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Engaging Record Numbers of Alumni Worldwide

Alumni Association President Dennis Powers '63 reports on the organization's ever-expanding impact and global growth

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As you read this report and learn about the work being done, I hope you will be inspired to find out more about the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA), and to strengthen your commitment to and involvement with Rensselaer.

The RAA enjoys a strong and positive relationship with the Institute in partnership with the Office of Alumni Relations. Together we strive to create and maintain programs of the highest quality while strengthening the alumni network.

Our mission is to engage and empower current and future alumni (students) as active and effective partners with Rensselaer. We do this through the programs we sponsor — both on campus and around the world, the benefits we offer, and the valuable alumni network that we are committed to growing.

Engaging Record Numbers
In the past year, the RAA has engaged nearly 5,000 alumni at more than 180 events, a 15 percent increase over last year’s attendance. Perhaps more importantly, we were successful in attracting more than 200 alumni to attend and participate in their first Rensselaer event. Through this high level of activity worldwide, record numbers of alumni are being connected to the “new” Rensselaer.

A terrific example of our broad-based approach to alumni engagement worldwide is our partnership with the Office of International Advancement in building a new alumni chapter in China. There are hundreds of alumni in and around Beijing who have been instrumental in promoting the mission of Rensselaer in this important part of the world. President Jackson delivered the new charter to the group on her trip to Asia this past spring.

Professional Connections
One of the key ways to grow the alumni network is to offer programs that have distinct, unique, and valuable benefits in the professional lives of our alumni. The Professional Affinity program offers diverse programs in a wide range of fields consistent with the goals of The Rensselaer Plan.

Affinity events have taken place throughout the nation, including highly successful Venture Forums in New York City and Boston, as well as newly developed breakfast groups supporting alumni in any number of business pursuits. Additional programs focused on entrepreneurship, biotechnology, media and the performing arts, information technology, and technology law and commercialization.

A highlight of the year was the RAA-sponsored Nanotechnology Symposium, where more than 200 alumni, students, faculty researchers, and business leaders partnered for a two-day program exploring new research and new ventures.

Student Programs
Reaching out to Rensselaer’s current students is an important endeavor, and each year the number of programs to support this effort grows.

More than 5,000 students attended an RAA program or event in the last year, an 11 percent increase from 2004. Events included the annual Welcome Barbecue (part of the First-Year Experience), the Junior Ring Ceremony, the Legacy Family Reception, and the fourth annual RAA Back-to-Campus Speaker Series.

The success of these programs depends on the dedication of dozens of students. Many of these future alumni leaders are members of the Red & White Student Organization. This group of high-energy, articulate students serves as Rensselaer ambassadors at events on campus and around the country.

Supporting Rensselaer
The RAA demonstrates its support for the Institute in many ways — in the events we sponsor, the alumni we engage, and in the programs we finance.

Since 1988, the Rensselaer Alumni Association has contributed nearly $900,000 dollars in cash and pledges to Rensselaer to programs such as the Rensselaer Union, the RPIdeaLab, and support of numerous student initiatives each year including the RAA Student Community Service Award.

In 2004, the RAA announced it will play a lead role in “Renaissance at Rensselaer: The Campaign for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.” We have pledged $300,000 toward the new student athletic support facility due to be built on the East Campus.

The RAA is pleased to continue to support The Rensselaer Plan and the campaign as we work together to make the campus better for current students and future alumni.

RAA Event Photos

(Left) The Junior Ring Ceremony, a new annual event at Rensselaer; (middle) The RAA Back to Campus Speaker Series brings alumni back to share their experiences with students. This year, alumni from video game company Vicarious Visions spoke; (right) Family Weekend brings parents and family members to campus for tours, exhibits, sporting events, and more. An annual reception for Rensselaer legacies is held at the Heffner Alumni House. Photos by Kris Qua.

New Offerings
The latest new offerings from the RAA include enhancements to our travel program for alumni and students; high-quality alumni merchandise through our partnership with the Campus Bookstore; a custom alumni ring; and a new RAA Visa Card being offered by US Bank.

The RAA has announced a new partnership with IBM Lenovo that allows us to offer laptops for up to $650 less than published prices. Learn more by visiting @RPInet, the alumni Web community, at

2005 Financial Report
Income from operations including the credit card program, alumni-branded merchandise, and the travel program was $226,293 and investment income was $57,285. Operating expenses plus investments in Rensselaer programs totaled $92,010, leaving a year-end balance of $993,769.

Action Plan for 2006
While our accomplishments are many, we still have much more to do. The action plan for 2006 calls for us to:

  • Update our long-range strategic plan for 2007-2012
  • Develop meaningful benchmarks for our revenue-generating programs such as the credit card and travel programs
  • Implement remaining initiatives around the Alumni Hall of Fame
  • Expand our efforts to recruit qualified and ever-more diverse leaders for membership on the RAA Board
  • Invest in Rensselaer start-up companies like those housed in the Rensselaer Incubator, and
  • Develop a comprehensive communications program along with the Institute

This year marks the end of my term as RAA President. Robert Forman Jr., Class of 1961, will serve as president for the next two years. I would like to congratulate Bob and wish him well. He takes over an organization that is vital, energized, and poised to have great impact on the Institute and its alumni in the future. We look forward to your participation in RAA programs this year!

Dennis Powers ’63
RAA President

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Communications.

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