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President of the Union/Grand Marshal Breakfast

“An Opportunity to Reconnect”

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

Rensselaer Union McNeil Room
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Good morning! It is my great pleasure to join President of the Union Gretchen Sileo, Grand Marshal Charles Carletta, and our Vice President for Student Life, Dr. Timothy Sams, in welcoming you to the closing breakfast of Rensselaer Family Weekend 2013.

We hope you found this weekend to be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with each other and to experience Rensselaer, together. These days so many of us rely on technology to stay in touch—whether that means videochats, texting, social media, or, occasionally, even an old-fashioned phone call. But as vital as technology is for keeping us connected, it cannot replace weekends such as this, when we actually can see one another and share experiences together offline, IRL—“in real life”—as they say.

And this weekend, there certainly were experiences to be had. From our Annual Fall Fest to our Adirondack Buffet Dinner, from cheering our student-athletes on the field and the ice, to cheering our student-performers on the stage, we hope we have kept you busy and entertained.

In addition to the activities that return every year by popular demand, we added a few new events this year. These included a demonstration of “energy efficient lighting systems that think” by the people at our Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center, and an event called Debating for Democracy, a high-energy interactive program designed to give political activists the tools to get their messages across.

One significant feature of Rensselaer—our Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students, or CLASS—provided a framework for the weekend. CLASS, which is designed to help students as they transition into and through their college years, focuses on six key areas of growth:

  • Personal development
  • Professional development
  • Leadership development
  • Cultural development & electronic media and the arts
  • Community
  • Communiversity—or being a good neighbor and supporting the City of Troy and the surrounding region.

Our events this weekend fell into one or more of these six growth areas. For example, our popular International Festival encourages cultural growth. A visit to the Troy Farmers Market represents “communiversity.” And the open house at our Center for Career and Professional Development is, of course, part of helping our students to grow professionally.

Whatever events you chose to attend, I hope this weekend gave you a glimpse of the more than 200 clubs and organizations run by our Student Union. They make an important contribution to CLASS by giving our students a rich array of opportunities to stretch themselves creatively, physically, and intellectually.

I would like to congratulate, again, those students who received awards yesterday at our Honors Convocation. Congratulations, also, to President of the Union Gretchen Sileo, Grand Marshal Chuck Carletta, and to the Office of the Student Experience and the Family Weekend Planning Committee for putting together such a successful and enjoyable weekend.

Although the weekend is drawing to a close, parents can continue to keep abreast of student life via the Parents of Rensselaer Association. The good news is: If you have an undergraduate here, you are already a member.

To our students, please stay involved. And remember to give your parents an old-fashioned phone call every once and a while. Trust me, they will appreciate it!

Enjoy the rest of the day. And for those of you who are traveling, I wish you a safe journey home.

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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