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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

An Overview of Rensselaer's 200th Commencement

May 19, 2006

An Overview of Rensselaer's 200th Commencement

Troy, N.Y. — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will hold its 200th Commencement on Saturday, May 20, 2006, at 9:30 a.m. on the Harkness Field, where approximately 1,300 students will be awarded their degrees. During the ceremony, Rensselaer will award 928 bachelor’s degrees, 286 master’s degrees, and 98 doctoral degrees.

Honorary Degree Recipients
The Institute will confer an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws to General Wesley K. Clark, U.S. Army Retired, who will deliver the 2006 Commencement address. General Clark is CEO of Wesley K. Clark & Associates, a strategic advisory and consulting firm. He is one of the nation’s most distinguished retired military officers and was a U.S. presidential candidate in 2004. Peter Bohlin ’58, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects who received his architecture degree from Rensselaer, will be awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts. Bohlin is a founding principal of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, with offices in Wilkes-Barre (Penn.), Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Seattle, and San Francisco. The firm, whose work has been honored with more than 300 design awards since its inception in 1965, teamed with Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann to design Rensselaer’s Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. Santiago Calatrava will be awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts. The world-renowned architect is the founding principal of the firm Santiago Calatrava, with offices in Zurich (Switzerland) and Valencia (Spain). His most recent commissions include designing the Permanent World Trade Center PATH Terminal, a $2 billion transportation hub to be located on the hallowed ground of the World Trade Center complex, which was destroyed in the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Frederick W. Smith, FedEx Corporation chairman, president, and CEO, will be awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.

A Rare Honor — The Trustee Medal
Rensselaer also will honor David Haviland ’64, who retired in December 2005 after 40 years of service to the Institute. He will receive the Trustee Medal, a rare honor bestowed on only one other member of the Rensselaer community in the history of the Institute. Haviland arrived at Rensselaer in 1960 as a student and held the titles of professor, associate dean, dean of architecture, research center director, vice president for student life, and vice president for institute advancement. At the December 2005 meeting of the Board of Trustees, Haviland was cited for his service “as a student leader, a beloved professor and mentor, a trusted administrator, counselor, friend, and true son of Rensselaer.”

A Global Community
Graduating students this year come from 42 states and the District of Columbia in the United States as well as 31 other nations including: Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Turkey, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico.

Making the — Perfect — Grade
A perfect 4.0 grade-point average was earned by 30 of the 928 students receiving bachelor’s degrees from Rensselaer this year.

Student Service, Leadership, Scholarship Honored
At the May 16 Senior Banquet, four graduating seniors were honored for their contributions to the Institute. The Willie Stanton Award, presented to the senior(s) judged to have contributed the most in service to the student body, was awarded to Matt Ezovski, a  dual major in electrical engineering and computer and systems engineering, from Slatersville, R.I., and Kerrissa Lynch, a computer and systems engineering major from Orange, N.J. The Livingston W. Houston Citizenship Award, honoring the “first citizen of the college,” ranking high in character, leadership, scholarship, and athletic ability, was awarded to Grant Cochran, a biomedical engineering major and member of the ROTC, from Kent, Wash. The Leopold L. Balleisen Prize, honoring a senior student athlete who has won a varsity letter in at least one sport during two undergraduate years and who stands highest academically in the senior class, was awarded to John Evans, an applied mathematics major from Cicero, N.Y.

Parting Gift
Each year at Commencement, the graduating class presents the university with a gift. The Class of 2006 will donate nearly $7,000 toward a landscaping project in the Commons Quadrangle, off Burdett Avenue, that was initiated by the Class of 2005 gift. The project includes a waterfall, a new brick wall and brick walkway, and additional shrubbery and trees. Last year’s class dedicated the project to David Haviland ’64 and his wife, Katie Haviland, who have been an integral part of Rensselaer for nearly four decades 

All in the Family 
Fifty-five members of the Class of 2006 are Rensselaer “legacies,” students with relatives who attended the university. As the final of six brothers to attend the Institute, Grant Cochran’s graduation this year marks the end of a 15-year family dynasty at Rensselaer. Following in the footsteps of older brothers Andy ’95, Chris ’98, Dan ’99, Evan ’02, and Flynn ’04, the Kent, Wash., native who majored in biomedical engineering enrolled at Rensselaer in 2000.

Number of Commencement Exercises — Why 200?
During World War II, Rensselaer established an accelerated academic year, with three terms of 16 weeks each. The four-year curriculum was replaced with one of only two-and-two-thirds years, with new classes beginning three times yearly. Commencement exercises were held a number of times throughout the year — students graduated whenever they had completed academic requirements. Also, for a time in the 1980s, a December graduation was held, which was counted among the total Commencement exercises.

*All numbers cited are as of May 17, 2006, and are subject to change.

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


Reeve Hamilton
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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, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 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.