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Remarks at the Annual Memorial Service for Faculty and Staff

Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Annual Memorial Service for Faculty and Staff
Chapel and Cultural Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Thank you, Father Ed.

It is a privilege to participate in this service, and to join in honoring members of the Rensselaer community who have left us during the past year.

This year we come together to honor faculty and staff and retirees in one, unified, memorial service. This is an important expression of community and common purpose, uniting us with each other, and with the past and future of this great university.

I wish to thank the Pillars of Rensselaer and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee for planning this service, and for providing us with this opportunity to recall and to celebrate the lives of dear friends and colleagues.

I, especially, wish to welcome the families of the men and women we remember, today. Thank you for being here, and, thank you for sharing your loved ones with us.

The ancient Egyptians believed that the heart — not the brain — was the center of intelligence and wisdom. We may have come a long way in understanding the workings of our bodies, but the ancients may have understood, at least as well as we, the true essence of humanity and human institutions. Our hearts ache for those we have lost, and our hearts tell us that these lives are a precious legacy.

A great university is not bricks or computers or laboratories. The heart and soul of the university are its people. It is they who give meaning and purpose to our work, and who, one by one, make us who we are.

Although they are no longer with us, the colleagues whose lives we celebrate today have left indelible markings upon our lives, upon the lives of the students we serve, and upon the character of the university, of which we are all a part.

They were our co-workers, our mentors, our friends. These men and women led us into new realms of understanding. They prodded and encouraged us, and they opened our eyes to new opportunities. Their friendship brought us joy, and our memory of them will enrich us forever.

Each of the candles we light today represents one life — a life that in its own unique way helped to make Rensselaer what it is today. All of the candles burning together are a powerful reminder of the light and warmth generated by many lives working to one purpose.

And so, today, we recall with joy and gratitude the lives of these men and women who have helped define us as individuals and as Rensselaer.

Thank you.

Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.

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