Hello, RPI! This week we have decided to write a joint article to celebrate this past weekend’s Reunion & Homecoming. As usual, this is an excellent weekend in which we can all catch up with those friends who have recently left us and make new friends with many who left RPI a little less recently.
Thursday was the kickoff of this event with a special dinner for those alumni who have been particularly supportive of the Institute. There were many amazing men and women honored that evening, but special congratulations go to Paula Loring Simon ’68 for receiving the Distinguished Service Award, which is the highest award that can be given by the Rensselaer Alumni Association. Her many years of dedication and love for the Institute have truly proven her worthy of receiving this prestigious award.
This weekend was unique as we were fortunate enough to receive a gift from the Class of 2007 on the very day that alumni weekend commenced. This class has very generously provided the Rensselaer Union with the new signs of the footbridge, meant to endure the wear and tear of frequent use for many years to come. However, the signs were only the first part of the class’ gift. The Class of 2007 has also donated red and white lighting to illuminate the bridge in our school colors. This gift was made possible by the Lighting Research Center, which provided the design and specifications at no cost, and Physical Plant’s Electrical Shop which installed the lights at no cost. Pictured here, Donald Pendagast ’07 was one of the driving forces behind this project, and we would like to thank him and the entire Class of 2007 for this wonderful addition to the RPI campus.
Pendagast has also been an integral part to starting the fundraising campaign weR Gold, which has helped many organizations who wouldn’t have received help otherwise. This program has enabled RPI Players to receive new lighting components, which are an important aspect to every theater’s show. It has also provided support above and beyond what was needed to get the RPI Clothes Closet on its feet. Thank you to all the alumni who participated in the weR Gold program. Thank you to Pendagast for his hard work with the program, as well as Courtney Bissell for promoting and creating this wonderful program. And a huge thank you to all who donated to the five projects sponsored by the weR Gold program. These organizations have benefited in so many ways, and they really appreciate your generosity.
On Friday, we attended the State of the Institute/ Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame Induction in the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. During the first part of the ceremony, President Shirley Ann Jackson gave her State of the Institute address, which covered, among other things, the steps taken to prepare RPI as a leader in areas of research, our rise in the national college rankings, and the refresh of the Rensselaer Plan for the 200th anniversary of the founding of RPI in 2024. Jackson also discussed the launch of the Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications. The purpose of IDEA is to create an integrated computational ecosystem which “[brings] together Rensselaer talents and strengths in everything from supercomputing to immersive environments, and link them to applications at the interface of engineering and the physical, life, and social sciences.” Once the State of the Institute address had finished, the induction ceremony for the Alumni Hall of Fame began.
In 1995, the Alumni Hall of Fame was conceived by the Rensselaer Alumni Association with the endorsement of the Board of Trustees to honor alumni who changed the world with their skills and talents. These distinguished alumni forged new frontiers in science, education, and technology. The accomplishments of these leaders have enriched the history of RPI and they inspire to everyone who wishes to follow their paths. This year, four new members were selected for induction into the Alumni Hall of Fame, bringing the total membership to 72. Congratulations to the 2013 inductees Alfred Tredway White, Class of 1865; Lewis B. Combs, Class of 1916; B. Jayant Baliga, Class of 1974; and Thomas W. Phelan Jr. The stories of these individuals and their remarkable achievements are available on the Rensselaer Alumni Relations website for those who wish to learn more about them.
One of our favorite events during the Reunion and Homecoming weekend was Fan Fest. At this event, there was free food and entertainment for alumni and students. This year, there was also the welcome addition of a Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel was created by RPI alumnus, George W.G. Ferris. Ferris was a successful steel expert and designed the original Ferris wheel for Chicago’s World Colombian Exposition in 1893.
The women’s soccer team played a historic game on Saturday, as their match was the first to be the highlighted feature for the afternoon athletic event. They played an excellent game and beat Clarkson, further proving that Clarkson still sucks! In addition to the soccer game, the 15th ranked men’s hockey team had their first game in an exhibition match against St. Mary’s University. The Engineers easily defeated St. Mary’s squad 5-1. This is a great start for what should be another fantastic year of RPI hockey.
Reunion and Homecoming is a special time for all of us on the RPI campus. It brings back our friends who have recently graduated and moved on to the work force. It also brings back older alumni who represent the rich history and tradition that makes Rensselaer the unique place it is. As we are both seniors, this Reunion and Homecoming was our last as students. We hope that students realize the significance and importance of this weekend, and we can’t wait to see how RPI is doing when we return next year as alumni.