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2013 Patroon Recognition Brunch

“Ambassadors for Rensselaer”

Remarks by
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Heffner Alumni House
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Good morning and welcome. I hope that each of you has enjoyed this weekend as much as I have. It has been our pleasure to host you on the Troy campus.

As is our tradition, this morning we recognize and celebrate your support—and the difference it has made for Rensselaer.

It is largely because of your philanthropy that we have experienced an extraordinary transformation under The Rensselaer Plan over the last 14 years. Working together, we have put into place the people, programs, platforms, and partnerships that have reshaped Rensselaer into a world-class technological research university. I thank you for helping us to achieve our goals.

Now, with our bicentennial less than 11 years away, we shift our focus to The Rensselaer Plan 2024 and to the upcoming capital campaign. With this updated plan—a plan that you helped to contour—we move from transforming Rensselaer, to making Rensselaer a transformative force in the lives of our students, in our pedagogy, and in the global impact of our research.

We strive to create a complete student experience, to lead the way in educational innovation, and to extend our impact on humanity through forward-looking research initiatives focused on addressing the great global challenges.

In order to realize our ambitions and to truly change the world, we need your continuing advice and support.

The time is now to plan for the new capital campaign we will undertake to accomplish our mission. As part of that campaign, we will seek to increase both our endowment and our Annual Fund, so that we may provide additional financial aid for our students, and support the growth of our faculty.

Did you know that more than 90 percent of our student body receives some form of need-based financial assistance? Although the cost of attendance is just over $60,000, only a small group of students pays that price. In fact, tuition covers only 75 percent of the cost of educating our students. Your philanthropy helps us to close the gap.

Each and every gift makes a difference. Gifts to the Annual Fund have an immediate impact and ensure that we are able to deliver a superior education every day. Major gifts to specific initiatives allow Rensselaer to support new programs, and gifts to our endowment secure our long-term future. Testamentary gifts represent the ultimate commitment, and leave a lasting legacy.

As Patroons of Rensselaer, you are critical partners for us moving forward. You set the standard through your philanthropy and your dedication. However, this effort is larger than those of us in this room. It is larger, even, than the list of names scrolling on the screens. To be the Rensselaer that we must be, we must expand the community of people who support our mission.

As a Rensselaer Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy and Professor of Engineering Sciences, I naturally feel perfectly comfortable assigning you a bit of homework. So today, I ask that you serve as ambassadors for our vision of Rensselaer as a transformative force in the lives of our young people, in the world at large, and ultimately transformative for our collective future. When you leave, please share your enthusiasm with fellow alumni and alumnae who were unable to attend this weekend. Share our vision with your families, with potential students, with your neighbors and friends. Tweet it, Facebook it, Instagram it. In doing so, you will help us to build the Rensselaer network, and an even greater culture of philanthropy surrounding Rensselaer.

Our past successes suggest that, together, we will accomplish what we intend. I look forward to working with you, as Rensselaer works to change the world.

Now, let me highlight how meaningful you are to Rensselaer. As you might expect at a technological research university, we collected and analyzed a bit of data in preparation for this event. We discovered that just the group in this room right now has supported approximately…

  • Eight scholarship funds,
  • Four programmatic, or departmental funds, and
  • One prize fund, and
  • Two unrestricted gifts to the endowment.

Now, if we add to that all of the Annual Fund giving, and future funds from Heritage Society members, this room represents more than $4 million in giving. If we include the giving from all of our Patroon Society members, we have more than $2 million this year alone, and we are approaching $300 million in lifetime giving. That is remarkable.

On behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of Rensselaer and our entire community, we thank you for the time, the resources, and the talents you have given us. We applaud you, the Patroons of Rensselaer!

I would be remiss, if I failed to thank Jeff Schanz and his team for a wonderful weekend. Well done! Thank you!

I also want to thank to our Red and White students who have joined us today. Thank you for all you do for Rensselaer.

And now, if you would raise your glasses for a toast:

To the Patroons and Heritage Society members of Rensselaer—your generosity is changing the world by enabling us to apply science to the common purposes of life. You are the foundation of our present and future, and we salute you.

This certainly has been an extraordinary weekend, and it seems fitting to close with our alma mater. And now, please join me...

Here's to old RPI,
Her fame may never die.
Here's to old Rensselaer,
she stands today without a peer.
Here's to those olden days,
Here's to those golden days.
Here’s to the friends we made at dear old RPI.


Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.

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