More Than 1,900 Degrees To Be Awarded at 217th Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencement Ceremony

May 16, 2023


Beginning at 9:30 a.m. on May 20, 2023, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will award a total of 1,988 degrees — 152 doctoral degrees, 390 master’s degrees, and 1,446 bachelor’s degrees — to 1,957 students, some of whom have earned multiple degrees. Approximately 1,500 students will attend the ceremony.

Students in the Class of 2023 hail from 46 states, including New York, and 28 other nations, including Australia, Hong Kong, Italy, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe.

Of the undergraduate students receiving bachelor’s degrees, 18 earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Among them was Jacob Gardiner Harris, 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 at RPI and universities such as Columbia University, Stanford University, and Cornell University. Others will begin professional positions with companies such as Dow Jones, Rockstar Games, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pfizer, Volvo Group, Boston Children's Hospital, Edwards Lifesciences, Mastercard, Consigli, and WL Gore.

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 2022 was $78,600.

Each year, the graduating class presents the university with a unique class gift. This year, the Class of 2023 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.

Rensselaer President Martin A. Schmidt ’81, Ph.D., will preside over the 217th Commencement ceremony, which is his first as president. Class President Faizah Rabbye, who will receive a B.S. in electrical engineering with a dual degree in science, technology, and society, and Neha Keshan, who is graduating with a Ph.D. in computer science, will also address the graduates.

Dr. Shayla Sawyer, professor of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering and director of the Douglis A. Mercer ’77 Innovation and Exploration Laboratory (The Mercer XLab), 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.

Ge Wang, the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Chair of Engineering and director of the Biomedical Imaging Center, 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.

Honorands Dr. Marilyn Simons and Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic will speak at Commencement. Dr. Simons is co-founder of the Simons Foundation and co-chair of its board of trustees. The Simons Foundation is one of the most important philanthropic organizations funding research in basic science and mathematics in the United States. Dr. Simons is a philanthropist focused on funding basic science research. Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic is University Professor and Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. She has done groundbreaking work in tissue engineering, both for regenerative medicine and for drug testing customized to the patient. Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic is the first engineer to receive the highest academic rank at Columbia University of University Professor. She is also the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Medical Sciences, and Dental Medicine. Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic directs the Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, the NIH Tissue Engineering Resource Center, and Columbia’s Center for Dental and Craniofacial Research.

The Commencement Colloquium, Against All Odds: The Power of Passion and Persistence, will feature the honorands and two faculty members at 3:30 p.m. on May 19 at EMPAC. This all-female panel will feature four dynamic and successful women in philanthropy and STEM who will share the power of passion and persistence in making the best of the hand you are dealt. While attendance at Colloquium is limited to those who registered in advance, the event will be livestreamed.

Please Note: All numbers and facts include Troy and Hartford campus students and degrees issued in August and December 2022. All of the numbers cited are accurate as of May 2, 2023, and are subject to change up until Commencement day.

Media is invited to attend the Commencement Colloquium as well as Commencement Ceremonies. RSVP is required to Interviews with President Schmidt, graduates and their families, and the Commencement honorands may be coordinated upon request.

Written By Katie Malatino
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