Top Hat

Dai discusses new directors, deans; future of Institute

Hello RPI! I hope everyone’s first week of classes went well; the add deadline for classes is Monday, February 4, so make sure you get those in quick if there’s a class you’d like to get into.

This week I got to thinking about what we’ve been doing at Rensselaer the few years that I’ve been here. Recently, we’ve hired many new people to be the new proponents of our education. We’ve seen new faces that directly better our student life: director of the Rensselaer Union, and our vice president for student life, and many new deans. We’ve hired new faculty to foster our intellectual growth in the classroom. The new Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences dean has been working very hard to make changes to the HASS department and our HASS core curriculum. Even athletics, the Center for Career and Professional Developement, and others have been going through similar transitions. Without a doubt, things are happening school-wide (if it wasn’t obvious enough with the Rensselaer Plan).

Not only are we hiring new people, but we are also going through some changes in programming and culture at Rensselaer. The new revisions to Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students initiative include six core themes that state very clearly what we emphasize to our students. We have new clubs starting some exciting traditions, such as weR: The Spirit of Rensselaer Society. Our focus on cultivating and supporting greeks through the Greek Life Commons and assisting the students living off campus through the Off-Campus Commons, have showed the commitment to the success of all of our students, no matter where they live.

All of this focus in improving and creating a university that is known for more than just its rigorous engineering program may be apparent by looking at the types of students that have been applying to Rensselaer. This year, there have been record numbers applying, and not only that, but the quality of students applying is also higher than ever.

Like all transitions, it is a slow and gradual process. There are two ways of thinking about it as well. You can be excited about change or unperturbed about it. To me, all of this is very exciting. We are all attending Rensselaer at a moment that is very special. This transformational phase that we happen to be part of is an opportunity for each of us to leave our own legacies here.

I can’t begin to imagine what this school will be like twenty, or even ten years down the road. Will we be a school with more than just Division 1 Hockey as our two D-1 sports? Will we be the type of school that all elite non-engineering employers come to recruit at? Will we be the type of school that students choose over Massachusetts Institute of Technology?

The future is unclear, but one thing is certain: we can all choose to do something to take our institute to the next level. We can choose to do things that make small differences that add up: something as small as telling friends from high school how great of a school this is and having a more positive outlook on what we’re doing here. This is a time of great change, and the possibilities are endless—so why not change the world?