Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Board Extends President Jackson’s Contract

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson

December 20, 2018

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Board Extends President Jackson’s Contract

Board of Trustees extends contract until June 30, 2022

The Rensselaer Board of Trustees, at the November Board of Trustees meeting, unanimously agreed to extend the existing employment contract of President Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., through June 30, 2022. President Jackson has accepted the invitation from the Board.

In announcing the decision today, the Board noted historic and significant accomplishments over the last 20 years, under the strategic leadership of President Jackson, with the implementation of two strategic plans. The first Rensselaer Plan transformed the Institute and the current Rensselaer Plan 2024 will position Rensselaer as a transformative force in higher education and research. Last fall, Rensselaer launched a $1 billion capital campaign, and has raised over $450 million toward the $1 billion goal.

“We are extremely pleased to have retained such a dynamic, strategic leader and visionary for the past two decades in this highly competitive environment. We are especially proud of President Jackson’s outstanding accomplishments in advancing Rensselaer as a top-tier technological research university,” said Arthur Golden, chairman of the Board of Trustees and a 1966 graduate of Rensselaer. 

Rensselaer continues to be ranked among the Top 50 national universities by U.S. News & World Report; freshman applications have quadrupled to over 20,300; The Arch program, which includes an away experience for juniors, is being implemented; an Institute-wide Task Force charged with preserving Rensselaer’s fraternity and sorority system has been established; a $1 billion capital campaign has been launched; sponsored research expenditures have increased to $110 million; and 23 new academic degree programs have been established to strengthen the Rensselaer academic offerings.

About President Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.

The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., is the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the first technological research university in the United States, where she has led an extraordinary transformation since 1999. Described by Time magazine as “perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science,” Dr. Jackson has held senior leadership positions in academia, government, industry, and research. A theoretical physicist, Dr. Jackson holds an S.B. in Physics, and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics, both from MIT.

In September 2014, United States President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Jackson as Co-Chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, where she served until January 2017. Dr. Jackson also served on the U.S. Secretary of State International Security Advisory Board from 2011 to 2017, and the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board from 2013 to 2017. From 2009 to 2014, Dr. Jackson served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), and, as part of PCAST, was Co-Chair of the President’s Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC).

Before taking the helm at Rensselaer, Dr. Jackson was Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), from 1995 to 1999. At the NRC, Dr. Jackson conceived and promulgated risk- informed, performance-based regulation and created a new planning, budgeting, and performance management process (PBPM). During her tenure at the NRC, Dr. Jackson spearheaded the formation of the International Nuclear Regulators Association (INRA), and served as its Chairman from 1997 to 1999.

Dr. Jackson is a Life Member of the MIT Corporation, and a former Vice-Chair of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. In October 2017, she was named Regent Emerita of the Smithsonian Institution. She serves on the boards of major corporations that include FedEx, IBM, and Medtronic. She is a former member of the board of the World Economic Forum USA (WEF USA), and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr. Jackson is an international fellow of the British Royal Academy of Engineering, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of which she also served as past president. She holds 53 honorary doctoral degrees.

In 2018, Dr. Jackson was awarded the W.E.B. DuBois medal from the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. The medal honors those who have made significant contributions to African and African American history and culture, and more broadly, individuals who advocate for intercultural understanding and human rights in an increasingly global and interconnected world.

In 2007, describing her as “a national treasure,” the National Science Board selected Dr. Jackson as the recipient of the Vannevar Bush Award for “a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, public policy, and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy.”

In 2016, United States President Barack Obama awarded Dr. Jackson the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest honor in science and engineering.


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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