The public phase of our $1 billion capital campaign is under way. After the kickoff in September, Renaissance at Rensselaer: The Campaign for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is now being rolled out to alumni in cities across the country, in Asia, and beyond. This fall, in Hartford, Boston, and New York City, the campaign was highlighted at gatherings that featured distinguished speakers who took part in colloquia on a range of topics.
Called “An Extraordinary Evening of Conversation,” this program thus far has included such guests as Claire Fraser ’77, president and director of The Institute for Genomic Research and a member of the Rensselaer board of trustees; Peter Eio, the retired president of Lego Systems Inc.; IT strategy consultant Paul Cosgrave ’72; Trustee Thomas Baruch ’60, founder of CMEA Ventures, a leading venture capital firm based in San Francisco; and Trustee Paul Severino ’69, an investor and adviser to emerging technology companies and venture funds. (Please see the AlumServ Calendar for information on upcoming campaign events around the country.)
The purpose of this unprecedented campaign is to support key goals of The Rensselaer Plan, the Institute’s blueprint for transformation. The campaign is designed to support research, learning, and the transformation of the campus and campus life. Our pledge is to raise $1 billion for Rensselaer by the end of December 2008. Currently, our campaign total stands at $623 million, and rising.
The continued expansion of our research enterprise is crucial to the ability of Rensselaer to be a major player in discovery and innovation, which will contribute to global health, safety and security, and prosperity. With the opening, this fall, of the world-class Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Rensselaer has signaled its commitment to taking its place among the handful of research universities that will shape the course of this century. Our growing research presence is evident in the dramatic increase in research funding. For example, in fiscal year 1998, we received $37 million in research awards; in fiscal year 2004, that number grew to $90 million. Meanwhile, awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the primary funding source for research in the life sciences, stand at $24 million today, up from $400,000 three years ago.
Our ambitious research agenda also requires a significant investment in faculty. We thus far have enlivened our campus and our research program with 140 new tenured and tenure-track faculty over a four-year period 73 of these in entirely new positions. We must move forward to complete the constellations in our key areas of research, and continue to compete globally for the extraordinary faculty who will serve as teacher-scholars and groundbreaking researchers.
The campaign is a significant investment in the vigorous pursuit of learning at Rensselaer, which will help to ensure that our nation has the talent and creativity to sustain our role as a leader in an increasingly global marketplace. Specifically, this means that we must invest in scholarships, fellowships, and curriculum development so that we may attract and support the very best students who, in turn, will be at the forefront of this century’s great achievements.
As Rensselaer graduates are aware, the physical campus is an important component of the quality of student experience. The campaign will support the improvement and expansion of campus facilities and more robust campus life. This investment includes renovations to all freshman residence halls and rolling renovations of upper-class residence halls; upgraded classrooms, laboratories, and athletic facilities; enhanced student counseling services and support for students who need academic assistance; and the transformation of Academy Hall into an integrated student services center.
In addition, as I discussed in my column in the Summer 2004 issue, we are making a major investment in our athletic facilities on the east campus to support a popular athletics program that involves more than 5,000 students each year.
Our other major signature facility, EMPAC, currently is under construction on the west campus on the bluff overlooking the City of Troy. When completed in 2007, this unique facility will transform the quality of life at Rensselaer and will offer a place for students and the entire campus community to experience the intersection of the arts and technology.
The excitement is building for this campaign. In this period of extraordinary growth and dynamism at Rensselaer, we now possess a unique opportunity to continue the intellectual, social, cultural, and physical transformation which honors our institutional legacy as it propels this university forward into the future.
To learn more, I invite you to visit the campaign Web site, www.rpi.edu/campaign/.
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