Office to the dean of Science. The interdisciplinary nature of the IT program will be maintained by an advisory committee to the provost comprised of associate deans from each of the five academic schools. The committee will have the responsibility for development and coordination of the interdisciplinary IT core and associated curricular recommendations.



The Office of Professional and Distance Education (PDE) works with all of the academic and support units at Rensselaer to provide high-quality education to working professionals wherever they happen to be. The vision is for Rensselaer to assert leadership in the critical area of distributed programs for working professionals and, in so doing, to be among those universities that define excellence in that sphere and thus have considerable impact in the global arena.

The primary mission is to extend Rensselaer's research and education beyond its physical campuses to meet the career-long learning needs of working professionals. PDE programs showcase Rensselaer's academic strengths, and refresh/redirect the intellectual vitality of individuals and their organizations.

PDE currently administers four different programs targeted toward working professionals. These include RSVP, Rensselaer's distance learning program; the Navy Program; and the KAPL On-site Program. Brief descriptions are provided below. In addition, PDE generally offers three to five noncredit Short Course programs per year from the Troy campus. Typical courses have included New Directions in Bioinformatics and Biotechnology, Colloid Chemistry Applied to Industrial R&D, Modern Developments in Multiphase Flow and Heat Transfer, and Chemical Mechanical Planarization. Short courses are generally offered in a face-to-face mode on the Troy campus, but can be made available via distance technology.

PDE students in the RSVP, Navy, and KAPL programs are required to meet the same admissions requirements as those stated for on-campus students. All degrees and certificates available via distance learning are the same as those available to on-campus students, and the degree notation on a distance student's diploma is indistinguishable from that of a campus student. Faculty from the appropriate academic units are responsible for the development, delivery, and oversight of all distance programs. [For more information and a list of PDE courses and degrees, please see Appendix 10.]

Rensselaer has received several awards for its technology-delivered activities, including "Best Corporate Partnership - Higher Education" (with General Motors) from the United States Distance Learning Association in 1996.

Throughout much of its history, PDE has had joint activities with Rensselaer at Hartford, and in 1995, the distance learning capabilities of the two organizations were linked, enabling course sharing and joint offerings to remote students.

Since January 1999, the organization has been led by Professor William Jennings in the newly created position of vice provost for Professional and Distance Education.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

What is now known as the Office of Professional and Distance Education was formally established in 1987 as the Office of Continuing Education to develop and support Rensselaer's newly launched initiative in technology-delivered education -- the Rensselaer Satellite Video Program (RSVP). Although Rensselaer was certainly not the first university to become engaged in distance delivery of its programs, it was one of the early pioneers in this enterprise and has carved out a significant national reputation in its nearly 13 years of delivering programs to remote students.


In its initial semester, the RSVP program offered one uniquely designed interdisciplinary master's degree to 60 students at five IBM locations. By 1996, the time of the last Middle States report, the program offered eight full master's degrees and reached more than 700 students at more that 40 industrial locations each semester. Approximately 40 video courses per year were delivered via distance learning technology to some of the nation's leading corporations.

Today, RSVP enrolls more than 1,000 distance students in more than 75 courses per year offered from both the Troy and Hartford campuses. Most RSVP students come from the more than 30 site locations operated by RSVP's corporate and government partners. RSVP's current list of partners includes Boeing, Consolidated Edison, Delphi Automotive Systems, Department of Defense, Ford Motor Company, General Dynamics, General Electric, General Motors, IBM, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Lucent Technologies, United Technologies Corporation, Visteon, Xerox, and several other smaller companies. An increasing number of students are individuals participating from work or home, but not affiliated with a particular corporate or government partner.

There are currently 13 full master's degrees and 21 graduate certificate programs available via distance in engineering, management, humanities and social sciences, and science. RSVP delivers its programs via satellite broadcasts, interactive videoconferencing, mailed videotapes, and the Internet. To date, more than 1,000 students have received graduate degrees from Rensselaer via RSVP.

Navy Program

In 1997, PDE began a program designed to provide the sophomore-, junior-, and senior-level courses for a bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering to officers stationed at the Navy Nuclear Prototyping facility in West Milton, New York, approximately 40 miles northwest of the Troy campus. Navy officers who come to West Milton have just completed a training program at the Navy Nuclear Power Training School, which gives them the equivalent of one year toward an undergraduate engineering degree.

To accommodate the work schedules of these officers, PDE and the School of Engineering have established a classroom facility, close to the Navy site, in Malta, New York, where Rensselaer faculty teach courses on a schedule designed to accommodate the rotating shift schedules of the Navy students. There are currently 30 students enrolled in the Navy Program who are eligible to complete a B.S. degree in nuclear engineering, engineering physics, or engineering science. To date, 25 students have completed their B.S. degree through this program.

KAPL On-Site Program

Also in 1997, PDE began a fully on-site program that provides full master's degree programs in computational mechanics and materials science and engineering to employees at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL). Rensselaer faculty teach all of the courses needed for each degree program at the KAPL facility. There are approximately 30 students enrolled in these programs currently.

Self-Assessment and Planning

PDE developed a Strategic Plan for its activities to support the goals, commitments, and first year-priorities of The Rensselaer Plan. An "applied strategic planning process" was used, with a significant emphasis on background research. An external analysis included a close look at competitor and "best-practice" institutions in order to benchmark activities in professional and distance education, a survey of current corporate customers to determine their views of existing strengths and weaknesses, and an overview of current market opportunities. An internal analysis included interviews conducted by an outside consultant with more than 90 individuals in 35 interviews across the Troy and Hartford campuses to seek broad input from the Rensselaer community regarding the role and importance of activities in professional and distance education at Rensselaer.

Strategic Goals

Based on the vision and mission described, the tenets of The Rensselaer Plan that can most effectively be supported, and the SWOT analysis, five strategic goals have been articulated to guide the activities of the unified "Education for Working Professionals" (EWP) enterprise. These also reflect the goals of the strategic plan of the Office of Professional and Distance Education. It should be noted that these goals are meant not only to suggest new directions, but also to guide current activities.

  1. Rensselaer's distributed education programs for working professionals will be recognized as preeminent among technological research universities; distinguished by unique, high-end interdisciplinary programs for current and potential executives and technical leaders; and for a signature intellectual core in interactive distributed learning.
  2. Education for working professionals will become a core enterprise of the Institute, while remaining competitive in the marketplace, and will be a significant contributor to the goals of The Rensselaer Plan.
  3. Rensselaer will create an Institutewide organizational structure that will provide coherent leadership and focus for all activities in the EWP enterprise, and a common face to those who turn to Rensselaer for their career-long learning needs.
  4. Rensselaer will significantly expand the existing base of its EWP activities to support the vision of a "Distributed Rensselaer."
  5. Rensselaer will pursue external partnerships and alliances that will enhance its status as a leading provider of distributed education programs for working professionals with global impact.



Enrollment Management serves as the gateway for prospective students, their families, teachers, professors, and counselors in the exploration of the educational programs Rensselaer offers to people at a variety of stages of life. Enrollment Management provides responsive, friendly, and professional service to the members of the internal and external community of Rensselaer who assist with the identification and invitation of superior and diverse students. The experience prospective students have with any member of the recruitment staff will impact decisions they make regarding their future at Rensselaer.

The overarching goal of Enrollment Management is to identify, invite, and enroll students who seek out the Institute for its mission of education for leadership in technologically based careers.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

Last year, the enrollment management function was moved from the Student Life Division to the Office of the Provost. This transition was made to take advantage of synergies in the academic community and to strengthen academic relationships. Additionally, both undergraduate and graduate admissions have now been integrated in one location. Enrollment Management also includes recruitment activities at Rensselaer at Hartford. Undergraduate students are recruited and accepted by the admissions office, while admissions decisions for students applying to Rensselaer's graduate school are made by the departments and schools, with admissions personnel working in a facilitative role.

Undergraduate Enrollment

As The Rensselaer Plan states, "excellence in undergraduate education requires constant improvements in the quality of programs, and the makeup of the student body." The Plan delineates specific goals that affect Enrollment Management, including setting the undergraduate population at 5,000 students, improving selectivity, and seeking diversity in its broadest definition - intellectual, geographic, ethnic, and gender.

To achieve these goals, Enrollment Management handles more than 28,000 inquiries per year and processes more than 5,500 applications. Rensselaer has shown consistent improvements in every measure of first-year students from fall 1995 through fall 2000. {See also See ENROLLMENT TRENDS AND PROJECTIONS..} In summary:

  • Applications have increased by 21 percent.
  • Selectivity has improved from 84.7 percent to 73.2 percent.
  • Yield has improved from 25.0 percent to 32.5 percent.
  • The number and percentage of women has increased.
  • The number and percentage of underrepresented minorities has increased.
  • Average SAT has increased from 1265 to 1282.

Rensselaer continues to use a decision model developed in the early 1990s that offers guidance in financial aid packaging, given student quality and revenue goals. This model has helped achieve the success noted above, while at the same time allowing us to reduce the freshman discount rate (unrestricted financial aid returned to students). Goals for fall 2001 are to continue improvements in the freshman class, including attaining an average SAT of 1290, selectivity of 69 percent, and a discount rate of 41 percent, while also improving student diversity.

Improvements in freshmen selectivity, yield, and quality have resulted in a university of undergraduates who thrive in the environment Rensselaer offers. This has led directly to improved retention and graduation rates. Fall-to-fall freshman retention has increased from 90.3 percent in fall 1995 to 92.1 percent in fall 2000. In addition, Rensselaer's six-year undergraduate graduation rate has increased significantly, up from 68.1 percent for the fall 1989 cohort (measured in 1995) to 75.2 percent for the fall 1994 cohort (measured in 2000). It is anticipated that strong demand for Rensselaer graduates will continue to improve retention and graduation rates.

Graduate Enrollment

Dramatic growth in research requires an equally dramatic expansion in inquiry-based graduate programs leading to research-based master's and doctoral degrees. In addition, programs for working professionals allow universities to transfer research results and innovations directly into the workplace and address the lifelong learning needs of the populace in those workplaces.

Rensselaer has begun the restructuring necessary to develop a highly effective graduate student recruitment program and establish a single focal point for an Institutewide enrollment policy. In addition, an external study has been commissioned to determine a strategic and competitive tuition pricing policy for all graduate programs. The study will provide a price analysis of a market basket of technological universities (Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Stanford, and Cal Tech), and recommendations for new pricing policies among resident, distance, and Hartford programs.

In many ways, growth in traditional graduate enrollment will be dependent on the successful development of leading-edge research fields, combined with a shift in demographics and a change in national policy. Demographic projections indicate graduate enrollment increases beginning in 2004. By focusing on research investment and a strategic pricing position, Rensselaer will be in position to lead the nation in the recruitment, enrollment, and retention of the researchers and academicians of the 21st century.

On average, the top 25 graduate schools of engineering experienced annual enrollment declines of slightly more than 2 percent from 1993 through 1997. However, more recent data indicate the numbers may be stabilizing and even some slight growth trends may be emerging beginning in fall 1999. As the trend data indicate, while graduate enrollment at Rensselaer in fall 2000 is down 7.9 percent from fall 1995, it grew 4 percent from fall 1999 to fall 2000 {see See ENROLLMENT TRENDS AND PROJECTIONS.}.

To achieve the Rensselaer Plan goal of doubling Ph.D. degrees awarded over the next eight to ten years, enrollment is forecasted to grow from 1,878 in fall 2000 to 2,186 in fall 2005. New research facilities and initiatives, combined with a strong enrollment management program of relationship building, orientation, and support will help Rensselaer achieve this goal.

Distance Learning

Distance learning at Rensselaer involves a variety of delivery technologies. Rensselaer uses these modes to bring graduate courses, certificates, degree programs, and noncredit seminars and workshops to working professionals who pursue graduate education while remaining fully employed at their work locations. Because of its reputation, respected faculty, leading-edge research, and dedication to quality, Rensselaer's distance education program can be a valuable resource to corporations and their employees. Enrollment in distance programs is forecasted to grow over the next few years, mostly as a result of new joint-degree and certificate programs, greater participation of students in the information technology program, and new individual students participating in online programs.

Rensselaer at Hartford

Rensselaer at Hartford has engaged the services of a marketing research consultant to conduct a comprehensive analysis of opportunities in the Hartford and southeastern Connecticut markets. This research will utilize both qualitative and quantitative approaches to ascertain Rensselaer's competitive position and determine emerging markets. The study will be complete in the spring of 2001. However, it is clear historically that Rensselaer at Hartford has played a key role in the education of the working professional for more than 45 years.

The challenge now is to stay at the leading edge of innovation in a diverse marketplace composed of information technology, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, entrepreneurial, and other business entities. Divergent offerings for divergent markets need to be managed to ensure excellence in all discipline areas, while still focusing on key strengths and quality, and remaining nimble and agile in response to market demands.

Strategic Goals
  1. Targeted relationship building

Develop undergraduate and graduate pipeline programs.

Create message and image clarity and expand all outreach to focus on IT, biotechnology, and the performing arts center.

Develop focused, targeted outreach programs to students, faculty, parents, and schools.

Create and/or improve Rensselaer departmental connectivity to build on undergraduate recruitment successes at the graduate level.

Showcase campus and its people.

Help establish a national agenda/outreach effort to build the Rensselaer name.

  1. Technology Enhancement

Create seamless entry points for students.

Continue the undergraduate Web development activities and create a Web presence for graduate programs.

Create the methods with which to ensure a seamless message to prospective students.

Capitalize on and leverage available operational efficiencies.

  1. Enrollment Processing Efficiencies

Coordinate graduate tuition pricing study.

Develop enrollment cohort recommendations.

Further leverage undergraduate aid investment.

Establish the procedures to market, award, and leverage Institutewide (nondepartmental based) graduate funding.

Create regular surveys, trend analyses.

Create a welcoming, professional, state-of-the-art gateway to enrollment.

  1. Investment and Reorganization

Assess the technology investment required to match the best-in-class in image, delivery, and connection to students.

Establish a routine method of creating and updating print communications and image creation.

Develop response to increased system use/development/maintenance needs.

Model new outreach and recruitment methods with campus.

Respond to staffing changes and process reengineering efforts.

Response to Issues Identified in the Last Review

The report prepared by the Middle States Evaluating Team in 1996 contained the following observations:

"The admissions process admits an unusually high percentage of the applicants, and results in a low yield. Efforts should be made in the recruiting process to make the opportunities available at RPI to potential students more broadly known. Follow-up by faculty, students, and alumni encouraging admitted students to attend RPI could increase the yield. It appears that there is a new emphasis which moves more financial aid into the area of merit, which raises the question of the ability of the institution to improve the diversity of the student body, given the traditional financial aid requirements of this group of students."

Rensselaer has addressed each of these issues and has experienced improvements in each area. Since the last Middle States report, the number of applicants to Rensselaer has increased significantly while the selectivity (percent of applicants accepted) has improved markedly. From fall 1995 to fall 2000 the number of applicants for undergraduate study increased over 20 percent, from 4,543 to 5,479, while the selectivity ratio improved from 85 percent to 73 percent. Selectivity is forecasted to further improve in fall 2001 to 69 percent of more than 5,500 applicants. Concurrently, yield (percent of accepted students who enroll) increased from 25 percent in fall 1995 to 33 percent in fall 2000.

The admissions process is "need-blind" (financial need is not a factor in making admissions decisions). At the same time, Rensselaer recognizes that financial aid is a factor in a student's decision to enroll and, while competition has forced a more aggressive position in awarding aid (especially scholarship), strategic use of financial aid has also been a significant factor in achieving the Institute's student quality, revenue, and diversity goals.



The mission of the Office of Institute Diversity is to lead, coordinate, and promote campuswide diversity initiatives in order to maximize human and financial resources and create respectful working and learning environments that foster collaboration and community building.

The vision is to create a welcoming, productive, and respectful environment for all Rensselaer constituents. In order to be a top-tier world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact, Rensselaer must value diversity as a competitive advantage. As higher education becomes increasingly multicultural, Rensselaer must embrace the complexities of diversity and reflect within its own community the diversity of the society it serves and the richness inherent in a wide range of perspectives and attitudes. Diversity, on all fronts, must be seamless and woven into the very fabric of the Rensselaer community.

Changes and Progress Since the Last Review

Significant changes have occurred over the past five years in the Office of Institute Diversity.

In August 1998, a diversity review report was presented to the President's Cabinet and Deans' Council with a set of specific recommendations. These recommendations included the relocation of Institute Diversity from Human Resources to the Office of the Provost, the establishment of an assistant provost for Institute Diversity, and the formation of a Diversity Advisory Board. The recommendations were designed to increase the effectiveness of the Office of Institute Diversity by strategically placing it within the academic structure, where diversity initiatives would be closely aligned to the intellectual life and culture of the university. All of these recommendations have been adopted within the last two years.

Institute Diversity has been instrumental in key operations that address diversity at large. Some highlights are:

  • Establishment of Partners for Equity and Excellence in Recruitment and Retention (PEERR), a five-person faculty team created to assist in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority and women faculty.
  • Ongoing diversity seminars provided by external and internal facilitators since 1999 for faculty, students, and staff to promote understanding and create solutions for a more inclusive campus environment.
  • Family Technology Awareness Day, held annually since 1999 during Black Family Technology Awareness Week, a national movement to promote awareness among African American families and others historically underrepresented in the fields of science and technology.
  • Garnet D. Baltimore Lecture Series, an annual event since 1991 established in honor of Rensselaer's first African American graduate. In 1997, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, now Rensselaer's 18th president, was the guest speaker.
  • Design and development of a new diversity brochure that captures the spirit of The Rensselaer Plan and emphasizes its global impact.

The Office of Institute Diversity continues to work closely with the Human Resources Division (where the Institute's Affirmative Action program is administered), and with Enrollment Management.

Self-Assessment and Planning

Institute Diversity and the Diversity Advisory Board have identified four initiatives with which to promote diversity at Rensselaer. They are:

  • Recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority and women faculty
  • Recruitment and retention of undergraduate minority and women students
  • Graduate student programs for underrepresented minorities and women
  • A campuswide diversity communication plan

These initiatives work in concert with the overarching diversity goal set forth in The Rensselaer Plan, namely to achieve true intellectual, geographic, gender, and ethnic diversity in the students, faculty, and staff in order to draw upon the best talent available, and to prepare students to work and lead in a global economy.

Strategic Goals
  1. Recruitment and retention of tenure-track underrepresented minority and women faculty -- In order to benefit from the creative energy and competitive advantage arising from a multifaceted, intellectually and socially diverse talent pool, Rensselaer must be committed to expanding its community of scholars to include groups that have not been adequately represented in the past. The aim is to increase the number of newly hired tenure-track underrepresented minority faculty from 3.6 percent to 10 percent and female faculty from 15.2 percent to 33 percent over a five-year period.
  2. Aggressively recruit underrepresented minority and women faculty.
  3. Build faculty alliances through Partners for Equity and Excellence in Recruitment & Retention (PEERR) and the Provost's Office.
  4. Establish personal contact with other universities to accelerate the identification of excellent candidates.
  5. Access targeted databases to identify underrepresented minority and women faculty candidates.
  6. Develop a retention plan and mentoring program for all junior faculty.
  7. Enhance campus discussions regarding the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority and women faculty.
  8. Recruitment and retention of undergraduate and graduate underrepresented minority and female students -- The latest research shows that diversity is a key component of educational excellence and that greater diversity leads to higher student retention, increased grade point averages, improved college satisfaction, and enhanced intellectual and social self-confidence. The aim is to increase the number of undergraduate underrepresented minority students from 10 percent to 15 percent and female students from 26 percent to 35 percent over the next five years.
  9. Strengthen established articulation agreements with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and establish new links with Tribal Institutions.
  10. Develop relationships with other universities to recruit the best and brightest underrepresented minority and female students.
  11. Establish and maintain in-depth relationships with strategically selected high schools and community colleges.
  12. Promote professional growth among the university's minority and female graduate students as well as strategies to empower, promote, and retain them.
  13. Include mentoring and other contributions to all students in faculty performance evaluations.
  14. Campuswide diversity communication plan -- An environment that embraces and celebrates diversity will gain greater awareness and knowledge of intergroup relations, cross-cultural and gender awareness, and conflict resolution.
  15. Establish a state-of-the-art International Center (Center for Global Citizenship).
  16. Create a subcommittee within the Diversity Advisory Board to assess the campus climate for diversity.
  17. Continue Diversity Seminars for faculty, students, and staff.
  18. Continue to bring outstanding lecturers to campus for the Garnet Baltimore Lecture Series.
  19. Create coaching teams for faculty, students, and staff to keep diversity initiatives alive.
  20. Facilitate productive, goal-oriented discussion and project groups among the Rensselaer community on issues relating to diversity.
  21. Address the dynamics of race and gender equity throughout the university.
  22. Collaborate with Human Resources and the Dean of Students Office to provide sexual harassment counseling and training for faculty, students, and staff.
  23. Provide opportunities for faculty, students, and staff that promote inter-group communication and cross-cultural experiences.
  24. Build diversity training, as appropriate, into curricula.



As of May 2001, the faculty at Rensselaer numbers 338 tenured or tenure-track positions (of which 259 are now tenured) and 45 nontenure-track positions. Aggressive recruiting keyed to the goals of The Rensselaer Plan aims to add another 16 new faculty lines in the coming academic year.

The mission and composition of the faculty on the two campuses (Troy and Hartford) differ significantly, with Hartford having almost exclusively nontenure-track teaching faculty and Troy having a high percentage of tenured or tenure-track faculty supplemented by nontenure-track faculty in teaching or research positions. The integration of the two campuses, which has occurred since the last review, and the integration of nontenure-track faculty into the current system of governance remains problematic. {For more information, see See RENSSELAER AT HARTFORD..}


The Faculty Senate is the representative body of the faculty and serves in an advisory role to the administration and the Board of Trustees on issues affecting the common purposes of the Institute. It meets biweekly during the academic year and holds two General Faculty Meetings, one each semester.

The Senate is composed of an Executive Committee, senators, and chairs of the standing committees of the Senate. The Executive Committee comprises six members elected at-large with a presidential line and a secretarial line. Each year a vice president and a recording secretary are elected to serve three-year terms. The vice president becomes president in the second year of the term and chair of the faculty during the third year. Similarly, the recording secretary subsequently becomes secretary in the second year and secretary of the faculty in the third. This provides continuity in the leadership positions. The president of the Senate bears primary responsibility for leading Senate activities with the guidance of the Executive Committee.

Senators are elected from several different constituencies to two-year terms. Each school at the Troy campus and Rensselaer at Hartford has one representative (6 senators); six senators are elected at-large. One of the at-large positions has often been held by an emeritus faculty member. Half of the Senators turn over from one year to the next.

The standing committees of the Senate include the Curriculum Committee, Promotion and Tenure Committee, Planning and Resources Committee, and the Elections Committee. All committee members are elected, with two at-large representatives and each school having a single representative. Committee members serve for three years and elections of new members are staggered over the three-year interval. The committee chairs become voting members of the Senate and are appointed by the Executive Committee with input from the committee members.

The provost serves as an ex-officio member of the Senate and attends Senate meetings. The president's chief of staff regularly attends Senate meetings, as does the secretary of the Institute.

Representation of nontenure-track faculty on the Faculty Senate is an issue the Senate has struggled with over the past few years. By historical precedent, when the Faculty Senate evolved from the Faculty Council in 1993-94, research faculty were considered fully enfranchised members of the faculty. However, no other nontenure lines of faculty (instructor, adjunct) were included. In 1995-96 a nontenure teaching line was added to the faculty composition. The merger with Hartford, where essentially all faculty are in nontenure-track positions, has exacerbated the situation because the issue now involves both representation of a nontenured group and a question of representation by a faculty at a different location. Several constitutional amendments have been proposed to try to resolve the issues of representation.

One of these amendments passed this year, allowing the faculty at Hartford to elect, from their own faculty, a representative to the Faculty Senate for a two-year term. This member of the Senate has voting rights within the Senate (which thus increases the number of Senators from 12 to 13). A comparable amendment to provide a Senate seat exclusively for clinical faculty from Troy was defeated, as was an amendment that would enfranchise all clinical faculty.


Rensselaer is undergoing significant change with the new administration of President Jackson. Faculty Senate members were on the search committee for the president and part of the broad group of campus members who interviewed candidates for the position. This situation was repeated in the search and interview process for the provost. Senate members have been on the search committee for the new vice president for human resources and among the on-campus interview team for the vice president for research and the vice president for administration. This level of input is welcomed and refreshingly different from previous upper-level administrative searches.

During the development of The Rensselaer Plan, Senate members played prominent roles and the Senate, coordinated by the Planning and Resources Committee, provided critiques of early drafts of the Plan. At the performance planning stage, again coordinated by the Planning and Resources Committee, the Senate critiqued the Performance Plan for each individual academic unit and has been responsible for greater sharing of information during the development process (urging posting of draft and final plans on internal Web sites).

The Faculty Senate committees have provided significant service to the Institute and the Faculty. The Planning and Resources (P&R) Committee has been heavily involved in overseeing faculty needs and providing input into development of The Rensselaer Plan and the Performance Plans. Previously, this committee had a less well-defined mission. The P&R Committee will be asked to take on new responsibilities by developing and studying faculty resource issues as we begin fulfilling the goals of The Rensselaer Plan. They are charged with looking at the impact of new programs or the demise of programs that are considered less important in the new climate at Rensselaer.

The Promotion and Tenure (P&T) Committee is a strong committee and, on the average, looks at eight to 15 cases on a yearly basis. The Rensselaer Plan calls for a renewed emphasis on research, faculty renewal and redistribution, and a step up in the expectations for promotion and tenure. The Senate expects P&T Committee members to be strong advocates for the faculty during these discussions and changes from the previous atmosphere in which teaching and pedagogical innovation took on increased importance.

The Curriculum Committee has shepherded the thousand or more changes that were involved in converting the campus instructional system to a 4x4 template in which students typically take four, four-credit courses a semester. All schools comply with this format for the first two years of undergraduate study and most comply for all four years of study. New programs in the schools of Architecture, Science, and Humanities and Social Sciences have been approved and both the B.S. and M.S. in Information Technology have been studied and approved in the past five years.

The Curriculum Committee and the P&R Committee studied the pedagogical and resource implications of requiring all incoming students to purchase a laptop computer. Both of these programs (4x4 and laptop) have been in place for at least two years and are being evaluated by the current Curriculum Committee to assess their impact on teaching and learning and the overall campus culture.

The Senate vice president chairs the Election Committee. This committee develops a slate of candidates and runs the election. They recently developed a computerized ballot and early assessment showed an increase in faculty participation.

All committees make periodic reports to the full Senate and bring appropriate issues to the Senate for timely deliberation by the full body.

The Senate, through the Executive Committee, is routinely asked to provide faculty for both standing Institute committees (Student Judiciary, Parking, Honors, etc.) and ad-hoc committees. While the Faculty Senate serves in only an advisory capacity in representing the faculty to the administration, their advice and counsel are not taken lightly. The Rensselaer Plan is an ambitious plan that requires faculty buy-in and participation. The role of the Faculty Senate in helping Rensselaer achieve its goals should increase in the next few years, while at the same time the Senate should develop its own agenda and perform evaluations and critiques of ongoing plans.

In addition to the issues described above, the Faculty Senate has been involved in the following projects:

  • development of a new weekly schedule for classes
  • establishing/reviewing guidelines for review of administrators (deans and department chairs)
  • reviewing a new academic calendar
  • redefining the role of the Planning and Resources Committee
  • discussion of Institute Diversity Plans and diversity training
  • review of course evaluation (IDEA) forms and data



1. The Portfolios:

Schools: School of Architecture, School of Engineering, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lally School of Management and Technology, School of Science, Rensselaer at Hartford

Academic Functions: Undergraduate Education, Graduate Education, Education for Working Professionals, Enrollment Management, Faculty of Information Technology.

Vice Presidential Divisions: Information Technology Infrastructure and Services, Research (including interdisciplinary centers and activities). Student Life, Administration, Advancement, Finance, Government and Community Relations, Human Resources, Economic Development and Technological Entrepreneurship.

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