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* The Rensselaer Plan The Rensselaer Plan
The Rensselaer Plan
Rensselaer

2. Fundamentals

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We will achieve our goal by embracing our core values, identifying the key characteristics and strengths on which we will build, and understanding the necessity of integrated planning and action.

2.1 Rensselaer Today
2.2 Unique Strengths
2.3 Opportunity and Challenge
2.4 Planning and The Rensselaer Plan

2.1 Rensselaer Today

Over nearly two centuries, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has maintained its reputation for providing an undergraduate education of undisputed intellectual rigor based on exceptional pedagogical innovation. As a research university, Rensselaer has attracted outstanding faculty whose research programs range from microelectronics to computational modeling and simulation, mathematical finance, advanced materials, environmental studies, lighting, and electronic arts. Rensselaer’s graduate engineering program ranks 19th in the nation.

The Schools of Engineering, Science, Architecture, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Management and Technology, and the interdisciplinary Faculty of Information Technology educate 9,600 students, enrolling 5,000 undergraduates and 1,800 graduate students in residential programs. Rensselaer also enrolls 2,800 students in distance programs and at Rensselaer at Hartford. Rensselaer has earned distinction in interactive learning and the application of information technology to education. New programs have enriched the profile of the student body. The Rensselaer degree is highly regarded, and graduates are aggressively sought by industry, universities, and the public sector. Recent initiatives include new interdisciplinary degree programs in bioinformatics and information technology.

Current annual research funding totals $40 million. A significant portion of this support comes from industry, well above the national average, and testimony to the importance of Rensselaer research to the private sector. The Institute is a pioneer in interdisciplinary research and has expanded its programs by making focused research investments supported by strong industry partnerships in such fields as microelectronics, advanced materials, scientific computation, polymer science, industrial automation, and lighting research.

In the last 20 years Rensselaer has encouraged technology partnerships and dissemination, developing an internationally recognized incubator center and a flourishing technology park. More recently the Institute has focused on technological entrepreneurship, commercializing leading-edge research and creating new business ventures.

2.2 Unique Strengths

Looking forward, Rensselaer builds on a unique combination of strengths.

Interdisciplinary inquiry. Rensselaer has excelled in employing multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches in curriculum, teaching, research, and outreach. The Institute has been aggressive in building alliances with partners with complementary expertise. Interdisciplinarity is the Institute’s most exploitable competitive advantage.

Interactive learning. The value of learning by doing was a central proposition in Rensselaer’s first plan of education. At a time when recitation was the dominant educational model, early Rensselaer students were involved in laboratory demonstrations, taking responsibility for discovery and learning. Today, 175 years later, the Institute still is a recognized leader in interactive learning, using technology and teamwork to involve students as active participants in their own educations – both on campus and at distance.

Technological entrepreneurship. Rensselaer was founded in 1824 “for the purpose of instructing persons ... in the application of science to the common purposes of life.” Rensselaer people have performed the research, developed the technologies, produced the innovations, and formed the enterprises that defined and accomplished the technological agendas of the 19th and 20th centuries. They will do so in the 21st century.

Rensselaer has achieved distinction by focusing its considerable talents and energies on its unique strengths. We will infuse interdisciplinary inquiry, interactive learning, and technological entrepreneurship in all that we do. We will reach our goal by employing strategic focus, energy, agility, comity, and uncommon will.

2.3 Opportunity and Challenge

Focused technological universities in the United States enjoy an extraordinary range of opportunities. Technological innovation is driving national prosperity and is a clearly understood priority of both lawmakers and the public. U.S. high-technology industries, often spun out of universities, have gained international dominance. They have achieved unprecedented support and recognition as the leading industries of the new century. As their investors and creators have acquired wealth, they are increasing their philanthropic contributions to higher education. At the same time, federal research budgets for the physical, information, and especially, biological sciences are growing, spurred by societal priorities, and urged on by industry, which increasingly turns to technological universities as partners in research, in business, and in technological education.

As Rensselaer moves forward, so also does its peer group of technological research universities, all intent on enhancing their leadership positions. Among these schools, we are small and underresourced. While we have achieved international prominence in innovative pedagogy and specific research areas, the pace of growth in research funding, research degrees, and endowment has lagged behind most major research universities, a reality that is reflected in our ranking as a national university. While we have realized extraordinary accomplishments with limited resources, the gap between our aspirations and our means continues to grow.

To strengthen education, enhance reputation, and increase the flow of resources, Rensselaer thus must pledge a much deeper commitment to research and graduate education, while extending our excellence in undergraduate education.

Our ability to attract and retain the best faculty, and therefore the best students, will be critical for attaining these goals. Rensselaer thus must reflect the diversity of the global community in order to have the best talent as well as the multiple perspectives and innovations necessary for a world-class technological research university.

2.4 Planning and The Rensselaer Plan

Stephen Van Rensselaer and Amos Eaton launched their “magnificent experiment” in 1824 with The Rensselaerean Plan, a historic statement that gave form to Eaton’s vision for applying science to life’s common purposes. The Rensselaer Plan is a 21st century expression of this tradition.

The Rensselaer Plan articulates a strategic vision and delineates the means to achieve it. An “evergreen” plan designed to be revised on a regular basis, The Rensselaer Plan will guide our decisions and provide the framework for school and divisional performance plans that will serve as the basis for each year’s operating plan and budget. Performance plans will define means and metrics, and when prioritized, will create the case for major new resources.

Integrated effort has created The Rensselaer Plan, and integrated effort will realize its vision. We are a diverse community comprising a broad array of talents and perspectives. Even as we celebrate this diversity, we are united in pursuit of a common goal: greater prominence as a top-tier world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact.

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