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Fields of dreams
“Athletics is a key element of the Undergraduate Plan, and creating new and better sports facilities for students is a high priority,” Knowles says. “When you consider that more than 4,000 Rensselaer students play varsity, club, and intramural sports each year, you can see our need for the update and expansion.”
Plans are being developed to build a new East Campus Athletic Village, a complex of buildings and spaces that will include a new football field with a 7,500-seat stadium, and a basketball gymnasium with seating for 2,000 that will also serve as a centralized location for all the athletics offices. Also part of the plan is to build an athletics support center that will have sports medicine and weight training facilities as well as multipurpose conference rooms, concessions, and lounges.
In addition, during the first phase of the plan the Houston Field House will be expanded to accommodate offices for women’s and men’s ice hockey as well as to provide room for athletics training facilities to support both programs. The first phase of this all-encompassing project is expected to begin next summer.
Later phases will include a 50-meter natatorium, a track-and-field facility with inside tennis courts, and eight outside tennis courts.
Supporting the renaissance
The campaign, titled Renaissance at Rensselaer: The Campaign for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has raised more than $660 million to date more than three times the amount raised in the last campaign that ended almost 10 years ago.
The campaign’s nucleus phase began in 2000. Less than a year later, the university received a landmark $360 million gift from an anonymous donor. The largest unrestricted gift on record, the donation constituted a powerful endorsement of the transformational goals of the plan.
Several alumni since have made their own significant contributions, including Rensselaer alumnus and Trustee Curtis Priem ’82, who pledged an unrestricted gift of $40 million to Rensselaer on the day of the public launch of the campaign in September 2004. In recognition of this gift, Rensselaer will name EMPAC in his honor. In addition, the Rensselaer Alumni Association has made its largest-ever gift commitment of $300,000 to support the expansion of athletics facilities.
The new face of Rensselaer
“There is no one ‘look’ in the future because if we are stagnant then we are not making the contributions that we intend to make,” Jackson says.
Jackson intended the plan to be “evergreen” a living document continually evolving and challenging the Institute to reach greater heights.
For example, early discussions referred to EMPAC as the “electronic media and performing arts center,” but as the understanding of the center evolved, “electronic” was replaced with “experimental” to include new domains of exploration in the nexus of the arts and technology.
The Institute also has invested heavily in emerging disciplines that did not exist just a few years ago, such as terahertz science and nanoelectronics. Rensselaer faculty are pioneers in these exciting new areas of science that hold enormous potential in biomedical imaging, genetics diagnostics, and microelectronics.
“We have been opportunistic as we’ve gone,” Jackson says. “But these things still derive from a fundamental desire to build out from strengths we have had all along.”
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