Renew Rensselaer Status Update

Dear RPI Alumni,

As you may be aware, many additional adverse news stories about our alma mater have surfaced since we launched the Renew Rensselaer website in mid-January, including:

  • The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) cited RPI at the top of its list: “The 10 worst colleges for free speech.” FIRE also released a documentary video regarding the state of free speech at RPI.
  • The Academic Ranking of World Universities recently further down-graded RPI. This marks the third consecutive year in which RPI fell 100 places on this international list.
  • Students distributing literature in opposition to the administration were told to leave a public sidewalk by RPI public safety officers who claimed RPI had authority over the area due to “eminent domain.”
  • Individual alumni class treasuries have been consolidated into a single account under administrative control. This was done without alumni consent and without any historical accounting of how much each specific class has given or has available. Whether any alumni class has the ability to access or use those funds without the express consent of the administration remains unclear.
  • The ability of the students’ class councils to email their classmates has been revoked by the administration without explanation.
  • The administration provided one of the candidates for Director of the Rensselaer Union with the interview questions before the student committee’s interview took place, then denied this despite multiple witnesses coming forward.
  • letter penned by RPI Professor Dr. Chris Bystroff accusing non-donating alumni of bigotry was “appreciated” by Dr. Jackson and forwarded to all alumni by Vice President for Institute Advancement Graig Eastin. To add insult to injury, Eastin sent the email himself only after attempting to convince the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA) President to send it on behalf of the RAA. Not only has the administration made no effort to retract the statement or apologize for it, but Eastin went so far as to publicly assert knowing how the situation unfolded, if given the chance, he “would do the same thing.”

There have been some bright spots, however:

We also did some additional financial research we wish to share. We compared similarly sized private colleges and found that RPI was the only school with negative average net income, negative endowment change, asset/liability ratio below 2x, and endowment/liability ratio below 1x. RPI was also the only college on our list to be given a fiscal health grade of C by Forbes.

See our table for more details.

Our campaign to bring improved governance to the school is entering a new phase, and it’s imperative we inform as many alumni as possible about the Untold Story of RPI. A significant show of support gives us the best chance of convincing the Trustees to cut their losses and begin a discussion for adoption of the Renew Rensselaer Platform.

We want you to contact each and every alumnus you know and ask them to read the Untold Story on our website and to take action, including signing our Platform. Click below to share our findings via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email.

We will not relent until the Trustees acknowledge that the legions of disgruntled RPI alumni hold the key to the Institute’s long-term success. I speak on behalf of the Renew Rensselaer leadership when I say that we love RPI and want our alma mater to thrive; therefore, we cannot stand idly by in its time of need.
Thank you for your support, and please continue to spread our message far and wide. Together, we can Renew Rensselaer!
Bill Criss ’68, ’69G
Patroon of Rensselaer
78th President of the Union