Dear Editorial Board of The Rensselaer Polytechnic:
I would like to correct an inaccuracy included in your article, “Uncovering Rensselaer’s Finances” in the March 4, 2015 edition of The Rensselaer Polytechnic, and also provide a particular context to the Institute’s finances over the past fifteen years.
Rensselaer’s grants, donations, and research revenue over the period 2000 to 2013 has not declined. Rather, a reporting change was made in FY2010, in which research contract revenue, which had previously been combined with gifts and grants, was reported separately within program service revenue. On a combined basis, Rensselaer grants, donations, and research revenue has grown from $89 million in fiscal year 2001 to $134 million in fiscal year 2013.
As the article correctly pointed out, Rensselaer has been transformed through the implementation of The Rensselaer Plan and President Jackson’s leadership. The vision of The Rensselaer Plan was realized during a difficult period in the world’s financial history. In addition, during this time frame, both unrestricted and total net assets of Rensselaer have been adversely affected by the necessity to continue to fund a legacy defined benefit retirement plan, established in 1944, and to honor Rensselaer’s commitment to our retirees and the remaining participants in the plan, which was closed to new employees in 1993. Defined benefit retirement plans are uncommon in higher education. The schools with which you compared Rensselaer do not have such plans. Exclusive of the impact of the defined benefit retirement plan, both unrestricted and total net assets would have been higher by $266 million respectively through fiscal year 2013.
Virginia C. Gregg
Vice President for Finance & Chief Financial Officer