Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Celebrates 190th Anniversary of Founding Letter


Contact: Media Relations

October 31, 2014

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Celebrates 190th Anniversary of Founding Letter

Annual Founders Day Event To Include Tree-Lighting Ceremony, Video Premiere

Troy, N.Y. – The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute community will gather November 5, to commemorate the founding of the Institute in a celebration that will include the annual weR Bright tree-lighting ceremony and the premiere of a crowdsourced video featuring alumni and students.

November 5 is the 190th anniversary of a letter written by Institute founder Stephen Van Rensselaer announcing the formation of a new school and declaring his intent to educate students “in the application of science to the common purposes of life.” With that letter, the school that would come to be known as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was born. Today, Rensselaer is a world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact, and the oldest technological research university in the United States. This year’s celebration marks the 190th anniversary of the founding and is part of a decade-long series of celebrations marking a bridge to the Institute’s bicentennial in 2024.

In celebration of the Institute’s rich history, members of the Rensselaer community are invited to an event beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, on ’86 Field and sponsored in part by weR, a student organization supported by the Rensselaer Alumni Association with a mission to build a strong community of students and alumni around the Institute’s unique traditions. Every winter, weR Bright lights up the trees along ’86 Field. This year the switch will be flipped to light the trees on November 5, earlier than ever, and the event will feature more lights, all of which are environmentally friendly LEDs. 

“weR is very excited to continue our lively tradition of placing lights on campus around the ’86 field, especially in conjunction with this year’s celebration of Founders Day. These lights bring additional brightness and a sense of warmth to the Rensselaer community during the long winter months,” said Soraya Fouladi ’16, weR’s chief visionary.

After the lights are turned on, a Founders Day video will premiere for which alumni and students were posed the question: How has Rensselaer changed your world? Their answers to that question were compiled in person and via social media.

The event will conclude with a performance by campus a cappella groups and refreshments.


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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, over 30 research centers, more than 140 academic programs including 25 new programs, and a dynamic community made up of over 6,800 students and 104,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include upwards of 155 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. To learn more, please visit