Executive Summary
The Rensselaer Plan 2024
Goal Fundamentals Undergraduate Education Graduate Education Research Communities Enabling Change Leadership


We will achieve our goal by embracing our fundamental values, identifying the key strengths on which we will build, and integrating our planning and action.

2.1 Rensselaer Today
Building on its storied legacy, under The Rensselaer Plan the Institute has transformed itself into a fully realized university that provides undergraduate and graduate education of undisputed intellectual rigor, with research impact and promise that extend to every continent.

The Schools of Architecture; Engineering; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; The Lally School of Management and Technology; and Science educate approximately 7,000 students—enrolling 5,300 undergraduates and approximately 1,250 graduate students in full-time programs on the Troy campus. Rensselaer at Hartford offers graduate programs for approximately 500 working professionals in engineering, business, and the management of science and technology.

During the life of The Rensselaer Plan, annual research funding has tripled, to $100 million. The Institute is a leader in interdisciplinary research, and has made strategic investments in important new and existing research arenas. Rensselaer has attracted outstanding faculty whose research programs represent a wide array of fields including nanoelectronics; information technology and Web science; computational science and engineering; business analytics; nanotechnology and advanced materials; biotechnology and the life sciences; environmental studies; lighting and acoustics; and media, arts, science, and technology. Our research programs are making an impact on the problems facing society. They are leading to pivotal academic advances, often with applications across multiple disciplines.

New curricula and programs have enriched the academic offerings at the Institute. Rensselaer has extended its distinction in interactive learning and the application of information and digital technologies to education.

2.2 Accomplishments Under The Rensselaer Plan, 2000-2012
The Rensselaer Plan brought an examination of the intellectual core in key disciplines and a restructuring of undergraduate and graduate offerings. To advance The Plan, we have focused on the development of people, programs, platforms, and partnerships. In the process, we have brought comprehensive change to every aspect of the Institute.

People: The Faculty
An exceptionally gifted professoriate—the very heart of educational excellence, and academic and scientific rigor—is drawn to Rensselaer by bright and motivated students, outstanding colleagues, supportive staff, advanced research facilities, and a culture that celebrates interdisciplinary inquiry. We have established 34 new named chairs, including 24 Constellation Professors. Over the course of The Rensselaer Plan, 275 faculty members have been hired, including outstanding early career people, helping to revitalize the faculty. Over the decade, the National Science Foundation has honored 53 of our early career faculty members with its prestigious Career Award.

Rensselaer faculty members are deeply engaged in discovery, knowledge creation, technological and business innovation, and creative design. Faculty members, well known for their forward-looking research and scholarship, welcome and encourage students as partners.

Today, Rensselaer is home to 421 full-time faculty, including 343 tenured and tenure-track faculty. As Rensselaer continues to build its faculty ranks, it has aggressively pursued greater representation of women and underrepresented minorities. We have developed systemic, university-wide approaches to advance and diversify faculty in academic engineering and science careers. The percentage of women faculty has risen from 15 percent to 21 percent, and underrepresented minority faculty from 4 percent to 7 percent. There is more to do.

People: The Students
Undergraduate admissions applications have grown dramatically, with a threefold increase compared to 12 years ago. Applications for full-time graduate study have reached their highest levels ever. We have raised undergraduate and graduate admission standards. The average SAT scores of our incoming undergraduate students have risen dramatically. The academic qualifications of our entering graduate students have risen sharply. We are more selective and, as a result, our student body is better equipped than ever before to succeed academically and professionally.

The ethnic and cultural, gender, intellectual, and geographic diversity of incoming students has increased. Twelve years ago, women made up 22 percent of the freshman class. Today, women represent 31 percent of all students. New policies designed to attract and retain female students are enabling women at Rensselaer to pursue their academic goals in a welcoming atmosphere. The attraction of underrepresented minorities to Rensselaer, who represent 10 percent of the student body, remains a challenge and is a key priority in The Rensselaer Plan 2024.

People: The Staff
Prominent academic and administrative leaders have been appointed to key positions. Administrative portfolios have been created, elevated, and restructured to facilitate the key enterprises of the Institute. Portfolio leaders have effectively managed the performance planning process initiated under The Rensselaer Plan.

Highly talented and dedicated staff are working together to improve administrative and service support for the educational, research, and student life dimensions of the Rensselaer experience. The staff has contributed to the vitality of the Institute by focusing on the highest priorities, by achieving new levels of efficiency through increased process integration and collaboration, and by offering creative solutions for more effective resource utilization.

Programs: Research and Scholarship
To invigorate research under The Rensselaer Plan, we have extended our focus and taken risks to move into new domains of significance at the intersections of disciplines.

We have invested in five Signature Research Thrusts: Biotechnology and the Life Sciences; Computational Science and Engineering; Media, Arts, Science, and Technology; Energy, Environment, and Smart Systems; and Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials—areas that intersect decisively with, and leverage, existing Rensselaer research excellence.

We have sought and hired scientific and engineering leaders to anchor research “Constellations”—multidisciplinary teams of senior and junior faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates—creating a nexus of intellectual and scientific capacity in key academic arenas.

To further bolster our research capabilities, focus, and impact, we have established new research centers that capitalize and expand upon our core strengths and focal areas, including energy research, lighting, stem cell research, the built environment, astrobiology, and social and cognitive networks. Out of these investments have come remarkable discoveries and innovations, including: understanding the structure of the Milky Way; unlocking the cell signaling and functional characteristics carried within polysaccharides; bioengineering synthetic heparin; creating the world’s darkest (most light absorbing) material; and developing sentient digital beings.

One significant result of our investments has been a threefold increase in sponsored research expenditures to $100 million per year.

Programs: Academics
Several new degree programs have been launched, including undergraduate degree programs in Cognitive Science; Electronic Arts; Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences; Design, Innovation, and Society; Sustainability Studies; Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology; Information Technology and Web Science; and a new management concentration in accounting. B.S./M.S. co-terminal programs have been added. The MBA curriculum has been revamped. The M.S. in management curriculum has been expanded to include Financial Engineering and Risk Analytics. A new MBA/M.S. in Law has been established in collaboration with Albany Law School. A new B.S. in Biomedical Engineering/M.D. has been launched with Albany Medical College. Several new Ph.D. programs have been initiated in Cognitive Science, Biochemistry/Biophysics, Architectural Sciences, and Electronic Arts.

Course work and extracurricular/co-curricular opportunities are more deliberately global in outlook, intellectually rigorous and sophisticated, and socially nuanced, creating an environment that promotes powerful, mind-opening new experiences, which foster intellectual agility and greater multicultural understanding.

Education in entrepreneurship is thriving across all schools and programs. We have created or enhanced the entrepreneurial content of more than 100 courses across all five schools. We have forged new curriculum tools, launched competitions, and generated flourishing undergraduate entrepreneurship research opportunities.

Our faculty, students, and staff actively embrace a culture of discovery, invention, innovation, and partnership. They discover, design, build, serve, and lead.

Because of the impact of our research, the talents of our faculty and staff, and the capabilities of our students, the Rensselaer degree is highly regarded. Our graduates are actively sought by industry, universities, and the public sector. They also create new wealth.

Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students (CLASS)

Programs: The Student Experience
Driven by The Rensselaer Plan, we have revitalized the student experience through the creation of a comprehensive living/learning approach.

The First-Year Experience (FYE) has transformed the transition of new students into Rensselaer. We have fostered a greater sense of community within the residence halls and off-campus living groups, enhanced support and counseling services, and streamlined student-focused administrative processes.

Indeed, the success of the First-Year Experience, and other initiatives, has given birth to a new living/learning paradigm: Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students (CLASS).

We have expanded cultural offerings by broadening our program of lectures, forums, music, and the arts, by bringing programs into the residence halls, and by identifying opportunities for civic engagement.

We have re-energized our international educational and research outreach. We have launched REACH (Rensselaer Education Across Cultural Horizons), which sends undergraduate students abroad, and we have created exchange agreements in 12 countries with 22 institutions. The result for our students is a stronger affinity and connection to Rensselaer, a greater emphasis on community and leadership, and a more holistic development of mind, body, and spirit.

The physical transformation of the Troy campus over the past decade has been the most externally visible sign of institutional metamorphosis. We have invested over $725 million to provide, enhance, enable, animate, and secure the platforms, facilities, and Institute physical infrastructure for the benefit of students, faculty, and staff.

We have built four transformative platforms to anchor and animate Rensselaer education, research, and the student living/learning environment. The East Campus Athletic Village (ECAV)—the most extensive athletic facilities project in Institute history—together with the Mueller Center, broadens and elevates the Rensselaer experience for our scholar-athletes, for all of our students, and for the greater Rensselaer community. Three platforms specifically invigorate research and scholarship: the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI), and the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC). Both ECAV and EMPAC are LEED-certified complexes.

Engaging in productive partnerships with academic institutions, industry, government, and other entities enhances Rensselaer and reinforces its impact. We have increased significantly our collaborations across all industry and academic sectors, particularly with major enterprises in our core research and academic focal areas. One such example is the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, our supercomputing center.

An Example of Strong Collaboration

2.3 Unique Strengths
Rensselaer was founded in 1824 “for the purpose of instructing persons ... in the application of science to the common purposes of life.” The people of Rensselaer have performed the research, developed the technologies, produced the innovations, and formed the enterprises that defined and accomplished the agendas of the 19th and 20th centuries. They continue to do so in the 21st century.

As Rensselaer moves toward its bicentennial, we will continue to build upon our unique strengths:

Interdisciplinary inquiry
Interactive learning
Innovation and entrepreneurship
Leading-edge platforms

Integrated effort has created The Rensselaer Plan. Integrated effort has moved us forward, and will continue to realize the vision articulated in The Plan.

We are a diverse community comprising a broad array of talents and perspectives. As we celebrate this diversity, we are united in pursuit of a common goal: greater prominence as a top-tier world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact.

2.4 Opportunity and Global Challenges
Our ability to educate the leaders of tomorrow, and to continue to have impact, requires attracting and retaining the best faculty, students, and staff. While we have realized extraordinary gains with limited resources, the gap between our aspirations and our means remains. To maintain access to a Rensselaer education for talented students, to continue the progress we have achieved in research and pedagogy, and to expand our national and international prominence, our endowment and financial support must grow to be comparable with other major research universities.

To strengthen the economic foundation of the Institute, and to enable Rensselaer to continue to attract and retain the best faculty, students, and staff, we must give even greater focus to philanthropy. While the Renaissance at Rensselaer Capital Campaign raised $1.4 billion to implement The Rensselaer Plan, we must embark upon a new campaign to secure the financial underpinning of the Institute for the 21st century.

The Rensselaer Plan 2024

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