Construction of new buildings financed by gift

An anonymous donor has pledged $130 million it finance the construction of the proposed Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.

The donation is the tenth largest ever given to a university, and the third largest to a university in New York State.

Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson spoke about the gift at a press conference last month.

“This extraordinary expression of support will enable Rensselaer to move forward in two areas of critical importance for the Institute and for society,” she said.

While the gift is expected to completely finance the construction and outfitting of both buildings, “This is really only the beginning,” said David Haviland, vice president of Institute advancement.

Haviland says efforts must now be made to raise money to support the buildings, including faculty positions that will go along with the research initiatives associated with them.

“Not all of our needs are met,” he said, “but this gift gets us off to a very nice start.”

Haviland also said the gift shows the importance of initiatives like the biotechnology and performing arts programs.

“Big ideas do inspire big responses,” he said.

The buildings, which are specified as first-year priorities in The Plan, are currently in the planning phases in three committees.

The EMPAC task force has worked with groups from the arts department, performing arts clubs, and (something else) to develop a basic idea of what kinds of programming spaces and facilities the building should provide.

Open meetings will be scheduled this month to gather more input from the campus community. The entries in the architectural competition to determine the design of the building will be judged in May.

The building will be constructed on the hill at the west end of campus, between the Folsom Library and the MRC. The building is expected to be ready by August of 2003.

Jackson said the center “represents a major emphasis towards realizing the commitment of The Rensselaer Plan to enrich the student experience and to build a vibrant campus community, while engaging the larger community within which this university exists.”

The advisory committee for the biotechnology center was formed recently and is currently looking at what features that facility should include. In addition, a committee led by Jackson is working on selecting an architect to design the building.

“The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies … will provide the state-of-the-art research and education facilities required for the exponential interest in research envisioned by The Rensselaer Plan,” Jackson said.

Construction on the biotechnology center is expected to begin in May of 2002. The building will be located on 15th street next to the CII.