Plan refresh session centers on CLASS

Main questions look at Institute’s leadership, goals for the next decade

KYLE KERAGA ’15 AND SHOSHANA RUBINSTEIN ’16 OF THE STUDENT SENATE PROVIDE feedback regarding the proposed revisions to the Rensselaer Plan .

On Tuesday, Vice President for Research Jonathan Dordick represented ReaLCom 2.0 in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies auditorium for the second open session on the refresh of the Rensselaer Plan. During the session, Dordick highlighted the main changes in the refresh, then posed five questions to the audience of students, staff, faculty, and other members of the Rensselaer community.

Dordick began with a brief history of the original Plan. Approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2000, the Rensselaer Plan was “an ‘evergreen’ plan designed to be revised on a regular basis,” according to the original text. The current refresh will update the Plan for the years 2012–2024, which, among other goals, will help to prepare for the Institute’s 200th anniversary in 2024.

After going over the new guiding principles and highlighting certain changes (such as the addition of references to the Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students initiative), Dordick opened the floor for feedback. The discussion was structured with five open-ended questions:

1. How do our educational, research, and administrative activities align with and support our strategic goals?

2. In those activities that we have chosen to pursue, are we in a position of leadership? If yes, what validates this?

3. If we are not in a leadership position in the areas we focus on, how can we get there within the timeframe of the revised Rensselaer Plan?

4. Beyond what we already have focused on, are there any imperatives that we are missing?

5. How do we identify and sunset lower priority and/or ineffective programs?

Members of the audience were handed microphones and given the opportunity to make comments or ask questions.

“There are a lot of small things that are being overlooked,” said Brian Nock ’13 on the inclusion of the CLASS initiative in the Plan. “It just doesn’t hit people across the board.” He suggested that often only a few students directly benefit from CLASS, while others are left behind or just unaffected.

On the other hand, Roger Mike ’70 raised concerns about possible unintended consequences if CLASS is taken too far. He cautioned that with too much adult supervision, students may lose opportunities to “grow up” in the relatively safe college environment, making the transition to the “real world” and a job that much more difficult.

“Looking ahead 12 years, I would think that [faculty leadership] should be represented in the Plan somewhere,” added Professor Emeritus David Haviland ’64. Though he applauded the numerous Rensselaer alumni who have impacted the world, Haviland wanted to see more current faculty move towards a media presence on par with other top-tier science schools like MIT and Stanford. “RPI should be on the short list of institutions to consult about big developments,” he explained.

There are two more sessions remaining: Wednesday, October 10, from 2–3:30 pm and Thursday, October 11, from 10:30 am–12 pm, both located in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies auditorium. The draft is available online for Rensselaer community members at https://afsws.rpi.edu/AFS/dept/metasite/plan/draft/rensselaerplanrefreshdraft.pdf/ (log in using your RCS credentials). Any written comments can be sent to realcom2@lists.rpi.edu.