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* The Rensselaer Plan The Rensselaer Plan
The Rensselaer Plan
Rensselaer

3. Resident Undergraduate Education

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Rensselaer’s educational strength lies in its ability to examine concepts and ideas across disciplines and relate them to the world of practice.

3.1 Undergraduate Programs and Students
3.2 Interactive Learning
3.3 Participation in Research and Innovation
3.4 An Engaging Student Experience
3.5 Seamless Student Service

Rensselaer is committed to an undergraduate experience that surpasses all others, combining theory and hands-on experience as the means to educate tomorrow’s leaders for technologically based careers. The Institute will enroll outstanding undergraduate students in excellent programs distinguished by interactive pedagogies, partnerships with faculty in research and innovation, seamless customer service, and a campus culture and engaging student experience that create a lifelong relationship with the Institute.

3.1 Undergraduate Programs and Students

Excellence in undergraduate education requires constant improvement in the quality of programs, and the makeup of the student body. We will continue to provide compelling programs that suggest exciting futures; provide a firm grounding in the fundamentals; bridge knowledge to practice; emphasize discovery, reasoning, and action; inculcate a world perspective and cultural understanding; and produce leaders. We will:

  • 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.

  • Create course concentrations, minors, second disciplines, dual degrees, interdisciplinary projects, and other structures that enable students to work at the intersections of disciplines and forge exciting individual career trajectories.

  • Update the core curriculum to reflect advances in research strengths, including information technology, biotechnology, and scientific and technological entrepreneurship.

  • Offer excellent courses in the arts, sciences, humanities, and social sciences that provide strong foundations and enable students to understand and work within the cultural, social, economic, and political contexts in which they will be expected to lead.

  • Integrate outcomes assessment and evaluation into all education programs, ensuring timely and continuous improvement.

Outstanding programs are geared to outstanding students who will be enriched by and add value to Rensselaer. We will:

  • Set the undergraduate student body size at approximately 5,000 undergraduate students.

  • Increase admissions selectivity, with particular attention to mathematics/science credentials and high school performance (especially in AP and honors courses).

  • Seek diversity in its broadest and richest sense, including intellectual and cultural breadth, athletic ability, and entrepreneurial interest.

  • Seek greater ethnic and gender diversity by employing new recruiting mechanisms and providing a hospitable climate for all students.

  • Recruit nationally, broadening the geographic base of target schools, developing linkages with new schools, especially those enrolling students underrepresented in science and technology, and developing joint education programs with key partners.

  • Graduate students known for their abilities as innovative problem-solvers, excellent communicators, interdisciplinary thinkers, team participants, and skilled leaders.

3.2 Interactive Learning

Rensselaer’s internationally recognized leadership position in interactive teaching and learning provides an exceptional foundation for excellent and distinctive undergraduate education programs. Given the urgent need to excite and engage a nation of learners about science and technology, and given the importance of distinctive education programs to our success as a top-tier world-class technological university, The Rensselaer Plan nurtures and enhances interactive teaching and learning as an Institutewide enterprise. We will:

  • Investigate new interactive pedagogies across all curricula, forging a deeper relationship between student and teacher.

  • Engage students in collaborative learning experiences, taking advantage of technology to facilitate interactivity and teamwork skills to solve problems.

  • Customize the learning experience to individual needs, deploying interactive pedagogies to engage a full range of backgrounds and learning styles.

  • Use interactive pedagogies to create “virtual environments” that extend the student experience in time and space, sharing courses among universities and creating virtual classrooms, discussion groups, and project settings with faculty and students at other universities, and with researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and policy-makers around the world.

  • Develop continuous and interactive assessment techniques so that testing becomes a tool for learning.

  • Pursue leadership in the use of technology in education, developing deeper understanding of how we learn, accelerating the pace of innovation in interactive learning, and providing opportunities to showcase innovative results.

3.3 Participation in Research and Innovation

Rensselaer’s educational strength lies in its ability to examine concepts and ideas across disciplines and relate them to the world of practice. Our emphasis on leadership, teamwork, and communication skills transcends traditional courses or even disciplines. To enable our students to attain their full potential in the discovery and responsible application of knowledge, it is essential to involve them in the research work of the Institute. We will:

  • Provide incentives for faculty who open their labs to undergraduate students to create research opportunities, facilitate faculty/student interaction, and expand the pipeline of bright, eager students into graduate study.

  • Focus participation in research as a means to cultivate women and students of color to expand their representation in our faculty.

  • Ensure that all students have a research experience by enlarging the Undergraduate Research Program, and by adding a thesis or comparable major scholarly work requirement for seniors.

  • Expand the number of co-op, internship, and project opportunities for students in Rensselaer’s innovation enterprises in the incubator program and technology park as well as in programs conducted by other universities, industry, and government. Include opportunities that may be virtual, or short-term.

3.4 An Engaging Student Experience

We will provide experiential, residential, and recreational environments that embrace our students and connect them to Rensselaer for life. This begins with a demonstrated commitment to student success that extends from their earliest contact with Rensselaer through the student and alumni years. We will:

  • 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.

  • Provide pervasive opportunities for student enterprise, entrepreneurship, community service, and leadership development within academic programs, outside the classroom, in residential settings on campus, and in sororities and fraternities. Utilize the Rensselaer Union and the Archer Center for Student Leadership Development as unique resources in these efforts.

  • Empower students as learners and entrepreneurs who design and manage projects, processes, and organizations as students.

  • Enliven campus life by creating social activities, competitions, and occasions to celebrate achievement, honor tradition, and create a culture in which students see themselves as belonging to the larger university community.

  • Create improved presentation and performance spaces on the campus through renovation or new construction.

  • Undertake rolling renovation and/or replacement of residence halls for undergraduates according to an integrated Institutewide capital plan.

  • Replace or renovate athletic facilities according to an integrated Institutewide capital plan.

  • Ensure full-time coaching staff for all women’s and men’s intercollegiate sports programs.

3.5 Seamless Student Service

The Institute is under an obligation to support students in managing the logistics of their education. These services include outstanding academic advising; career, health, and counseling services; and consolidated, timely, and accurate information on courses and educational opportunities, progress to degree, financial aid, and account status. We will, for all students:

  • Increase the accessibility, connectivity, and reliability of information systems affecting student life; this includes upgrading the Institute’s Web presence as a constant source of information and interaction with others, and completing the “wiring” of the campus for communication, information, and academic and research needs.

  • Provide information proactively, with the goal of enabling students to resolve issues and problems.

  • Set standards for providing students and their families and sponsors with professional, competent, efficient, and friendly customer service, and redesign processes to meet these standards.

  • Provide the staff and faculty who serve students with the tools, training, and performance metrics required for seamless service.

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