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The public face of Rensselaer is key to the campus experience. Rensselaer Campus
Rensselaer Campus

President's VIew

Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
An Environment for Living and Learning
The public face of Rensselaer — its physical facilities and infrastructure, and the grounds and landscaping — is a key factor in the quality of the student experience. It is what prospective students notice when they first visit.

Gorgeous landscaping now graces the Rensselaer Troy campus, as you will read in this issue. But beyond terrestrial beauty, the gracious vistas stand as living semaphores for the transformation of the university.

I share an excerpt of a letter I received from one of our newest alumni, Bryan Geiger ’06:

“As I sit here and watch the live broadcast of the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations press conference, I truly realize how much of a global impact and how powerful my education here at Rensselaer has become... Over the course of my four years (I) have seen so many positive changes, inside and out... I have had the opportunity to meet many great people here at RPI — ranging from trustees, vice presidents, and hall of fame inductees to the grounds crew and maintenance people that make this campus look great... The Rensselaer name and reputation will be with me my whole life; thank you for making it all worthwhile.”

Bryan’s sentiments on the “global impact” of his Rensselaer education resonate because they reflect the vision behind The Rensselaer Plan, which is to become a world-class university, with global reach and impact. The “many positive changes” which Bryan notes, including the efforts of those who “make this campus look great,” are part of achieving this goal.

A world-class university must provide a world-class environment for living and learning. The public face of Rensselaer — its physical facilities and infrastructure, and the grounds and landscaping — is a key factor in the quality of the student experience. It is what prospective students notice when they first visit. It is what connects them to Rensselaer for life, as proud alumni.

In fact, the truly breathtaking transformations on the Troy campus in recent years are the most significant Rensselaer has seen in a century. On Aug. 26, I was privileged to participate in yet another campus groundbreaking, for the new East Campus Athletic Village. Our expanded athletics facilities will greatly increase our national visibility, breathing new life into the campus and making existing facilities such as the Alumni Sports and Recreation Center available for other types of programs.

Phase 1 of the Athletic Village, which we expect will be completed in September 2009, includes a new 4,800-seat stadium for varsity football, soccer, and lacrosse, and for outdoor intramurals and club sports. Next door we are building a new basketball arena with bleacher seating for 1,200 spectators. In addition, we are renovating the Houston Field House to accommodate Division 1 ice hockey. Plans for Phase 2 include a natatorium, indoor track, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, an additional artificial turf field, and 3,000 more seats for the stadium.

More than 75 percent of our undergraduates currently participate in campus sports, and we have a legacy of athletic achievement dating back to 1883. The East Campus Athletic Village will further this tradition. It will enable us to become competitive on a national level and to raise the bar on an array of recreational sports for the students on our Troy campus. It is our intent to develop the mind, the body, and the spirit of each student—the whole person.

In similar fashion, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, or EMPAC, will amplify our reputation for excellence in the media and the arts, and build reputation in new fields. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2008, the 217,000-square-foot building will be home to a 1,200-seat concert hall, a 400-seat theater, two studios, rehearsal and dance spaces, four artists-in-residence studios, and several post-production studios. The building itself is a signature work of architecture, with concomitant care for the physical realities which underlie experimental performance art.

The unsurpassed facilities in EMPAC will provide a nexus for research, technology, and the arts. EMPAC will provide for creative exploration, for research in fields such as cognition, animation, visualization, and motion capture, and in fields of engineering and science which link to, or make use of, these fields, all while sending new artworks onto the global stage. The art and the research will stretch minds and imaginations, enabling new opportunities for interdisciplinary creativity and discovery. The building and its programs will offer artists, researchers, and audiences unsurpassed opportunities available nowhere else — all under one very dramatic roof.

These are but two of the newest facilities transforming Rensselaer. Essential brick-and-mortar achievements — and the lush foliage — reflect deeper transformations in the comprehensive Rensselaer education and research programs across academic disciplines, which offer students educational excellence and preparation for global leadership in their chosen fields. They are part of the glorious and bold Renaissance at Rensselaer.

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.