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2012 Patroon Recognition Brunch

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

Russell Sage Dining Hall
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, New York

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Good morning and welcome. I hope that each of you has enjoyed this weekend as much as I have.   After a full schedule of activities and events, I believe a celebration of this sort is a fitting way to close the weekend, as we recognize and celebrate your support and the amazing transformation it has supported at Rensselaer. 

This weekend represents a special opportunity to join together with lifelong friends and to make new ones. Through these connections, you are afforded the chance to reminisce about your Rensselaer past, and to create new Rensselaer experiences for the future. Being here, you are able to experience firsthand the transformation that has taken place at Rensselaer. 

We commend you for making the choice to support Rensselaer. Your doing so has an enormous impact on Rensselaer and its future. 

The culture of giving begins with our students, who through your giving, receive an excellent education, and come to know the importance of supporting the Institute.

As you have heard throughout the weekend, The Refreshed Rensselaer Plan is intended to ensure that Rensselaer is in a position to have greater global impact, and to answer the question, “Why Not Change the World?” The solutions to our global water, food, health, housing, transportation, and energy challenges – the Global Challenges - will come from scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, humanists and architects who are working on the frontiers of discovery and innovation in energy, health, transportation, infrastructure, high performance computing, advanced manufacturing, and other arenas. Our strategic plan provides the vision and blueprint to enable Rensselaer faculty and students to generate the ideas and spark the innovations that drive the global economy and sustain our security.

Much of the groundwork was laid more than a decade ago with adoption of the original Rensselaer Plan. A solid foundation has been built, and the list of achievements, thus far, is long. We have erected new facilities, academic, athletic and residential; we have attracted world-class faculty to guide and educate our amazing young people; and our world class research is having global impact. All of these things have been possible because of your philanthropy. I thank you for helping us to achieve our goals.

We all know the importance of working together to accomplish great things. As we move forward with our vision for the future, we will require continued commitment and support, not only from dedicated alumni/ae, but from friends and the entire Rensselaer community. 

One of our key foci, in addition to building our endowment, will be on annual giving. 

While gifts of any kind are invaluable to the Institute, gifts to the Rensselaer Annual Fund are especially critical because they have immediate impact. Because of this they have enabled the transformation under The Rensselaer Plan, and they will allow for continuous success under The Refreshed Plan.

These gifts transform facilities, support faculty, and fund innovations. These gifts support a variety of student initiatives: scholarships, fellowships, financial aid, athletics, teaching, research, mobile computing, interactive classrooms, award-winning student life programs, and other learning opportunities. 

One of the most personal and lasting ways to make a difference is with a gift of scholarship support. Ninety-five percent of our students receive some kind of financial aid, most of it need-based. These programs and such support often help a student realize his/her dreams and build a future – a future that may very well include changing the world.

Those who support a Patroon Scholar often are afforded several opportunities throughout the year to interact with their scholarship recipients. As you have seen in the words of our students throughout the scrolling presentation, this interaction is invaluable to our future leaders. 

It is within this context that we would like to pay special tribute to the Annual Patroon Societies members this morning. As your society’s name is called, please stand to be recognized, along with your spouse and/or your guest. 

To begin, I will ask members of the President’s Circle to please stand.  Your support of $25,000 or more to the Annual Fund this past year has been key in advancing our mission. Your extraordinary generosity is greatly appreciated. 

Next, I am pleased to recognize the Innovators, who made an annual gift of at least $20,000 this past year. We appreciate your special generosity and are proud to recognize your efforts today.

Next we offer recognition to our Pathfinders, whose annual gifts of $10,000 or more go a long way toward supporting our programs. At this level, you are able to support a student through the Patroon Scholar program.

Will the Explorers please stand? Your annual gifts of $5,000 help provide support to a variety of programs and for that, we thank you.

Let us recognize the Surveyors in the room. Whether you are a recent graduate or one from many years ago, your annual gifts help to move our vision forward here at Rensselaer.

Now, I also would like to recognize a select group of individuals who are with us this morning. Their extraordinary generosity is the platform on which we build.

To begin, I ask Douglas T. Mercer, Class of 1977, to join me on stage. 

Mr. Mercer is a member of the President’s Circle and the George M. Lowe ’48 Society. Throughout the years, Doug has supported the Annual Fund, and most recently funded the Douglas Mercer ’77 Laboratory for Student Exploration and Innovation within the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering. This laboratory is meant to provide engineering students with a place to pursue ‘the lost art of tinkering’, as Mr. Mercer likes to say. As a token of our appreciation for your support, I am pleased to present you with this gift. 

Thank you, Doug.

Next, I am pleased to recognize Nola and Harry A. Cotesworth, Class of 1951. Mr. and Mrs. Cotesworth, please join me.

Mr. and Mrs. Cotesworth are members of the George M. Lowe ’48 and Heritage Societies. Their support through the years has gone to the Annual Fund, the Harry A. Cotesworth Endowment Fund, a President’s Discretionary Fund, and the Approach Restoration Fund. We are grateful for your philanthropy, and as such, I am pleased to present you both with this gift.

Thank you, Harry and Nola. 

And, last, but certainly not least, I would like to ask Gail and Jeffrey Kodosky, Class of 1970, to join me on stage. 

Mr. and Mrs. Kodosky are members of the 1824 Lifetime Giving Society and the President’s Circle. In addition to the leadership Mr. Kodosky provides as a member of the Board of Trustees, Jeff and Gail provide support to a variety of funds, including: the Rensselaer Annual Fund, the Gail and Jeffrey L. Kodosky ’70 Endowment Fund, the Kodosky Foundation Fund for Classical Music. 

And they also support the Gail and Jeffrey L. Kodosky ’70 Program Development Fund for Information Technology and Entrepreneurship, the Gail and Jeffrey L. Kodosky ’70 Career Development Chair in Physics, Information Technology and Entrepreneurship, and the Gail and Jeffrey L. Kodosky ’70 Senior Chair in Physics, Information Technology and Entrepreneurship. Thank you both for your extraordinary…simply extraordinary… dedication to Rensselaer. It is my pleasure to present you with this gift to recognize all you have done for Rensselaer throughout the years. 

On behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of Rensselaer and our entire community, we thank all of you for your gifts of time, of resources, and of talent. We applaud you - the Patroons of Rensselaer!

I would be remiss not to take this opportunity to thank Jeff Schanz, and his alumni relations team for a wonderful weekend. Well done, thank you.

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

For those of you who began your weekend with us at the Rensselaer Alumni Association Awards dinner, you will recall that I asked you to join with me to take stock of where we are today and to reflect on your vision for the Rensselaer of the future. I ask that, as you do that, please drop us a note with your thoughts. We need your input to help us continue Rensselaer on the path we have begun to be a top-tier world-class technological research university with global reach and impact.

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

To the Patroons and Heritage Society members of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – your generosity enables us to change the world. Thank you.

And now, please join me in singing the alma mater.

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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