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Making A Difference

Renaissance at Rensselaer: The Campaign

EMPAC to be named in honor of $40 million gift from Rensselaer Trustee Curtis Priem ’82

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On Friday, Sept. 10, at a gala celebration of accomplishments under The Rensselaer Plan, President Shirley Ann Jackson announced the launch of the largest capital campaign in Rensselaer’s history. Titled “Renaissance at Rensselaer: The Campaign for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,” the goal is to raise $1 billion to support the Rensselaer endowment, campus infrastructure, faculty, and students by the campaign’s end in 2008. To date, the effort has raised more than $600 million.

“Our moment has come,” declared President Jackson, standing in the Alumni Sports and Recreation Center surrounded by students and displays depicting Rensselaer research, curriculum, student life, and performing arts. Likening the transformation of the campus to that of the European Renaissance five centuries ago, she said, “Today we see on the horizon another dawn of discovery and innovation, one that will usher in an age of unprecedented technological achievement with vast potential to benefit humanity. If ever there were an age for Rensselaer to flourish, this is it.”

“The opportunity is ours to seize,” she continued. “This is our Rensselaer, ready to take its place among the handful of research universities that will shape the course of this century. Our course is set. Our moment is now. Our campaign has begun.”

Joining President Jackson on stage, Rensselaer Trustee Curtis Priem ’82 stepped forward to announce his family’s unrestricted gift of $40 million to Rensselaer. In recognition of this gift, Rensselaer will name its new arts facility, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, in their honor. In making the announcement, Priem spoke to all Rensselaer alumni and friends, saying, “The power to change Rensselaer — and through the university’s work, to change the world — is in your hands, in my hands, in our hands. And the time is now.”

Priem grew up with a love of music and the arts, as both his mother and sister are accomplished musicians. Priem enrolled in the first electronic music class at Rensselaer, taught by new music pioneer Neil Rolnick, where he developed music-generation software for the Rensselaer mainframe with a team of other students. He also played cello for four years in the Rensselaer Orchestra, and for the RPI Players orchestra.

Also at the gala, the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA) announced 100 percent participation from its board members in support of the campaign. The RAA is making its largest-ever gift commitment to support the expansion of East Campus athletic facilities. “This is a project that truly will benefit all Rensselaer students, and the RAA is pleased to be a partner in the effort,” said Dennis Powers ’63, RAA president.

Five years after President Jackson’s inaugural address, in which she outlined the elements of what would become The Rensselaer Plan, the Institute has made substantial progress toward its goal to become a top-tier, world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact. “What seemed an impossible dream for Rensselaer only five short years ago, today is a goal within reach,” said Samuel Heffner Jr. ’56, chairman of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees.

To continue the momentum and to elevate Rensselaer to the top tier of technological research universities requires a substantial new investment in its people and programs, as well as in key infrastructure. “The investment must be twofold,” said campaign co-chair Paul Severino ’69. “It requires major growth in endowment to provide capital for new initiatives and a foundation for future achievements. We also must increase annual operating support to maintain the superior education delivered to our students.”

Severino joins President Jackson and two other co-chairs, trustees Gary DiCamillo ’73 and Thomas Baruch ’60, to lead a campaign guided by the comprehensive strategy mapped out in The Rensselaer Plan.

With a clear set of funding priorities, the campaign aims to capitalize on the momentum generated by accomplishments so far. Just as Rensselaer Plan goals and objectives are distributed broadly across the Institute, so too are campaign funding goals.

Research and Learning: $500 million
The campaign’s greatest investment will be made where the potential return is greatest: in multi-disciplinary research and learning.

Biotechnology — Rensselaer will invest in the work of the new Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, where teams of faculty and students study at the intersection of the life sciences, information sciences, applied mathematics, engineering, and the physical and mathematical sciences.

Information technology — To maximize the impact of research, the campaign seeks support for three focal areas in information technology: future chips, multiscale computation, and pervasive computing. Rensselaer also is investing in crosscutting research on the social and economic implications of information technology, and on the intersections among electronic media, the arts, and the human mind.

Endowment for faculty — Rensselaer must raise endowed funds to compete globally for the very best faculty, and support the research of faculty at all levels, with particular attention to those making groundbreaking discoveries in critical research arenas.

Research infrastructure — To strengthen an environment that speeds research advances toward technology transfer and innovation, state-of-the-art facilities — such as the new Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center and the Center for Terahertz Research — are essential.

Student Support and Curriculum Development: $250 million
Investment in human capital assures that we have the talent and creativity to sustain our nation’s role as a leading player in an increasingly global marketplace. The campaign will seek greater investment in scholarship, fellowship, and curriculum support.

Scholarships — Recently admitted classes have been among the highest quality in Rensselaer’s history, with record numbers of women, minorities, and Rensselaer Medalists. Endowed scholarship support is especially critical in recruiting and retaining highly qualified students from diverse intellectual, geographic, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Fellowships — The growth of Rensselaer’s research agenda is matched by the equally dramatic growth of graduate programs, which are increasing in both size and quality. To continue to attract the best graduate students among men and women across the full range of geographic, economic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, Rensselaer seeks to raise a full complement of endowed fellowship funds.

Curriculum — Rensselaer seeks funds to review and strengthen its curriculum to build new bridges across the sciences, engineering, technology, and the arts so graduates will be prepared to think, to plan, to consider in context, to discern ethical implications, and to lead in the 21st century.

Essential Campus Platforms: $250 million
Rensselaer seeks to provide a breadth of experiences that encompasses everything from attractive housing to a rich mix of extracurricular and athletic opportunities. At the same time, we are making a bold move that strikes at the intersection of art and science, culture and technology.

Student life programs — Students deserve a quality living experience in everything from residence halls to recreation. New gifts will support renovating and upgrading housing throughout the campus, offer more opportunities for students to participate in the Rensselaer community, and build on existing community service, entrepreneurship, and leadership development programs.

Athletic programs and facilities — To support more than 5,000 students who play varsity, club, and intramural sports, and other growing programs in athletics and recreation, Rensselaer will seek support to upgrade playing fields and build new facilities: an athletic support facility and other new athletic venues and support spaces on the East Campus, including a natatorium, gymnasium, and a new field house for indoor track and field.

Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) — Due to open in 2007, EMPAC will host research and house dramatic performance spaces to showcase signature offerings in the electronic arts, including a concert hall with world-class acoustics, a state-of-the-art theater, black-box studios equipped for video and audio production, and artist-in-residence studios. The campaign is seeking funds to support the full spectrum of the center’s activities.

It has taken five years and much hard work to arrive at this moment. “The work of transforming Rensselaer belongs to those who are forward-looking and who embrace the spirit of the Renaissance — in other words, to all of us,” said President Jackson.

For more information on Renaissance at Rensselaer: The Campaign for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, contact Terri Cerveny, assistant vice president for development and alumni relations, at (518) 276-8016.

Photos by Stanley Blanchard

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