Trustees plan new residence to replace

Through an e-mail from Vice President for Strategic Communications and External Relations William Walker, the Board of Trustees announced on Monday that it will be making a unanimous gift toward a new building that will serve as a space for entertaining visitors to the Institute in addition to a residence for the president of Rensselaer.

The gift was decided on by the Board “in anticipation of our future fund-raising efforts,” according to Chairman of the Board of Trustees Samuel Heffner ’56. He continued, “The new facility will be an important tool for use in our ongoing advancement programs.” Walker commented that part of the reason for the decision by the Board was that, after the capital campaign, it realized that there needed to be a place for the president of RPI to receive guests to the Institute. Since limitations exist with the current president’s house and there are early stages of planning for more ambitious future fund-raising efforts, the Board decided the gift was necessary to “lend more to appropriately represent the university,” Walker said.

The new building will be erected on the same piece of land as the current president’s house on Tibbets Avenue. The old building will not be destroyed, but instead will be renovated for use as a guesthouse on the property. According to Walker, the building has fundamental problems with radon and its water, and requires updates before it can be used for anything. The new building will be completed first, and the restoration and updating of the old building will be completed afterwards.

Walker noted that, although there are various venues for entertaining like the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, and the East Campus Athletic Village, “[b]oth types of venues are important to entertaining guests, but a house for the president where one could hold a dinner for example, are necessary in addition to venues such as EMPAC.”

Heffner stated, “Those facilities gave us spaces we needed for the enhancement of academic, research, and student life programs. A new building, that enables the president to receive and entertain, appropriately, Rensselaer constituents, donors, and other high-level visitors, will enhance our ability to raise funds to support those programs and anticipated new ones.”

Although the amount of the donation is not determined yet, the Trustees have made a commitment to purchase the gift and the amount will be set upon deciding on a final construction plan. A timeline for construction also hasn’t been finalized as of yet.

“The Board sees this gift as a long-term investment,” Walker said. He noted that the gift was above what has already been given to the Institute by members of the Board towards the capital campaign, which went toward various improvements on campus.

When asked about student access to the new house, Walker stated that the house is planned to be opened up for a range of possibilities for the president to host events, which could potentially include students and student leaders.