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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencement Speaker and Honorands Announced

March 17, 2010

2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencement Speaker and Honorands Announced

Peter R. Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget in President Obama’s Administration, To Deliver Commencement Address May 29

Robert S. Langer photo credit: Stu Rosner Photography

Peter R. Orszag, one of the nation’s leading economists and director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, will deliver the Commencement address at the 2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencement on Saturday, May 29. The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. at the East Campus Athletic Village on the Rensselaer campus. Orszag will receive an honorary degree, along with fellow honorands Robert S. Langer, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Harold E. Varmus.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to honor these four distinguished leaders,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “They will bring to our graduates and their families at Commencement noteworthy accomplishments in the diverse and critically important fields of economics and finance, biotechnology, astrophysics, and physiology and medicine.”

President Jackson said Orszag, the Commencement speaker, will deliver a timely and substantive message to the graduates and their families.

“Leading the OMB is a crucial responsibility under any circumstances, but Dr. Orszag plays an especially important role during our current turbulent economic times,” she said. “His work as Director of the OMB has a direct impact on the present financial status of the nation, as well as on our future prospects for financial recovery and a return to economic prosperity. In addition to his public service work in the government, he is a distinguished scholar in the study of economics and finance.”

The honorands:

Peter R. Orszag — A former director of the Congressional Budget Office, he also served as Joseph A. Pechman Senior Fellow and deputy director of economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

Robert S. Langer — A leader in biotechnology, he currently serves as David H. Koch Institute Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Neil deGrasse Tyson — A renowned astrophysicist, he currently serves as Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Harold E. Varmus — Currently serves as president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1989.

Colloquy — Re-Igniting the Innovation Economy: Science and Technology
On the eve of Commencement, Rensselaer will convene the 2010 President’s Commencement Colloquy, Re-Igniting the Innovation Economy: Science and Technology. The four honorands will join President Jackson to discuss the topic.

“Through their work, our honorands are shaping the national agenda on scientific discovery and technological innovation,” President Jackson said. “The question is, coming out of the current recession, what are the essential components to re-ignite the innovation economy? We are at a crossroads, where decisions and investments we make today must lay the foundation for our economic strength and global leadership. During the colloquy, we will look back, to examine what sparked the innovation revolution that has fueled our economy for generations. We will look outward, at the current state of collaboration among business, academia, and government essential to support a healthy innovation ecosystem. And, we will look forward, to see how, by removing barriers to creating new approaches, we can power our economy and uplift society as a whole.”

The colloquy will be held in the Concert Hall of the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, on the Rensselaer campus, beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 28.

For more details on Commencement, go to

Contact: Mark Marchand
Phone: (518) 276-6098