Developments at RPI

Dear RPI Alumni,

Renew Rensselaer is a group of RPI alumni concerned with the current state of affairs at our alma mater. Over the past two years, we have conducted extensive research and analysis–detailed on our website under “The Untold Story.” The information analyzed led us to conclude that the Rensselaer Plan has failed to meet its goals, in addition to negatively affecting key metrics related to financial and academic matters. Some of the alarming trends we uncovered include:

  • The increase in debt, decline in net asset value, lack of endowment growth, and other present and historical financial challenges facing Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute;
  • The decline in the Institute’s academic standing and rankings;
  • The need for the RPI Board of Trustees to adopt nationally recognized standards for academic governance;
  • The decimation of the master’s degree programs, including the termination of the Distance Learning Program;
  • The continuing decline in alumni giving;
  • The poor capital investment decisions and their impact on current campus operations;
  • The many attempts by the administration to curtail the rich and highly successful history of student self-governance via the Rensselaer Union;
  • The culture of fear engendered among the faculty, staff, and students by the administration, and;
  • The failure of the administration to communicate truthfully with alumni as to the current state of health, or lack thereof, of the Institute.

The mission of Renew Rensselaer is to improve the governance, leadership, financial condition, and academic standing of RPI while better aligning its core constituencies–alumni, trustees, administration, faculty, staff, and students–toward the singular purpose of re­establishing RPI’s excellence in technological education. With this in mind, we developed a Platform, for which we seek adoption by RPI’s Board of Trustees. To date, nearly 1,000 alumni have signed our Platform and committed to offer support to RPI if it is implemented.

Earlier this year, we attempted to engage the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA) in our efforts to spread awareness about the current state of affairs at RPI. We contacted the RAA’s president, requesting to give a short presentation to the RAA Board at either of two regularly scheduled meetings in 2018. The RAA’s president responded to us with significant resistance, leading us to launch a formal Petition that called for a Special Meeting, in accordance with the RAA’s Bylaws, with the purpose of Renew Rensselaer presenting its findings. After the Petition secured the necessary signatures, the RAA president delayed scheduling the meeting for several months with the specific purpose of allowing the RPI administration to determine a meeting date and time they could attend and thus engage us in debate.

After many weeks of waiting for the administration to schedule the Special Meeting, we suggested it be held during the weekend of Reunion & Homecoming (R&HC) 2018 to maximize and simplify attendance for alumni. Instead, the RAA chose to ignore its Bylaws and is allowing the administration to hold a “Town Hall” type meeting after R&HC, on a federal holiday, at 8:30 am–surely a tactic designed to minimize alumni attendance and turn the meeting into a public relations showcase for the administration.

It is clear from the Special Meeting notice recently sent to alumni and our subsequent communication with the RAA president that the RAA will not adhere to its Bylaws; namely, that the meeting will not follow its intended purpose as cited in the Petition, Renew Rensselaer will not be granted time to present its findings, and resolutions presented by alumni members will not be recognized. As a result, Renew Rensselaer does not recognize the RAA’s meeting as valid and will NOT be attending it. Instead, we will be hosting our own Informational Meeting during R&HC Weekend.

For those of you who have already registered to attend the RAA’s meeting, we wanted to provide you with sufficient lead time to reverse course and avoid unnecessary travel time and expense. For those of you who live near Troy or are planning to attend R&HC, please plan to attend our Informational Meeting on Saturday, September 29th, in the Oakwood Community Center, located at 313 10th Street (at the northwest corner of Hoosick and 10th Streets). Refreshments will be available beginning at 2:00 pm and our presentation and discussion will begin at 3:00 pm.

We remain open to any and all communication with RPI alumni, and we hope our work so far has been productive in increasing the accountability of the administration and Board of Trustees with the purpose of bringing essential, positive changes to RPI. We hope you will join us in helping RPI regain its standing as one of the best technological universities in the world.

This outcome will require sustained effort by an organized alumni base to convince the Board of Trustees to bring about the changes outlined in our Platform. Please sign-up to show your support for our Platform, and share this email with your fellow classmates and alumni. It is through greater alumni activism and engagement that we will succeed.


Renew Rensselaer