Dear RPI Alumni,
We realize much time has passed since we’ve last updated you about Renew Rensselaer’s activities. We are excited to share our progress to renew RPI and an important message to each of you who have supported our mission.
As you are likely aware, RPI has a new president, Dr. Martin A. Schmidt ’81, who took office on July 1st of last year. After less than a year in office, he has already made substantial changes in staffing, communication, and programs. Marty (his preferred name) recently finished a 6+ month listening tour, where he visited and met with alumni around the world. He has also opened many previously “closed doors” by frequently and directly communicating with student leaders, faculty, and staff. We are told this change has alread resulted in an uplift in morale for the entire RPI Community.
Marty also recognizes the importance of RPI’s impending 200th anniversary, as evidenced by commencing a new strategic planning process, and hiring a VP for strategy and institutional impact and a new VP for institute advancement. Reading between the lines, Marty (and hopefully the Board of Trustees) sees an opportunity to elevate RPI’s ranking by implementing new strategic approaches to recruiting, teaching, student life, alumni relations, and fundraising.
We also received an encouraging report about an issue that many are passionate about—the return of student oversight to the Rensselaer Union. Below is a recent post from Rick Hartt ’70, long-time Director of the Union:
This week there was a great meeting coordinated by current Director of the Student Union, Charlie Potts, who I have an excellent relationship with. The current and immediate past GM and current and immediate past PU took the lead in presenting. President Marty Schmidt, the VP for Student Affairs and the Associate VP offered thoughts, along with Zoom attendees former GM’s Mark Rice and Greg Waters and former PU’s Rick Spillane and AnneMarie Ferraro and leadership educator and alum John Cimino. The students did the presenting and it was rewarding to hear the great strides with the re-invigorated level of student involvement at RPI under Marty’s leadership. It is true to the spirit that many of us know and appreciate.
Shared governance is returning to RPI. Reports from current students, faculty, and staff indicate Marty was an excellent choice for RPI president, and consequently, we urge everyone to continue providing him the support he deserves. We understand that the oft-mentioned Faculty and Staff Campus Climate Survey is a “go-to” document for Marty in identifying what needs to change over the next few years. Marty is addressing these issues day by day, but there is still much left to do. We urge you to reach out to him with positive letters, emails, or voice mails to offer your support.
Renew Rensselaer has also been discussing ways to improve RPI’s standing in key activities that affect the entire RPI Community, in order to enhance RPI’s college experience and reputation. Over the past few months, we have developed an idea that we believe has substantial merit—use RPI’s Alumni Hall of Fame (RAHOF) as the focal point for developing and implementing a long-term, active, integrated marketing program to enhance RPI’s market positioning. RPI’s alumni rally to the motto: “Why Not Change the World?”
Just last week, we participated in a conference with several RAA board members, RPI’s new chief advancement officer, alumni office staff, and Chuck Rancourt ’70, the founder of RPI’s Alumni Hall of Fame. The meeting went well and participants were enthusiastic about how the RAHOF can be a focus for increasing applications, selectivity, yield, and alumni participation.
That said, the Renew Rensselaer Platform was well thought out and is still relevant. We continue to believe implementation of the remaining Platform points is crucial to stimulating increased alumni financial participation, and will support Marty’s efforts to re-establish RPI as one of the truly great STEM schools in the world. We hope at some point, in the not-too-distant future, to discuss these Platform points directly with him, while we continue working to renew RPI and support Marty Schmidt.
We urge you to actively join us in similar efforts to support an RPI Renaissance.
P.S. Please remember to vote in the upcoming RAA trustee election and join in the online Annual Meeting scheduled for June 16th.