|At Rensselaer’s founding in 1824, rail transportation was in its infancy, and the internal combustion engine existed only in theory.
Faraday and Henry were still refining the dynamo. Edison, Bell, and the Wright Brothers had not yet begun their work. It truly was the dawn of technological discovery and Amos Eaton and Stephen Van Rensselaer’s vision seized on that moment.
Today, we are on the verge of another dawn of discovery and innovation only now, the pace of change is measured in nanoseconds.
Technology is driving the world’s economy and shaping society. Old disciplines are evolving new applications in business and industry. New technologies are spawning research into unexplored territories.
The basic knowledge the seed corn for developing and contributing to this new technological revolution already exists here at Rensselaer. We need only to capitalize on our strengths and draw from our historic core values to take our place on the leading edge of the revolution.
Our mission “to apply science to the common purposes of life” has never looked more auspicious. Enrollments are up, our faculty represents the best and the brightest in a wide range of disciplines, enthusiasm is high.
We have created The Rensselaer Plan to seize this historic moment. The first such undertaking in 25 years, it will galvanize our strengths and create a catalyst for change. It is comprehensive, complex, and ambitious. It articulates our vision and the means for attaining our carefully defined objectives.
The Rensselaer Plan is designed to be implemented. Task forces and the means for measuring progress are already in place. We have begun the work of achieving our overall goal for Rensselaer: to achieve prominence in the 21st century as a top-tier world-class technological research university, with global reach and global impact.
Developing and implementing this plan is the number one priority of my presidency. But it is hardly mine alone. It represents the best thinking of a wide range of people across and outside the greater Rensselaer community, and is truly a top down and bottom up effort.
In short, we have listened. We have involved our administrators, alumni, and faculty. We listened to outside educators, corporate leaders, and the scientific community. We listened to an external advisory group in Washington, and to internal groups and individuals. Our only firm preconception was continued commitment to our principles of leadership, excellence, and community.
As you will see in the following pages, The Rensselaer Plan is aggressive and universitywide. Although we have focused on research as a means of acquiring prominence, education as always remains our mission.
Research is the means to fulfilling this mission. It is the creation of knowledge through research that completes the educational continuum and assures that students seeking careers at the leading edges are taught by faculty who are themselves on those edges.
It is toward that end that our first research “constellation” has been established by Gail and Jeff Kodosky ’70. Their generous and insightful contribution enables us to bring in internationally recognized senior faculty to work with our own faculty and resources in physics, information technology, and entrepreneurship key focal areas for the future.
Also gratifying is a recent gift to the unrestricted endowment from Pauline Urban Bruggeman and Warren H. Bruggeman ’46. In recognition of their gift, we will name a complex of rooms in the new biotechnology and interdisciplinary studies research facility in their honor. We are enormously grateful, both for their gift’s financial as well as symbolic value.
Guided by The Rensselaer Plan, supported by our alumni and the greater Rensselaer family, we will meet our ambitious goal: to secure Rensselaer’s place as a world-class technological research university for a new century.
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.