More Than 2,000 Degrees To Be Awarded at 216th Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencement Ceremony

Facts, figures, and useful information provided in overview of Commencement 2022

May 20, 2022


This spring, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the first technological research university in the United States, will award a total of 2,063 degrees — 119 doctoral degrees, 425 master’s degrees, and 1,519 bachelor’s degrees — to 2,033 students, some of whom have earned multiple degrees.

These accomplishments will be celebrated during the 216th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 21, beginning at 8:15 a.m. in the East Campus Athletic Village stadium on the Rensselaer campus.

In addition to the in-person ceremony, the event will be live-streamed, and those on campus or watching remotely are encouraged to download signs and other creative assets from the Commencement website that can add to their celebrations.

The following overview provides facts, figures, and useful information about the ceremony and its participants.

The Class of 2022

Students in the Class of 2022 hail from 46 states, including New York, and 31 other nations, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, and Nepal.

Of the undergraduate students receiving bachelor’s degrees, more than 20 earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Among them was Esther Weyer, who will receive the J. Erik Jonsson Prize, which was established by J. Erik Jonsson ’22 to honor the senior who has achieved the highest academic record in the class.

Many graduates will continue their studies after graduation. Among the schools that graduates will be attending are John Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Toronto, Georgia Institute of Technology, and, of course, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Those graduates heading directly to professional positions will be joining such companies as Morgan Stanley, United Airlines, Argonne National Laboratory, Exponent Inc., and Baker Hughes. 

Rensselaer graduates continue to enjoy overall higher starting salaries compared to national averages. Last year, the average starting salary for all reported undergraduate bachelor’s degree candidates from the Class of 2021 was $77,542.

Each year, the graduating class presents the university with a unique class gift. This year, the Class of 2022 has chosen to support the Student Relief Fund. The Student Relief Fund is an emergency fund for Rensselaer students who face financial hardship that threatens their academic progress during their time at Rensselaer.

To view profiles of our graduates, visit our Every Day Matters Research and Discovery Blog.

The 216th Commencement Ceremony

Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson, whose accomplished career encompasses senior leadership positions in academia, government, and industry, will preside over her last commencement ceremony as President, and address the Class of 2022. President Jackson will be retiring after a 23-year tenure at the helm of the Institute.

During the Commencement ceremony, Class President Chevy Chen, an industrial and management engineering major, will also address the graduates. The graduate student speaker will be Jacqueline F. Pelham, who is graduating with a doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics.

Bruce Piper, Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences in the School of Science, has been selected as the recipient of the David M. Darrin ’40 Counseling Award. This award was established by David M. Darrin ’40 to recognize a faculty member who has made an unusual contribution in the counseling of undergraduate students. The selection of the award recipient is made by Phalanx, Rensselaer’s student leadership honorary society.

Deepak Vashishth, Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, has been selected as the recipient of the William H. Wiley 1866 Distinguished Faculty Award. This award was established by Edward P. Hamilton ’07 to recognize a faculty member for excellence in teaching, productive research, and interest in the totality of the educational process. The selection of the award recipient is made by the Faculty Committee on Honors by nomination of the faculty.

The following honorands will participate in and be recognized at the ceremony:

Dr. Francis S. Collins is Acting Science Advisor to President Joe Biden. Dr. Collins helps steer the Administration’s plans and programs to advance scientific solutions to humanity’s needs, especially for health issues. He is a senior investigator in the intramural program of the National Human Genome Research Institute and previously served as the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project. Photo is available.

Dr. Richard N. Haass is President of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has served in his role as President for the past 19 years. The council is an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to being a resource to help people better understand the world, and foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Prior to his current position, Dr. Haass was director of policy and planning for the U.S. Department of State, and was principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He has served the U.S. government in a number of other capacities including with the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense. In 2013, he served as the chair of the multiparty negotiations in Northern Ireland that provided the foundation for the 2014 Stormont House Agreement. For his efforts to promote peace and conflict resolution, he received the 2013 Tipperary International Peace Award. Dr. Haass is a veteran diplomat, and a prominent voice on American foreign policy.

The grand tradition of the President’s Commencement Colloquy — a lively and thought-provoking panel discussion with the honorands moderated by President Jackson — will be held at 3:30 p.m. on May 20, 2022, and the theme for the discussion will be “Intersecting Vulnerabilities with Cascading Consequences.” While attendance at Colloquy is limited to those who registered in advance, the event will be live-streamed.

Please Note: All numbers and facts include Troy and Hartford campus students and degrees issued in August and December 2021. All of the numbers cited are accurate as of May 19, 2022, and are subject to change up until Commencement.

Media is invited to attend the President’s Commencement Colloquy as well as Commencement Ceremonies but must RSVP to  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 upward 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

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