Looking to the semester ahead

It is so great to see our campus alive with activity. To all our returning Rensselaer students, welcome back. And to our new students, we give you a special welcome as you begin the first week of your new academic journey. We are glad you are here and part of the Rensselaer family!

I was pleased The Poly asked me to share some updates from Student Life as we begin the new academic year. Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students is the transformative student experience at Rensselaer, and provides the foundation for our work. We are enhancing Student Life in ways that will strengthen the student experience; strengthen support for students; strengthen the effectiveness of the Student Life portfolio, and strengthen capabilities for personal and professional development of Student Life staff.

The Rensselaer Plan 2024, the Institute’s comprehensive strategic plan, guides our work in Student Life, and emphasizes advancing diversity and inclusion as “essential elements of CLASS.” This commitment is very important and is underscored by our work in Student Life in the year ahead.

Unity Underlying Diversity: Inspired by the 2016 President’s Commencement Colloquy, the Institute has adopted a theme of “Unity Underlying Diversity” as the focus for a campus-wide conversation this year. In classrooms, in the residence halls, and through programming on campus, students will be exploring this timely topic that will stimulate discussion in all areas of the university.

Brave Space: Violence, injustices and tragedy continue to impact marginalized and oppressed groups across America and abroad. The Rensselaer Union is creating an opportunity for all students and staff who are affected by events in today’s world to come together in a “brave space” for support, processing, and healing. Meetings will begin Friday, September 16 at noon, and continue biweekly throughout the semester in room 3510/3511 of the Union.

As a residentially based university, where our students live on or in proximity to the campus, our living and learning environments are foundational to CLASS. There are a number of developments in this area that will enhance the student experience.

City Station West: We have added City Station West, part of College Suites on 6th Avenue, as an addition to the Residential Commons this fall. Upperclass students and graduate students occupy this student residential community.

E-Complex and North Hall: We have renovated and opened these buildings in time for the fall semester, and they provide additional housing opportunities for our students. Currently, the buildings are occupied by first-year students and these residences provide a great addition to the Residential Commons.

Off Campus Commons: We are currently developing a physical space for the Off Campus Commons, which will serve as a centralized location and “home away from home” for education and community building opportunities for Rensselaer students who live off-campus. The Off Campus Commons is expected to open during the fall semester, and more details are forthcoming.

We know that holistic student wellness is critical to student success. As such, we are making a number of enhancements in our Student Health Center to support Rensselaer students through CLASS.

Health promotion and outreach: We are expanding and refining health education programs on a variety of important topics for students to support the wellbeing of the Rensselaer community.

Additional staff: Student Life is adding two additional staff, one in counseling and one in health care, that will increase access to services for students through the Student Health Center.

These are a few of the developments occurring in Student Life—I look forward to sharing more updates with students through The Poly and in other venues in the year ahead, as Student Life staff work to engage, guide, challenge, support, and broaden our students through CLASS.

Best wishes to all our students for a successful fall semester!