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WelcomeFest Communiversity Event

“A Vibrant Neighborhood for A Great Education”

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

Riverfront Park, Troy, NY

Friday, August 23, 2013


Greetings to the Class of 2017!

Welcome to Rensselaer, to Troy, and to the Capital Region of New York State. You are now part of each of these wonderful communities. We hope you will feel right at home here.

Also here today to extend his welcome to you is The Honorable Lou Rosamilia, Mayor of Troy. You will hear from him shortly.

You have chosen an ideal time to join this vibrant city. Troy has been undergoing a true renaissance over the past few years, with many new businesses opening their doors here. In fact, Troy comprises the best of both worlds, in that it is a growing urban center, yet it retains a small-town ambiance. Troy is a true urban village, a "walking city" established when most people got around on foot.

And here is an interesting bit of trivia: Troy is the home of Uncle Sam. That is right! Our beloved national symbol, “Uncle Sam,” is named for one Samuel Wilson, who came to Troy on foot, all the way from New Hampshire, in 1789 at the age of 22, and became a successful meatpacker.  Sam Wilson supplied the United States Army with pork and beef during the War of 1812.  His workers joked that the initials on the meat barrels—U.S.—stood for Uncle Sam, and the two became synonymous.

Two hundred years later, Troy still abounds with food businesses. However, the current enterprises cater to an army of hungry students, rather than soldiers. If you have a midnight hankering for a burger, the cognoscenti recommend The Brown Bag on Fourth Street.  You might find, also, that Bombers Burrito Bar on King Street, which opened in June, is worth investigating.  And if sushi is more your style, the newly opened Japanica Grill at the new Rensselaer Graduate Community at City Station is an interesting possibility.

The vibrant food culture of Troy also includes the Troy Waterfront Farmer’s Market held every Saturday morning at Monument Square—utterly life-affirming and a way to learn about another aspect of the region, its magnificent agriculture.

You will find that Troy is a magnet for artists and musicians as well, and for technological entrepreneurs. In fact, you are right in the heart of Tech Valley, which extends from the Canadian border to just north of New York City.

Just across the river, to our West, is the capital city of New York State -- Albany.  If you love the great outdoors, there are tremendous opportunities to hike, bike, ski, and camp in the Berkshires and Green Mountains to the East, the Adirondacks to the North, and the Catskills to the South.

This week, you have been enjoying Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond, which has allowed you to explore the communities around Rensselaer. Let me emphasize the word “beyond”— because our goal is to help you feel at home not just on campus, but past its borders, too.

Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond is part of the Rensselaer First-Year Experience, which, in turn, is part of CLASS, or Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students. CLASS aims to provide you with a cohesive living/learning community that fosters your personal and professional growth.  Today, you have a Dean of the First Year Experience.  When you become sophomores, your class will be assigned a class dean who will be your advocate and guide, together with others, through senior year. And, as you have begun to experience, you are becoming part of tightly knit residential neighborhoods, or “Commons,” each anchored by a live-in Commons Dean, also here to support you.

CLASS focuses on six key growth opportunities, one of which is something we call “communiversity”—in other words, extending ourselves beyond our campus, applying your talents and resources to the world around us, and being a good neighbor to Troy and the Capital Region.

I look forward to getting to know each of you better in the coming years. In the meantime, it will be my great pleasure to greet you more formally this Sunday evening at the East Campus Athletic Village, at our First Year Convocation.

Until then, I offer my best wishes to all of you. And again, welcome to Troy!


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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