Renaissance at Rensselaer: The Campaign
EMPAC to be named in honor of $40 million gift from Rensselaer Trustee Curtis Priem ’82
“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.
• 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.
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