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A Watershed Moment: Where We Have Been; a Look Ahead—Challenges and Opportunities

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

The 2008 Presidential Fall Town Meeting
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, N.Y.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Good morning. Thank you for coming.

We assemble, this morning, as a community, in this newest Rensselaer venue — this transformational place — this, the latest symbol of the Renaissance at Rensselaer.

And, we welcome our Hartford faculty, staff, and students who are joining us by simulcast.

I thought that holding Fall Town Meeting here would be an opportunity for all of us to become familiar with the uniqueness that is EMPAC — specifically to experience the extraordinary acoustics extant here...the musical presentation you heard as you came in is Frédéric Chopin’s, “Etude in g minor,” performed on EMPAC’s state-of-the-art Yamaha player-piano.

We will be treated to another piece — “Sonata in e-major” by Domenico Scarlatti, at the close.

We gather at a watershed moment.

Within the last two weeks,

  • We have met, and exceeded, the $1.4 billion Capital Campaign goal — a goal that some warned was too high, but I believe that in surpassing all expectations, we have shown that we judged well;
  • We have completed — and are celebrating in splendid form — the opening of the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), with an extraordinary program encompassed within an extraordinary facility;
  • And last week, we launched the first National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) led by Rensselaer — the only Engineering Research Center in New York state, and one that is expected to receive up to $50 million in funding over the next ten years.

This confluence epitomizes the realization of the Renaissance of Rensselaer — a reality that is enabling Rensselaer to attract superlative leadership, star research and teaching faculty, the brightest students, and to draw research grants that enhance our national and international reputation, and to build a university truly representative of greatness.

Nine years ago, at my inauguration as the 18th President of Rensselaer, I challenged the university to “take risks on entirely new initiatives,” and to “maximize the synergies” to be achieved from a robust range of strong research programs. I spoke to “greatness.”

Our achievements since that time, now, are coalescing to create this reality.

What is this reality of Rensselaer?

We now have a unique triad of facilities:

  • The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS);
  • The Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI); and
  • The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC)

This triad offers Rensselaer faculty and students a completely unique flow of cross-disciplinary opportunities that foster advanced exploration and discovery, creativity, and innovation.

As well, we are attracting stellar faculty, brilliant students, funding from a widening variety of government and corporate sector sources, and national and international attention and interest.

As I often do, I will speak in terms of People, Programs, and Platforms — for these are the heart, and the core, of Rensselaer.

PEOPLE

New Faculty and New Leadership

We are attracting and appointing superlative research-oriented faculty and a new generation of leaders. I will introduce those who have joined us most recently, as well as several of our own who have accepted new positions.

Joining Rensselaer on October 1, and completing the Tetherless World Constellation, is Dr. Peter Fox, who is Tetherless World Constellation Chaired Professor, and Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences. Dr. Fox came to us from the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in Boulder, Colorado, where he was chief computational scientist. His research explores the application of applied mathematics, theoretical physics, and computer science to a variety of problems in solar and solar-terrestrial physics, and the immense challenge posed by numerical simulation, modern observing systems and assimilation, and analysis of the resulting data with the goal of turning data into knowledge. Previously, he was a research scientist at the Center for Solar and Space Research at Yale University. Dr. Fox received a BSc in Mathematics and a PhD in Mathematics from Monash University, Victoria, Australia.

During FY’09, we have recruited a total of 21 new faculty. They include:

  • Two in the School of Architecture
  • Ten in the School of Engineering
  • Three in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
  • Five in the Lally School of Management and Technology
  • And one in the School of Science.

Overall, we have hired 200 new faculty across all schools in the past seven years — 74 into entirely new tenure and tenure track positions.

Assuming new duties, Professor Jonathan Dordick has accepted the position of Director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. He joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1998, serving as chair of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department for four years. His broad research interests are in the areas of biocatalysis, bioengineering, and nanobiotechnology. He co-founded EnzyMed, Inc., a pharmaceutical discovery company, and Solidus Biosciences, a venture-stage biotechnology company. He serves on the scientific advisory boards for several biotechnology companies, and has chaired the division of biochemical technology for the American Chemical Society (ACS). Dr. Dordick received his doctorate in biochemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is a fellow of both the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

We thank Professor Robert Linhardt for his service as Acting Director of CBIS, while maintaining an active research portfolio of his own, as he returns to his role as the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering.

There are several others who, recently, joined the Institute leadership team.

Mr. Robert Schlesinger began his tenure with Rensselaer also on October 1st, as Vice President for Institute Advancement. For more than 23 years Mr. Schlesinger has managed fundraising efforts in all areas of development. From 2004 until 2007, Mr. Schlesinger was Chief Endowment Officer and Director of Advancement and Alumni at Singapore Management University (SMU). For four years prior to that, he served as Director of Development and Membership at the Zoological Society of San Diego. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of California, Berkeley; and, Artium Baccalaureate in Psychology and Social Relations, Cum Laude, from Harvard College.

Joining Rensselaer August 1st as Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education, is Dr. Stanley Dunn. Formerly with Rutgers University, Dr. Dunn served as the graduate program director, vice chair, acting chair, and interim chair of Rutgers’ Department of Biomedical Engineering. He, also, played a key role in growing the department’s undergraduate enrollment from four in 2000, to 225 in 2005, as well as helping oversee the construction of a $35 million, 80,000-square-foot building for the department. Dr. Dunn’s administrative experience includes developing university-wide initiatives in such areas as packaging engineering, water resource management, and homeland security. He has extensive experience building academic programs, including overseeing the country’s first engineering-based clinical training program in prosthetics and orthotics. Dr. Dunn received two undergraduate degrees from Drexel University, and earned his master’s degree and doctorate in computer science from the University of Maryland. In addition, he holds a doctorate in imaging science from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

And, Ms. Lisa Trahan became Assistant Vice President for the Student Experience on October 1. Ms. Trahan has served as Dean of the Office of the First-Year Experience at Rensselaer since 2001. Prior to that, Ms. Trahan served as Acting Director of the Office of Residence Life, as well as Associate Dean of Students. Ms. Trahan received her Master’s Degree in Student Personnel Administration from the State University of New York College at Buffalo; and, Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, also from the State University of New York College at Buffalo.

Enrollment

The reality of the new Rensselaer is exerting the same pull on the strength of student demand for a Rensselaer education.

Undergraduate

Our current freshmen class of 1356 were chosen from over 11,200 applications, and represents another year of increasing SAT averages (this year’s entering class SAT average increased to 1340, reflecting a 20 point jump in just 2 years) and widening diversity in every way (geographic, gender, cultural, socio-economic, and intellectual).

Next year’s class also appears strong, as we are tracking about 20 percent (year-to-date) ahead of last year. Data show that there, currently, are 83,000 inquiries. By contrast, there were 70,000 at this time last year. Last year’s end-of-year total was 80,000 inquiries. Of our current total, 43,000 inquires are from women — and that amounts to more women than men for the first time in Rensselaer history, as far as we know. Also, of the 83,000 inquiries, 14,000 come from under-represented students.

Already, we have 1000 applications in hand, which is 100 percent ahead of last year. Of these, over 350 have requested Early Decision — which, also, is about 100 percent ahead of last year. This is a strong indicator that Rensselaer is a first choice school. Of these applications in hand, 400 are women, and 100 are under-represented students.

Graduate

The entering Fall 2008 Graduate Admissions cycle, also, showed strong growth. Our graduate students who entered this fall reflect:

  • A 13 percent increase in the graduate application pool;
  • A 20 percent increase in overall graduate students;
  • A 21 percent increase in doctoral students;
  • A 20 percent increase in domestic graduate students;
  • A 13 percent increase in minority graduate students;
  • A 6 percent increase in women graduate students;
  • A 33 percent increase in Rensselaer undergraduate students attending RPI as their graduate school of choice; and
  • A 30 percent increase in graduate students from outside the Northeast U.S.

PROGRAMS

Student Life

We have worked hard to establish the best living/learning environment for our students. The effectiveness and care provided by our student life programs, and our faculty — with more academic support, are validated by our freshmen to sophomore retention rate. This reached a new all time high of 95 percent, breaking down to 96 percent for women, 94 percent for men, and 89 percent for underrepresented minority students — excellent numbers by any comparison.

Building on the success of our award-winning First Year Experience, the Sophomore Year Experience program will be launched in the fall of 2010 with the Class of 2013. Stay tuned for details. We expect it will be as important and exciting as has been our First Year Experience.

This is the beginning of the new Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students (CLASS) initiative geared to living and learning initiatives, and to transforming the overall undergraduate student experience. As students progress from one year to the next, an array of professionals, led by a Class Dean — with faculty involvement — will integrate across the academic portfolios to fold in the full spectrum of student services, and career counselling. Likewise, residential cluster deans, who may be faculty, and/or student life professionals, will live in the residential complexes to create a continuum of living-learning opportunities and communities within Rensselaer. Greek Life and off-campus living (for upper-class students) are aligned with residence life and the CLASS initiative, so that young people residing in all residential models — campus residence halls, fraternities, off-campus housing, et cetera — remain within the Rensselaer community, and within reach of the sphere of Rensselaer curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular programming, growth and participation opportunities, and, of course, counselling services.

Academic Enterprise

New faculty and our multidisciplinary approach to both research and education are enabling the launch of new Rensselaer degree programs. A new example is the partnership of Rensselaer and Albany Med to offer a joint BS/MD — a Bachelor of Science/Medical Degree. Initiated by Provost Robert Palazzo and Dean Vince Verdille, the program’s architect is Dr. Natacha DePaola, Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. At the completion of their studies in this degree program, Rensselaer biomedical engineering students will receive an accredited BS in Biomedical Engineering and an MD degree, becoming practicing physicians and trained engineers — a unique and powerful combination important and valuable as medicine becomes increasingly technological.

While the program has just been announced, and first year students are currently under review for acceptance into this highly competitive program, Albany Med has opened a limited number of positions for second year students, as well. The program builds on a similar collaboration between the School of Science and Albany Med, operating for more than 20 years, which has produced outstanding physician-scientists, and which continues.

Rensselaer Engineering Education Across Cultural Horizons (REACH)

This year we launch the new international program — Rensselaer Engineering Education Across Cultural Horizons (or REACH), an ambitious new program in which members of the junior class in engineering will study abroad at specific partner universities — this year in Denmark and Singapore. The plan calls for the percentage of Rensselaer participants to rise with the intent that REACH will be fully implemented in 2015, when all engineering juniors will be expected to participate in a semester-long, or summer, international experience. We foresee the program expanding to include students across all schools as Rensselaer continues to prepare its students for success in the global arena.

EMPAC Affiliated Faculty

As the Institute research portfolio expands with EMPAC, we are launching an “Affiliated Faculty” program at EMPAC. This title will be given to Rensselaer faculty engaged in concrete research projects tied to EMPAC-related disciplines, whose work, clearly, can benefit from the unique venues and technological capabilities of this facility, and whose work, in turn, will be of clear benefit to Rensselaer students, the campus community, and the world. The first two named are Jonas Braasch, Director of the Communication Acoustics and Aural Architecture Research Laboratory in the School of Architecture; and Pauline Oliveros, an internationally acclaimed composer and musical pioneer who, also, is a Distinguished Research Professor of Music in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Their National Science Foundation (NSF) grant is entitled “A Robust Distributed Intelligent System for Telematic Applications.” In brief, they intend to create an avatar in the form of a musical conductor with artificial intelligence to coordinate between co-located musicians, using Computational Auditory Scene Analysis to allow robust feature recognition, and evolutionary algorithms for the creative component. It will be the first model of its kind.

Research Enterprise

The Rensselaer research enterprise, as at other universities, is dependent, to some degree, on the Federal Budget. In real terms, the FY’09 Federal Budget shows that research support will decrease for the 5th year in a row. It is down 9.1 percent since 2004.

The federal research and development budget includes increases of between 15 percent and 20 percent for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) — the three physical science agencies. Funding for biomedical sciences will be flat, with flat or declining support for social and behavioral sciences, non-biomedical life and biological sciences, and earth sciences.

Increases are proposed for physics, astronomy, and chemistry, with strong support for mathematical sciences, with continued support for multi-agency programs in Nanotechnology (NNI), Networking and IT (NITRD), and Climate Change (CCSP). Overall, increases will be driven, primarily, by funding for development projects.

Against this budget backdrop and Federal funding opportunities, Rensselaer faculty continue to develop and submit proposals to the major federal research and development funding agencies (NSF, NIH, DOD, DOE, and DHS). They are being successful.

The new ERC, to which I referred earlier, is but a single example of such success, and of the possibilities that lie before us. It is the outcome of the Constellation concept, which I proposed at my inauguration, and which, early on, we embedded in The Rensselaer Plan.

Under the leadership of professor and photonics pioneer, Dr. E. Fred Schubert, the Wellfleet Senior Constellation Professor of Future Chips and professor of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering (ECSE) and physics, and his constellation colleagues Dr. Christian Weztel, the Wellfleet Career Development Constellation Professor, Future Chips, and Dr. Shawn-Yu Lin, the IT Constellation Professor-Future Chips, the Center will develop light emitting technologies enabling revolutionary new systems, and a new multi-billion dollar advanced lighting industry. Initial applications will focus on rapid diagnostic bio-imaging, new optical display systems, safer transportation systems, and novel modes of communication.

Over five years, the NSF will provide $18.5 million to the Center. Additional funding will come from New York state, and from industrial partners. If the ERC is renewed for an additional five years, the overall funding level will exceed $50 million. Rensselaer is the lead university, partnering with Boston University and the University of New Mexico.

In addition, Rensselaer research faculty have been awarded a number of other significant research grants.

U.S. Department of Energy Grants

Rensselaer Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering researchers Dr. Mark Shepherd, professor and Director of the Scientific Computation Research Center (SCOREC) and Dr. Kenneth Jansen, are part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computation Applied Mathematics Center on Interoperable Technologies for Advanced Petascale Simulations. The Rensselaer focus is on providing the technologies needed to ensure the reliability of advanced DOE simulations through adaptive control of simulations that require petascale computers. Their work involves collaborating with the DOE Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory on improving their ability to model plasmas in fusion reactors, and with the DOE Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory on improving their ability to model electromagnetic fields in accelerator structures. The project is funded at $500,000 annually over 5 years.

Nuclear Science and Engineering Grants

Rensselaer continues to assume a proactive role in the nation’s nuclear renaissance through the revitalization and growth of the Nuclear Engineering Program in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering. Highlights of the program include the hiring of eight faculty in the past three years, and the receipt of NRC funding for new faculty support and graduate student support.

The research highlight has been the three-year, $3 million grant to Dr. Michael Podowski Department of Energy funded program titled, “Deployment of a Suite of High Performance Computational Tools for Multiscale Multiphysics Simulation of Generation-IV Reactors.” This is a multi-investigator program focusing on computational methodologies needed for the design of next generation nuclear reactors. The thermal-hydraulics science and engineering behind reactor design are central to the safety and capacity of this critically important energy source of the future.

In August, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) awarded Rensselaer two grants totaling $850,000 to boost nuclear engineering education, research, and workforce development.

National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) Grants

On October 1, NASA’s National Astrobiology Institute — a partnership between the space agency and 14 universities, research laboratories, and NASA Centers — made a 5-year, $7.9 million grant to a team of Rensselaer researchers. Its purpose is to define and conduct integrated interdisciplinary research and education in astrobiology. Rensselaer is one of five new partnership members, although the total number of members has dropped from 16 to 14.

The overall research goal is to determine the conditions that lead to the origin of a habitable world like the Earth, addressing the universality and efficacy of key pathways that lead from atoms and molecules in the interstellar medium to planets and life.

Under the leadership of Dr. Douglas Whittet, the Rensselaer School of Science research team will investigate the applicability to Mars of geochemical methods used to place time constraints on processes and events on early Earth, and explore the potential role of mineral catalysis in production of RNA, and other prebiotic molecules on both planets.

This graphic is a schematic representation of “Setting the stage for life,” showing the scope and synergy of our research. A public announcement of this new Rensselaer School of Science center will occur in the near future.

The result, of research, of course, is discovery — which, often, is world changing.

Dr. Robert J. Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, was part of an international team that uncovered the source of the deadly contamination of the blood thinner, heparin, which had caused the deaths of more than 80 patients worldwide. Heparin is one of the most widely used drugs in American hospitals. The main source of heparin, currently, is the intestines of foreign livestock, where the risk of contamination is high.

Announced in April, and described in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the team uncovered a complex carbohydrate — oversulfated chondroitin sulfate — with a structure so similar to heparin that it was nearly undetectable.

Now, Dr. Linhardt’s Rensselaer research team have moved to the next step — creating synthetic heparin. Dr. Linhardt and Dr. Jian Liu at the University of North Carolina, discovered the “recipe” for synthetic heparin two years ago. In August, at the national conference of the American Chemical Society, Dr. Linhardt announced that his team has constructed minuscule carbohydrates into a purer, safer alternative — creating the first fully synthetic heparin, and the largest amount ever created in the laboratory.

With Dr. Linhardt’s discovery, a fully synthetic heparin can be created in a pharmaceutical manufacturing environment, giving drug manufacturers extreme control over the safety and purity of the product. He believes that within five years, it is possible that this drug could reach human clinical trials.

Dr. Linhardt’s work is but one example of the world-class, life-changing work of our faculty — in research and in teaching.

RPIAlert Emergency Notification System

While we are speaking of programs, I draw your attention to a campus safety program that affects all of us. It is the RPI Emergency Notification System. While we are proud of our excellent safety record, we continually strive to provide a secure environment for all who live, work, learn, and teach on our campuses.

Notably, we have implemented a mass communication system — RPIAlert — for the Troy and Hartford Rensselaer communities, allowing the Institute to communicate clearly and quickly during an emergency, and to provide critical safety information to students, faculty, staff, and parents, through cell phones, e-mail addresses, office phones, and other devices.

In addition, an audible alert system is being purchased and installed to provide siren and verbal messages over a loudspeaker system on the Troy campus. A Web site is the primary source of up-to-date information about emergency management. It will include information about RPIAlert, as well as links for enrolling in the system. Please make note of the address: http://alert.rpi.edu.

Tests of the system last week included notification of 9,661 people in the Troy and Hartford Rensselaer communities via a voice message. This slide shows the test data.

  • 4,991 (51.7%) were received by an answering machine
  • 4,542 (47.0%) received a live delivery
  • 128 (1.3%) could not be contacted by telephone

We are still working to ensure that the new system is implemented in conjunction with our existing security protocols. I encourage all members of the communities to get involved. Each of us has a role to play in ensuring the safety and security of all of us.

PLATFORMS

As we celebrate the opening of EMPAC, we continue our construction, renewal, and restoration program.

Phase 1 of the East Campus Athletic Village (ECAV) is in progress for completion in August of next year. The Phase 1 renovation of the north side of the Houston Field House, providing upgraded and expanded locker rooms, will be complete later this month.

The final phase of the five year effort to restore the exterior of West Hall is in progress, and the restoration work on the 8th Street entrance, including the West Hall Grand Stairs is now complete.

You probably are aware of the increased capacity in the student area of the Russell Sage Dining Hall — with the new exterior deck outside the 2nd Floor Banquet Room. The project added 4,400 square feet which enables space for an additional 200 seats for dining. The project was completed in partnership with Sodexho.

Neighborhood renewal continues with the demolition of 15 residential structures which could not economically be renovated and restored for adaptive reuse. We have established a new Institute Gateway at Peoples Avenue and Eighth Street. We will look to repurposing other properties we have acquired, as much as possible, as our activities grow.

UPCOMING EVENTS

There are a few events coming up of which you may want to take note:

High Performance Computation Conference

Later this month, Rensselaer will host a High Performance Computation Conference at EMPAC, entitled, “The Role of High Performance Computation in Economic Development.”

A technical program on October 22 and 23 will focus on the application and computational methods in areas such as biotechnology and healthcare, energy and the environment, and nano-materials and semiconductors. It will cover issues ranging from the computing and simulation technologies being developed, to a number of the key application areas of HPC, to the role of HPC in the development of new high technology businesses. A half-day Executive Summit Friday, October 24, will discuss the importance of advances in the application of high performance computation, and the connection to economic development.

Center for Architecture Science and Ecology

In November, we will publically announce a collaboration between the Rensselaer School of Architecture and the venerable architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM). This partnership, known as the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE), combines — very much in the spirit and intent of EMPAC — a right-brain emphasis on design and a left-brain focus on environmental sustainability.

CASE will engage in the innovation of systems and materials to shift building performance toward sustainable and energy self-sufficient models, bridging the gap between cutting-edge architectural design and technological experimentation. It will raise the profile of the Rensselaer School of Architecture, which will frame its graduate program in Built Ecologies around this initiative.

Like Rensselaer, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is a leader in innovation, with a long history of creating ecologically sustainable design.These include the 71-story Pearl River Tower in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, designed to harvest wind and solar energy, and 7 World Trade Center, the first Gold LEED certified commercial office building in New York City.

The Center for Architecture Science and Ecology will push the boundaries of environmental performance in building systems, and is expected to have a substantial impact on the energy-inefficient U.S. building sector, which accounts for more than one third of U.S. energy consumption and nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon production.

Baruch Center

The Baruch Center, being organized in the School of Science, will conduct research in solar bio-energy. Initially, it will focus on understanding the fundamental processes of biological conversion of solar energy into useable chemical energy and subsequently on modification of natural systems to enhance desired reactions or products. Key faculty involved in organizing and launching of the center include Dr. K.V. Lakshmi, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology,and Dr. Linda McGown, William Weightman Walker, Professor and Head of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

PILLAR OF RENSSELAER

We have spoken this morning of many achievements of the greatest of Rensselaer resources — its people.

There is one whom I would like to acknowledge, as an example for all of us. She is the recipient of the highest award presented annually to a Rensselaer staff member who understands the Institute’s mission and history, has been a role model for other employees, has shown concern for students and their welfare, has added to the human dimension of the school, and who has played an active role in his or her home community. She says has always been motivated to do good things for others — especially for the students at Rensselaer, but confesses she did not imagine being rewarded for it because “...that is just part of who I am.”

She is, of course, Jacqueline Farmer, a telecommunications analyst in the division of the chief information officer, an employee of Rensselaer for more than 20 years, one whom you see volunteering at nearly every Rensselaer event — always with a smile for everyone. She is the recipient of the 2008 Pillar of Rensselaer Award.

Please join me in congratulating Jackie Farmer.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

As this report demonstrates, the guidance of The Rensselaer Plan, has brought us outstanding accomplishments. We have invested in our campus facilities, built the strength of our faculty and staff, increased sponsored research, improved the student/faculty ratio, raised retention and graduation rates, witnessed significant increases in student quality at all levels, and lifted our national and international profile, while maintaining balanced budgets.

Our successes and achievements have won strong support from our Board of Trustees, and from our external constituents.

Our budget planning for the current fiscal year focused primarily on increased revenue generation, capitalizing on future and current investments in The Rensselaer Plan, and on providing a strong foundation to support our current commitments and continued investments. Our budget process for each Portfolio included the proviso that during the first quarter, we would continually review and monitor the forecasts, assess the critical areas, and make any necessary adjustments.

In light of the recent challenges in the world financial markets, we have determined that it is prudent to take proactive steps to weather the economic downturn. We must reduce expenses in preparation for a probable fall in revenues and recurring resources that historically have supported our activities. Therefore, at this time, it is necessary that we implement portfolio contingency plans (without layoffs), Institute-wide vacancy management (i.e., a hiring freeze), and attrition management.

In the upcoming performance planning cycle, each portfolio should focus on innovative methods, and restructuring, as appropriate, to cut costs to targeted levels, and to generate incremental revenue, while achieving the strategic objectives of The Rensselaer Plan.

Ultimately, we all share the same goals and responsibilities. Our mission is to provide a superb academic and living/learning experience for our students, enhance and increase the significance of our research, and increase our formidable presence, impact, and reputation globally.

Obviously, we are taking these measures to assure our future. And, interestingly, the investments we have made have placed us in a position better to withstand the economic downturn. We are positioning Rensselaer to be ahead of the game.

This is a watershed moment globally and nationally. It is a watershed moment for Rensselaer, as well. The new reality of Rensselaer is unfolding in the confluence of our brilliant students, our stellar faculty, our outstanding staff, our myriad exceptional research, teaching, and student life endeavors, and the potential that is embedded in our unique research and learning platforms.

Yet, we face challenges in a very difficult global fiscal environment. If we tighten our belts, work together, and work more efficiently, we will prevail and emerge from this period stronger, more focused, and more ready to change the world than ever.

We are “Rensselaer,” and we will overcome challenges. We will continue to exceed our goals. We will continue to achieve the outcomes reflected in The Rensselaer Plan. We will do so in a spirit of cooperation, and with a commitment to excellence, leadership, and community. Thank you for your generosity of spirit during these challenging, yet, auspicious times. I know that we can count upon each other.

I will be pleased to answer any questions.

Thank you.


Source citations are available from 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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