|Roland and Claire Schmitt: Leaving a Legacy Through Endowment Giving
We are pleased to highlight the many important contributions made over the years by Roland Schmitt, 16th president of Rensselaer, and his wife, Claire. Roland and Claire are dedicated and active donors who have established three endowed funds: the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professorship; the Claire K. Schmitt Fund for Campus Beautification; and the Claire and Roland Schmitt Scholarship.
Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professorship
For over a quarter of a century, Rensselaer’s Boleslaw Szymanski has occupied a place at the cutting-edge of computer science, systems, and networks. In recognition of his accomplishments, Szymanski was appointed the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor of Computer Science in 2007. “I came because the opportunities for interdisciplinary research and the work were so exciting here,” Szymanski said. “There were so many new challenges — new problems and new solutions.”
In 2009, Szymanski was selected to head the Center for Social and Cognitive Networks, part of the newly created Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), which includes a total of four nationwide centers focused on different aspects of the emerging field of network science.
“Rensselaer offers a unique research environment to lead this important new network science center,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “The Center for Social and Cognitive Networks will bring together our world-class scientists in the areas of computer science, cognitive science, physics, Web science, and mathematics in an unprecedented collaboration to investigate all aspects of the ever-changing and global social climate of today.”
The Claire K. Schmitt Fund for Campus Beautification
As faculty and students return to the Troy campus for the new academic year, Scott Litwin and his staff start to prepare for the next Commencement in May. From September to November, the groundskeepers tend to beds full of New England asters, “autumn joy” sedum, rudbeckia, ornamental grasses, and other blossoming fall perennials. The team also removes fallen leaves from the lawns and flowerbeds, and plants a plethora of spring-flowering bulbs timed to bloom during Commencement and Reunion weekends for the following year.
Thanks to this gift from Claire Schmitt, Litwin ensures that natural beauty remains an integral part of the Rensselaer landscape and that the campus comes alive each spring and remains vibrant through the fall.
Claire and Roland Schmitt Scholarship
Since 1988, the Schmitt’s have supported Rensselaer students who demonstrate leadership qualities, this year providing financial support to four students. Jessica Falk ’13 is grateful to be one of those students. She has also had the opportunity to meet Roland and Claire at our annual Celebration of Student Support, and having the chance to develop a relationship with them has made her experience at Rensselaer all the more meaningful.
Jessica said recently, "The entertaining eccentricity of my life at RPI keeps me busy, which is exactly how I like my education. It makes me feel like I'm living experiences, rather than just statically sitting in a classroom. I really appreciate attending this University. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Schmitt."
We, too, would like to thank Roland and Claire for their tremendous support over the years and for their continued involvement at Rensselaer. Their passion and commitment to the Institute demonstrates how endowment support secures the future of our students and faculty.