Renew Rensselaer Update

Dear RPI Alumni,

Those of us at Renew Rensselaer hope 2023 was a productive year for each of you, and that 2024 will be even more rewarding, both professionally and personally.

Since its inception, Renew Rensselaer has amassed a large contingent of passionate supporters, for which we are grateful. We know you earnestly want to see positive change at RPI and, toward this end, concluded the Renew Rensselaer Platform was worthy of your support. We have been pleased with RPI’s progress under the leadership of our new president, Dr. Martin “Marty” Schmidt ’81. We believe his management style and executive actions since taking office in July 2022 are in sync with most of our Platform points. He appears to be moving toward more transparency, facilitating open dialogue, increasing student engagement, and—according to the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA)—supporting an independent editorial column in Rensselaer Magazine.

Last July, two of our founders met with RPI’s Vice President for Institute Advancement and the RAA president to discuss progress to date and how this progress relates to our Platform. We discussed several points in greater detail, including developing an “Integrated Marketing Program” by tapping into the RAA’s Alumni Hall of Fame as a key focus for recruiting and increasing school pride.

We also have a renewed focus on Platform point #3: “Enable periodic nominations for, and elections of, at least two [Institute] Board members by means of an open process conducted by the RAA.” Our research into this issue shows peer institutions that have adopted the practice of alumni-elected members on their trustee boards, such as Dartmouth and MIT, have greatly benefited from it; therefore, we believe this is an important issue for RPI’s Board of Trustees to evaluate.

We strongly believe that two or more alumni-elected board members will be beneficial for improved long-term and more pro-active governance. We appreciate that current board members are major financial donors and recognize each member’s dedication to RPI. That said, we believe boards composed exclusively by perpetual selection risk becoming isolated, insular, and like-minded.

Notably, RPI once had alumni-elected “Alumni Trustees” who served on both the Institute’s Board of Trustees and the RAA. Palmer Ricketts, RPI’s ninth president, is quoted as having said, “I have been very decided in my opinion that every Alumnus of the School should have the right to vote for Alumni Trustees…” In 2009, the RAA’s president suggested the re-adoption of this practice to RPI’s then-president—who unfortunately nixed it without consideration by RPI’s Trustees.

As always, we want to hear from you, so please email Renew Rensselaer at, or reply to this email with your thoughts on the topic of alumni-elected board members.

Our heartfelt thanks to all our supporters over the past seven years. Your ongoing support of the Renew Rensselaer Platform encourages us to continue advocating for its adoption.

Renew Rensselaer