Celebration weekend planned for December

From December 4–6, the Rensselaer community will be invited to participate in “Celebration Weekend: A Tribute to the Transformation of Rensselaer.” The weekend will be designed to celebrate several landmark events at the Institute: the successful completion of the “Renaissance at Rensselaer” campaign, the decade anniversary of The Rensselaer Plan, and the 10th anniversary of President Shirley Ann Jackson’s tenure.

The weekend will feature a number of events allowing guests to witness the transformation that the Institute has undergone in the past decade, from campus tours to presentations on various facets of student life. Also included in the weekend are two concerts, one featuring the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin and the other with celebrated violinist Joshua Bell.

The event originally started out as just a donor celebration, according to Chief of Staff and Assistant Vice President of Policy and Planning Laban Coblentz, but then—amidst the economic downturn—the planning committee decided to combine the three recognition events into one. Rather than put too much funding into the weekend after the downturn, those involved in the planning have decided to “let the campus serve as a platform” so that donors can see more of what their contributions have gone toward, according to Coblentz.

Although there has been confusion over tickets for the two concerts featuring Franklin and Bell in the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center that weekend, there will be a limited number of tickets available to students, faculty, and staff.

These tickets will be available via a website for the celebration starting November 19 at 10 am and will be free of charge; two will be available per person on a first come, first serve basis and they will be available for pickup before the Friday concert. Members of the RPI community who have received invitations to the event already will be unable to receive more tickets using the website. The trepidation for the ticket distribution is to allow for minimal scalping of tickets to people outside of the Rensselaer community, according to Coblentz.

In addition to the seats in the concert hall, there are plans to possibly allow for overflow into the EMPAC Theater, so that more people are allowed to watch the concerts on the large screen.

The schedule includes activities spread across three days. On Friday afternoon, there will be a special session for campus tours and a presentation on the student life transformation at the Blitman Commons Residence Hall, including the Clustered Learning Advocacy and Support for Students initiative, the Rensselaer Education Across Cultural Horizons initiative, and programs such as the First-Year Experience. The evening will feature a dinner, the White Out men’s hockey game against Cornell University, and the Franklin concert.

Saturday, December 5, will begin with a breakfast at the East Campus Athletic Village for the entire campus community, followed by a 10-year retrospective presented by Jackson and the donor recognition ceremony. There will also be four concurrent special sessions in the afternoon, focusing on research being done at Rensselaer in areas such as biotechnology, energy, media and the arts, and computational science and engineering. That evening, there will be a black-tie dinner and the Bell concert, followed by dessert and dancing.

The weekend will end with a farewell brunch on Sunday.

In addition to these festivities, on the study days before final exams, there will also be a series of activities for students to take part in at EMPAC. On December 14, there will be a campus-wide holiday celebration that will allow students to grab a snack and just relax in EMPAC, according to Coblentz. On December 15, there will be a choral concert by the Antioch Group, for which members of the RPI community can get two tickets free of charge, with extra tickets costing $10 each.

Coblentz remarked, “We want to make sure we include as much of the campus community as possible in these upcoming celebrations.”