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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Rensselaer President Urges Quick Action on Innovation Agenda

February 2, 2006

Rensselaer President Urges Quick Action on Innovation Agenda

Institute to host forum on innovation and economic development Feb. 3

Troy, N.Y. — Following the State of the Union address by President George W. Bush, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson has urged Congress and the Administration to move quickly to enact a comprehensive, fully funded national innovation agenda. 

“President Bush’s ‘American Competitiveness Initiative,’ outlined in the State of the Union address, along with recent bipartisan congressional initiatives provides critical momentum for a new emphasis on innovation,” said President Jackson. “Leaders in every sector — business, academic, government — have called for a renewed national focus on the United States’ capacity to innovate. Now the Administration and the Congress must link the policy proposals to the budget, ensuring real investment in the components of an innovation agenda that are so critical to our nation’s economic and national security.”

President Jackson believes the components of a comprehensive innovation agenda must include: support for basic research across a broad disciplinary front, investment in enhanced K-12 science and mathematics education, and direct funding for students pursuing degrees in science and engineering at the undergraduate and graduate level. 

As a follow-up to the State of the Union address, Rensselaer is hosting a roundtable discussion on innovation and economic development, with the Honorable Sandy Baruah, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.  Capital Region business, academic, and community leaders will gather for a discussion of President Bush’s competitiveness agenda and innovation-led economic development. The forum will be held on Friday, Feb. 3, 2006, from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the auditorium of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer. 

Background: Addressing the Nation’s “Quiet Crisis”
Calling for a renewed national focus on science and technology, in a Jan. 25, 2006 open letter to President George W. Bush, President Jackson urged President Bush to use the State of the Union to outline a national agenda to “spark a legacy of innovation.” Jackson has long warned of what she calls the “Quiet Crisis” in America – the threat to our nation’s capacity to innovate due to the looming shortage in the nation’s science and technology workforce.  The shortfall results from a record number of retirements on the horizon, and not enough engineering, science and mathematics students in the pipeline to replace them. 

Over the last five years, President Jackson has urged a national conversation to generate the will for a national policy to address the “Quiet Crisis.”  She has been involved in developing the National Academies’ report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” and the Council on Competitiveness’s National Innovation Initiative, in addition to working with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and others to advance a national innovation agenda.

Jackson is chairman of the board and past president of the AAAS, former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

For a copy President Jackson’s Jan. 25 2006 letter to President Bush go to:

For information on the “Quiet Crisis” go to: 

For information on energy security go to:

Contact: Theresa Bourgeois
Phone: (518) 276-2840