Rensselaer Receives $360 Million Gift

March 12, 2001

Anonymous Donor Almost Triples Gift to the Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has obtained a gift of $360 million, the largest gift ever to any public or private university in the United States.

In an extraordinary demonstration of support, the anonymous donor who pledged $130 million to the Institute in December 2000 now has replaced the earlier gift with one almost triple in size, and given Rensselaer complete discretion in its use.

The gift will galvanize the Institute’s plan to more than double its research activity and its graduate enrollment in the next five years by creating new programs in biotechnology and information technology as well as to undertake a number of additional strategic initiatives.

“A gift of this magnitude, offered to the university fully unrestricted, is unprecedented,” said Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson. “The remarkable generosity of this donor will enable Rensselaer to move boldly into new arenas that are vital for society.

”Biotechnology and information technology already have exerted a transformational impact on society,“ said President Jackson. ”The even more dramatic advances that lie ahead will revolutionize the practice of medicine, extend the human life span, and shrink our world through ubiquitous, tetherless communications. This extraordinary gift will enable Rensselaer to play a leading role in enabling society to reap the still unimagined benefits of these exciting technologies.“

In making the new gift, the anonymous donor replaced the earlier commitment with a new, unrestricted pledge of $360 million. The earlier gift was directed toward the construction of two major facilities: The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center. The new gift is unrestricted.

”In extending this new gift, our donor expressed the desire to increase support to Rensselaer, and to make an even bolder gesture in support of the Rensselaer Plan and its ambitious goals to advance the position of the Institute as a world-class technological research university,“ President Jackson said. ”With this new gift, the donor carries out an intention to provide sustained support and make it available to an unlimited array of initiatives. On behalf of Rensselaer, I express my gratitude for this donor’s singular, heartfelt, and visionary commitment.“

The Rensselaer Plan, the strategic plan for the Institute, was launched by President Jackson shortly after her inauguration in the fall of 1999, and approved by the trustees just nine months later, in May 2000. As its single most dramatic goal, the Rensselaer Plan calls for building research programs of world-class standing in selected areas of promise in biotechnology and information technology. The comprehensive research goal calls for more than doubling research activity over a five-year span, doubling the size of the graduate school, and developing robust programs in additional research arenas. In addition to research initiatives, the priorities for the first year of the plan also include programs to enhance the student experience and campus life, and to grow and enhance faculty.

Rensselaer has chosen four focal areas in which to build new programs in biotechnology: functional tissue engineering, integrative systems biology, biocomputation and bioinformatics, and biotcatalysis and metabolic engineering.

In one of these areas, functional tissue engineering, the research effort encompasses the integrated study of the full range of fundamental scientific principles that govern living tissue — for the purpose of understanding how to guide the development of natural and artificial tissues that would be applied for a variety of therapeutic and clinical purposes.

On the application level, this work would enable the synthesis of artificial or natural materials that could augment or substitute for damaged skin, organs, joints or other poorly functioning tissue in living organisms.

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

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