The Renew Rensselaer team is comprised of RPI alumni from all generations. Some have seen their careers come to a successful conclusion, others are in their early and middle stages; all are grateful to have the solid foundation of an RPI education, and share a deep concern about the Institute’s future.
As individuals, we understand the difference between mediocrity and excellence. We see a great need for top-quality engineers, scientists, and leaders in other disciplines who challenge the status quo and invent new and more productive products and processes. Essentially, this is what we believe RPI is all about, why we care so much for it, and why it must be strengthened for the future.
How We Joined Together
During the last seventeen years, we have heard and read about the changes taking place at RPI as embodied in The Rensselaer Plan. Some changes have been for the better, such as needed investment in basic facilities, but with this plan has come high levels of financial risk, a shift in emphasis toward research and doctoral programs at the expense of core undergraduate programs, as well as an altered campus environment for faculty, students and staff—one in which poor communications and high levels of dissatisfaction are increasingly evident. Over the last few years, many of us have become increasingly concerned about the future of the Institute.
In March of 2016, students reached their highest level of discontent, as they protested to preserve the long-standing practice of a student-run and student-managed Union. In turn, this prompted a swift and staunch wave of support from alumni. We were among those alumni, although in several different groups at that time. Many of us signed petitions and wrote letters to the Board of Trustees to send a strong message that the pending change was unacceptable. During the following summer, as our personal networks began to overlap, we found each other and began to share our long-standing and deep concerns about many aspects of the situation at RPI. We quickly learned we shared a common belief that there were serious underlying problems at our alma mater, some of which were evidenced in RPI’s financial metrics, others in the rankings of its engineering programs, and some of which were only obvious to alumni who were engaged with faculty, staff, and students.
We concluded it was time to conduct independent research and fact-finding that could provide us with a clearer picture of how RPI had declined in various, vital areas. Everything we read from official RPI publications was positive and upbeat, yet everything we heard “behind the scenes” was concerning and distressing. As we read, gathered data, and analyzed it, we uncovered issues of governance and leadership, academic reputation, financial condition, and student life, which have developed over many years and are indicative of a weakened institution.
Through this process, which took place over the past 21 months, we have been joined by many other alumni. Over time, our leadership team emerged, whose profiles appear on this page. We now feel the time is right to share our findings on these critical issues and seek–with your active involvement–to resolve them and allow RPI to regain its proper standing.