Dear RPI Communities,
I assume that by now you have all seen Dr. Jackson’s announcement of her intention to retire as President of Rensselaer at the end of next June, 2022.
I write to express my deep personal admiration and gratitude, and that of the other Trustees, to her and for what she has done for RPI these past 22 years. It has been my privilege to work with her for 16 of those years – the past five as Chair of the Board of Trustees.
I recognize that my words can never suffice to thank her adequately for her leadership, vision, tireless efforts, and accomplishments during that time - one of the longest tenures of any modern university president. But most of all, I salute her for the empathy she has always shown for our students and their welfare, and the important changes she has brought about to improve and elevate the Rensselaer student experience.
In 1999, the Board of Trustees had the good judgement to recruit the Chairwoman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Shirley Ann Jackson, to be the 18th President of Rensselaer. Dr. Jackson hit the ground running, and has never stopped, as she set about to renovate and revolutionize the nation’s oldest technological university. Under her leadership the campus has been refreshed and in major ways rebuilt, 25 new degree programs were added, significant new faculty joined RPI, and the number of students seeking to attend RPI more than tripled. She had the vision and courage to concentrate our efforts in key signature research thrusts - such as biotechnology, computational innovation, and nanotechnology - which would become of ever increasing importance to our students, our faculty, the University, the country, and the world.
We were not alone in recognizing the many talents of this exceptional woman. In addition to the degrees she earned at her alma mater, MIT, 55 other universities have awarded her honorary degrees, and President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Science. She has served as a director of major business organizations - including IBM, FedEx, Medtronic, and the New York Stock Exchange - demonstrating her superb business acumen and leadership ability, which she has perhaps best exhibited by leading us flawlessly through the COVID crisis this past year and a half.
So now, as we enter the final year of her remarkable tenure, I ask that we all take a moment to reflect and appreciate our good fortune in having had Shirley Ann Jackson as our President for the past two decades, and dedicate our efforts for the coming year, and thereafter, to honor her by continuing on the path and trajectory she has set for RPI.
Arthur F. Golden '66, Chair, Board of Trustees