Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Board of Trustees Votes Unanimously To Appoint President Shirley Ann Jackson for 10 More Years

June 15, 2010

Board Cites Transformational Accomplishments Over the Last Decade

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The Rensselaer Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to invite President Shirley Ann Jackson to continue as president for another 10 years. In announcing the decision today, the Board noted historic and significant accomplishments over the last 11 years under The Rensselaer Plan, developed by the Rensselaer community under President Jackson’s leadership.

President Jackson has accepted the invitation of the Board.

“We look forward to another decade of further advancement of Rensselaer, in ways we can only begin to imagine as we forge ahead in the 21st century,” said Samuel F. Heffner, chairman of the Board of Trustees and a 1956 graduate of Rensselaer. “By any measure, this leading research institute has undergone a sweeping and unprecedented physical, programmatic, and educational transformation during the first 11 years of President Jackson’s leadership, and under her visionary and strategic Rensselaer Plan.

“The need to continue the transformation of this university, and to undertake new and important priorities — such as growing our endowment, launching a new phase of our fundraising program, building a new Center for Science, and continuing to transform the student experience — led the Board to take this important step,” Heffner added.

In voting unanimously to ask President Jackson to continue in her role for another decade, the Board noted the remarkable range of her accomplishments:

  • The development, launch, and implementation of The Rensselaer Plan. Designed to build on engineering and scientific accomplishments dating back to the early 19th century, the primary goal of the plan was to achieve greater prominence in the 21st century for Rensselaer as a top-tier world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact. With many of its goals achieved and celebrated last December, The Rensselaer Plan will evolve and will be adapted to continue shaping the Institute, its faculty, its research, its facilities, and the student experience as the Institute builds on the successes already achieved.
  • The launch and successful completion of the $1.4 billion Renaissance at Rensselaer campaign. This campaign included an anonymous, unrestricted gift of $360 million in March 2001 — the largest gift ever to any public or private university in the United States at the time. This campaign also included an unrestricted gift of $40 million from Rensselaer alumnus and Trustee Curtis R. Priem, and a $514 million in-kind contribution of software from PACE (Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education), a philanthropic initiative of General Motors, EDS, Sun Microsystems, and UGS Corporation, which reinforced our information technology infrastructure in very important ways, and was the basis for lifting the campaign goal from the initial $1 billion to $1.4 billion.
  • The ongoing recruitment and appointment of leading faculty and deans in critical areas, ranging from biotechnology to engineering to Web science. Of the 356 tenured and tenure-track faculty on campus as of the 2009-2010 school year, 244 were recruited under The Rensselaer Plan — including 74 in new positions. These include new Constellation professors, world-class scholars who lead critical new interdisciplinary programs in science and engineering. These Constellations consist of multidisciplinary teams of senior and early-career faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students.
  • The historic and unprecedented physical additions to the Troy campus, including the $92 million East Campus Athletic Village, the $200 million Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, the $100 million Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, and the $82 million Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. Overall, during the first 10 years of The Rensselaer Plan, the Institute invested $700 million in new construction as well as making significant renovations and improvements to existing buildings.
  • A swift rise in the Institute’s rankings as a leading, top-tier research university in the United States and the world. This includes the sustained rise of Rensselaer in the top 50 of U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of national universities. During the last 10 years, Rensselaer has risen steadily from being ranked 49th in 1999 to 42nd last year. Other more recent rankings include Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s “Best Business Programs by Specialty 2010” ranking of the Institute’s undergraduate program at the Lally School of Management & Technology as first in the area of “Top Schools for Strategy,” one of 12 areas analyzed by the annual study. Of the 139 programs analyzed in the Best Undergraduate Business Schools study, Lally at Rensselaer ranked 34th overall, up from 36th last year. In addition, The Princeton Review recently named Rensselaer as one of the nation’s most environmentally conscious colleges or universities, and ranked the Institute’s video game design program as fifth among the best programs in the United States.
  • An increase in research awards and expenditures from $37 million 10 years ago to $90 million today. Research awards and expenditures are continuing to grow at a rate of nearly 10 percent annually, and include a focus on important areas such as biotechnology.
  • Increasing the amount of financial aid available to students to a total of $89 million.
  • Continued increases in overall applications to Rensselaer, as well as the quality of students applying. More than 13,460 high school students applied to Rensselaer for a place in the fall 2010 freshman class — up 8.8 percent from the previous year. Sixty-six percent of the students enrolled for the class of 2014 were in the top 10 percent of their high school class, an increase of 5 percent from the previous year. In addition, the average verbal and math SAT score was 1,363, up from 1,354 a year earlier. Overall, applications are up 140 percent since 2005.

“In the last 10 years, we have witnessed under President’s Jackson’s leadership an unprecedented advancement of this Institute’s academic stature, its physical campus, and its ability to offer to our undergraduate and graduate students an education that prepares them best for the challenges they will face as leaders in the 21st century,” Heffner said. “Rensselaer now occupies a central place in the higher education community as the nation seeks new leaders to solve problems involving the environment, alternative energy, biotechnology and life sciences, and engineering the infrastructure of new Web-based networks we will need in the future.

“We must continue on this course,” Heffner added. “We look to President Jackson to maintain and build upon her leadership in important new initiatives, such as our new CLASS program for undergraduates, as well as building our endowment, leading and completing a new fundraising campaign, and completing new physical and educational facilities.”

About President Shirley Ann Jackson:
President Jackson became the 18th president of Rensselaer in 1999. She has held senior leadership positions in government, industry, research, and academe. A theoretical physicist, she was chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1995-1999). President Obama has appointed her to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Her research and policy focus includes energy security and the national capacity for innovation, including addressing the “Quiet Crisis” of looming gaps in the science, technology, and engineering workforce and reduced support for basic research. She is a vice chairman of the Council on Competitiveness and co-chairs its Energy Security, Innovation and Sustainability initiative. She is past president (2004) and chairman of the board (2005) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and AAAS. She serves on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, and on the Board of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a member of the Board of Directors of global companies including IBM and FedEx. Calling her a “national treasure,” the National Science Board selected her as its 2007 Vannevar Bush Award recipient for “a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education, and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy.”  Dr. Jackson holds a S.B. in physics and a Ph.D. in theoretical elementary particle physics, both from M.I.T.

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

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