Category Archives: News

RESEARCH

GLASE center to improve greenhouse industry

On June 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo joined Washington Governor Jay Inslee and California Governor Jerry Brown in creating the United States Climate Alliance-a group of states that are committed to upholding the Paris Agreement following President Donald Trump's pledged departure from the deal. The goals of the accords include reducing emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels and limiting the average increase of global temperatures to two degrees celsius by 2030. Read more...

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FINANCES

Standard & Poor’s downgrades RPI’s credit rating to BBB+

On January 5, 2017, Standard and Poor's downgraded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's long-term and underlying debt ratings. S&P, one of the "Big Three" credit rating agencies, discloses credit ratings for the debt of public and private entities. The highest credit rating on the S&P scale is defined as "AAA," while "CCC" is considered vulnerable to non-repayment.
The last time S&P revised RPI's credit rating was in 2014 when the Institute's fiscal outlook was revised to negative, but remained stable at an "A-." The most recent revision downgraded RPI's credit rating to "BBB+." According to S&P, the rating category "exhibits adequate protection parameters," but "adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity" for RPI to meet its financial commitments to debt issuers. As of May 27, 2017, S&P considers RPI's fiscal outlook to be stable.
According to financial documents obtained by The Poly, RPI's long-term debt was $742.37 million as of June 30, 2016, a decrease of roughly one percent from $749.43 million in 2015. In that same time frame, RPI's total liabilities grew by roughly 1.4 percent from $1.048 billion to $1.062 billion. Net assets, concurrently, fell to their lowest point in the past five years to $373.4 million from $443.7 million the prior year, a decrease of 15.8 percent. Net assets and the endowment were negatively impacted by a decline in interest rates and flat investment performance, which led to a negative return on the endowment.
The strain on the Institute's finances is also partially due to RPI's minimum pension liability, which rose from $118 million to $154 million, an increase of 30.5 percent. The total value of the defined pension plan liability was $329 million in 2015, rising by 13.4 percent to $373 million in 2016.
Regardless of Rensselaer's current financial status, the Institute is currently far from unable to pay off its debt obligations. Increased enrollment and the upcoming implementation of the Summer Arch program will likely have a long-term and significant impact on the Institute's finances. It is currently unclear if enrollment figures will be impacted by the addition of the Excelsior Scholarship, a tuition award for in-state residents attending public schools which eliminates tuition expenses for those with a household income below $100,000 per year. Rensselaer, along with two thirds of New York's private universities, recently chose not to adopt the Enhanced Tuition Award, which would have granted a subsidized tuition-discount of $6,000 for in-state residents equivalent to the value of the Excelsior Scholarship.
President Shirley Ann Jackson is planning to launch a transformative capital campaign on October 13, 2017 specifically focused on student aid and faculty resources. Rensselaer's last capital campaign, called "Renaissance at Rensselaer," began in 2004 and surpassed its goal of raising over $1.4 billion nearly nine months before the targeted end of the campaign.
The last capital campaign led to immense changes on campus with the construction of the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, the first phase of the East Campus Athletic Village construction, and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. Rensselaer was also able to hire more than 300 professors since 1999 while steadily increasing enrollment, bringing the student-faculty ratio from 18:1 in Fall 1999 to 13:1 in Fall 2016. Read more...

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OFF-CAMPUS EVENT

Worldwide marches support scientific research

On Saturday, April 22, Earth Day, thousands convened on the west lawn of the New York State Capitol building to march at one of over 600 marches for science across the nation. Before the march, volunteers coordinated over 40 educational displays, demonstrations, experiments, and crafts for those attending. The activities were tabled by science clubs, colleges, businesses, organizations, and museums. In addition to the family friendly displays, 100 science professionals participated in “Meet the Scientists,” a program where each science representative wore a name tag labeled with their area of expertise to allow kids and others to ask questions and get to know what they do in the science community. The expo on the west lawn was a great way to spend Earth Day, and brought many in the community together to stand for science, research, education, and the environment. Read more...

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CAMPUS EVENT

Diversity, race issues confronted in campus forum

On Monday, a group of students from the Race as a Global Challenge course hosted an event focused on race and diversity on campus in Mother’s Wine Emporium. The first hour was a seminar geared toward leaders of multicultural groups on campus, which then opened up to the public for general discussion. Read more...

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STUDENT SENATE

New members of Executive Board confirmed

Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ‘18 opened the Student Senate meeting with committee reports. Those began with Academic Affairs Committee Chairperson Risheel Gabbireddy ’19 who stated that the committee is currently working on the process to appoint a faculty member to the Institute’s tenure committee. The committee will also be discussing upcoming projects that it will work on beginning next semester. Following Gabbireddy, Community Relations Chairperson Michael Gardner ’17 stated that he will be meeting soon with Chris Nolin, Rensselaer’s Director of Community and State Relations to discuss RPI’s relationship with the local community and how the Senate can help improve that relationship. Read more...

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EXECUTIVE BOARD

E-Board approves Publications Suite renovation

The last meeting of the 2016-2017 Executive Board began half an hour earlier than usual, to accommodate the extensive agenda set for the meeting. First on the list was a reallocation request from UPAC. The club has recently gained responsibility for hosting ECAV After Dark, and wanted to reallocate extra money in the UPAC budget to help with the event. The change was approved 10-0-5. Read more...

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STUDENT SENATE

Etzine continues with appointments

Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18 opened the Student Senate meeting with committee reports. Those began with Interim Academic Affairs Committee Chairperson Varun Rao ’18 who expressed interest in creating a new position for a Senate liaison to the Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate is a critical component of governance of the Institute and Rao feels that it will be important to have a student representative expressing the interests of the student body during faculty meetings. The AAC is also working with Interim Rules and Elections Committee Chairperson David Raab ’19 to create a new process to elect professors to the tenure committee. Faculty have expressed that they do not wish to appoint their constituents to a committee deciding their own tenure, and would rather an unbiased group of student leaders make the decision. Rao stated that he expects the creation of the new process to be complete by the end of next semester. Read more...

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EXECUTIVE BOARD

Phalanx Honor Society denied funding

President of the Union Matt Rand ’19 began his first Executive Board meeting with a presentation from former PU Chip Kirchner ’17. Kirchner, in a last act as PU, brought forward recommendations that RPI TV undergo conflict resolution and leadership training, as well as removing their exception for community membership, which currently consists of 40 percent of the club. The recommendations were brought due to an email sent to the relevant bodies regarding the resignation of their president, Dan Bruce ’18. Read more...

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CAMPUS EVENT

Chief justice of the United States visits RPI

Supreme Court of the United States Chief Justice John Roberts came to RPI on Tuesday to give a speech and answer questions for the Rensselaer community. Even though Roberts said he never imagined being Chief Justice or a judge, he went on to accomplish great things in his career. Roberts graduated from Harvard College with a degree in history, and later on from Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctorate degree. “The only reason I went to law school was because it was clear that there were no jobs for historians,” he said. After graduation, he began serving the American justice system as a practicing lawyer, clerk, judge, and now, Chief Justice. It was in 2005, after the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist, that Roberts was nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate. Read more...

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STUDENT SENATE

Grand Marshal creates new review committee

Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18 opened his first Student Senate meeting by exceeding the expectations of all incoming senators. Etzine stated that he expects new senators to behave professionally during Senate meetings, including dressing in business casual attire, refraining from using inappropriate language, and having senators understand that they are representing the student body in all interactions with both students and administrators. Etzine has expressed his concerns about a lack of professionalism in Student Government in the past and would like to see that change through more rigid enforcement. Read more...

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CAMPUS EVENT

Phalanx Honor Society inducts 25 new members

Outstanding freshmen, sophomores welcomed into White Key Society

On Saturday, April 8, the 2017 Phalanx Honor Society tapping ceremony took place in the Heffner Alumni House. The ceremony began with welcoming remarks from Phalanx Vice President Christopher Markum ’17, followed by the keynote address by President Shirley Ann Jackson. After the keynote address, the White Key Society held their induction in which they inducted 11 new members, eight from the Class of 2019, and three from the Class of 2020. The White Key Society awards membership based on the same criteria as the Phalanx society but is awarded to freshmen and sophomores who have shown strong leadership skills and dedication to improving the Rensselaer community. Read more...

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Grand Marshal Week 2017 election results

On Friday, April 7, Justin Etzine ’18 and Matthew Rand ’19 were elected Grand Marshal and President of the Union, respectively. Etzine, running unopposed, received 85 percent of the vote. No write-in candidates for GM reached the 150 vote threshold to be reported. Rand won against opponent Rasika Ekhalikar ’18, with 50 percent of the vote. Keegan Caraway ’18 and Harrison Leinweber ’18 were eliminated in last Tuesday’s primary. Read more...

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Elections

Etzine, Rand win GM, PU races

Justin Etzine ’18 and Matthew Rand ’19 have been elected Grand Marshal and President of the Union, respectively. Read more...

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TOWN MEETING

Capital campaign: financial aid, faculty, facilities

Vice President for Information Services and Technology and Chief Information Officer John Kolb ’79 kicked off the president’s bi-annual Town Meeting by referencing President Shirley Ann Jackson’s recent public appearances, such as her participation in the World Economic Forum and her shout out on Saturday Night Live. Read more...

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ADMISSIONS

RPI receives record number of applications

Rensselaer received the highest number of total applications in its history for the Class of 2021—a total of 19,485 applications, 1,018 more than last year—according to Rensselaer’s Office of Admissions. This represents a total increase of 5 percent from last year at this time, and an increase of over 28 percent over the past five years. Read more...

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ELECTIONS

Rand, Ekhalikar win PU primary

On April 4, the Rules & Elections committee released the results of the primaries, certifying that President of the Union candidates Matthew Rand ’19 and Rasika Ekhalikar ’18 will be on the final ballot. They received 998 and 779 votes, respectively. Keegan Caraway ’18 received 544 votes and Harrison Leinweber ’18 received 497 votes. Read more...

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STUDENT SENATE

Ilori leads final Student Senate meeting as GM

Grand Marshal Paul Ilori ‘17 opened the Student Senate meeting with committee reports. Those began with Rules & Elections Committee Chairperson David Raab ’19, who reported that elections were running well with no major issues. In order to receive a mug, students must vote in both the primaries and general student government elections. Read more...

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Further look into Mother’s renovation approved

The Executive Board opened its last meeting of President of the Union Chip Kirchner’s term on Thursday, March 30 with a full schedule ahead of them. First on their list was a presentation from Luke Kuprenas ’18 about the proposed future renovations of Mother’s Wine Emporium and the Games Room. Kuprenas displayed some of the suggested floor plans of the new space, which aim to make both spaces more usable. Read more...

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CAMPUS EVENT

FIRST Robotics inspires interest in STEM

Thursday, March 16 to Saturday March 18, 36 teams of high school students, guided by mentors, teachers, and parents, competed in the FIRST STEAMWORKS New York Tech Valley Regional competition, held for the fourth year at the East Campus Athletic Village. Read more...

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CAMPUS HISTORY

Rensselaer’s ties to slavery revealed

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is simultaneously one of the most prestigious modern institutions of higher learning and is the oldest technological research university in the English-speaking world. Yet many are unaware that the initial funding of the Institute was established through centuries of forced labor and slavery. Read more...

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