Rensselaer recently named Graig Eastin as vice president of Institute Advancement. Formerly, Eastin was the vice president of the Children’s Hospital Foundation and hopes to use the knowledge and skills he developed previously to improve RPI through his post. The authors of this article were given the opportunity to sit down with Eastin to discuss plans for the future of RPI and where he sees the Institute heading.
The interview began with questions asking Eastin what he would like to accomplish as the new vice president of institute advancement. He responded by explaining that he wishes to “make sure that [RPI is] positioned well for the next campaign. One of the things [he is] doing right now is assessing where our abilities are and what we need to do to truly fill out the 2024 plan.” He went on to state that he is working hard to fund the 2024 initiatives, especially regarding ones that are student-led.
When asked what drew him to RPI, Eastin responded that he was inspired by the Institute’s strong leadership under the supervision of Jackson. He continued by saying that he had been watching the change at RPI since 2007. He expressed that he wanted to “serve under someone who has a vision to change and transform an institute,” and that being a part of that process was very exciting to him.
Eastin remarked that Rensselaer wasn’t necessarily different from his prior work experience and that every academic institution has similar ways to get things done. He acknowledged that he has to learn the culture of RPI, but he was very enthusiastic about how much he has enjoyed the school’s culture so far. He went on to say that he has enjoyed working at a private institute because he can control his outlook whereas at a public university, there are a lot of state regulations and frames in place that are limiting and are difficult to work outside of the box and innovate like one can at a private institute.
Another important advantage that Eastin has is that he believes that his prior experience has prepared him well to face the challenges that he will be tasked with at Rensselaer. He claimed he has “great experience with capital campaigns and great experience with some startup work. [His] past experience at University of California San Diego was very applicable because [Eastin] started a brand new school of management.” He went on to cite his resourcefulness, which will help him achieve the largest output with the resources that are available to him.
Regarding the future of the Institute, Eastin claimed that “the future is very bright for RPI and the students present an incredible energy, and this is a very bright student population. Therefore, we will see many more leaders in our economy come out of this institution.” He continued by explaining how Rensselaer does a fantastic job preparing their students for the challenges they will face in the near future. Eastin hopes that he can help set up policies that will have a direct impact on the next 100 years.
The interview finished with the topic of what he has accomplished in his time thus far at RPI. He explained that he has been in an assessment period and is now coming up with new strategies to use in order to enable him to run a successful campaign. He went on to say that he has been opening dialogues with many of the Institute’s leaders and students to discuss the future of Rensselaer.
Eastin brings strong leadership and drive to Rensselaer as the Institute moves forward. Under his leadership, Rensselaer will be well equipped to face the challenges of the future.