Category Archives: News

CAMPUS EVENT

Ndaba Mandela seeks youth empowerment

“Coretta Scott King reminds us that freedom is never really won. You have to earn it and fight for it in every generation. So, what is our generation fighting for?” inquired Ndaba Mandela during a forum at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, September 19. The talk, which was part of the Rensselaer Union Speakers Forum, focused on subjects including the world’s inaccurate perception of Africa, and his efforts to empower underprivileged youth. Read more...

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STUDENT SENATE

Senate: Flying Chicken, VP Strong visits

On Monday, the 48th Student Senate began its seventh meeting, as Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18 opened with his weekly report. He reiterated that the hiring process and interviews for the new director of the Union are still underway. He also mentioned the closing of the library the Friday and Saturday of Alumni Reunion and Homecoming. In accommodation for the gala being held there, he voiced concern on the potential impact the closing would have on the availability of study spaces on campus. Read more...

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EXECUTIVE BOARD

E-Board keeps Outing Club minutes under wraps

On Thursday, September 18, the Rensselaer Union Executive Board held its second meeting of the semester in the Shelnutt Gallery. The agenda was remarkably brief, at only one page. Read more...

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RENSSELAER UNION

Memo: RPI president can pick Union director

The Rensselaer Union has lacked a director since former Director of the Union Joe Cassidy’s departure in January 2016. In an effort to fill the position, the Division for Human Resources has been conducting a search for candidates. On Wednesday, September 13, the on-campus portion of the search for a director of the Union begins as two candidates will be coming to RPI. During their time here, each will be interviewed for an hour by a committee of 20 students. Ultimately, according to the Rensselaer Union Constitution, the next director of the Union will need to be approved by a vote of the Rensselaer Union Executive Board. Read more...

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STUDENT HEALTH

Counseling Center undergoing revamp this semester

At the end of the Spring 2017 semester, the Student Senate released Counseling Center survey results and areas for recommendation. The survey results included both quantitative and qualitative data on the student experience summarizing the general findings of the year-long study. Due to the sensitive nature of the counseling and the feedback provided by students, anonymity was guaranteed by the Senate subcommittee, led by Nathan Dorer ’18, to all survey respondents. The survey was shared with the Rensselaer community via social media from November 3 to November 15, 2016. Read more...

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STUDENT SENATE

Title IX coordinators visit senators

On September 11, 2017, Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18 opened the meeting with his weekly report, stating that the hiring process for the new director of the Union is ongoing. Etzine conceded that he cannot share more about the process, except that interviews are currently being conducted. Following the GM report, the Student Senate received a presentation from Title IX Coordinators Elizabeth Brown-Boyette and Larry Hardy. Read more...

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EXECUTIVE BOARD

E-Board approves pharmacy delivery service

On Thursday, September 7, 2017, the Rensselaer Union Executive Board held its first meeting of the Fall semester. The E-Board discussed proposals related to an on-campus pharmacy, RPI Ballroom Dance, UPAC Sound, and Rensselaer Outing Club. Read more...

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STUDENT SENATE

Rules and Elections kicks off freshman campaigns

The Rensselaer Union 48th Student Senate held its first meeting of the semester on Saturday, September 2. The meeting was held in the Bruggeman Conference Center of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at the conclusion of training for the members of the Senate. Read more...

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INTERVIEW

GECAS CEO talks aerospace industry with RPI

I had the unique opportunity to interview Alec Burger, the President and CEO of General Electric Capital Aviation Services, the largest commercial aircraft financing and leasing company in the world. GECAS has approximately 1,700 airplanes in operation or on order, and is part of GE Capital. Read more...

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Gallery: Welcome Fest 2017

During Welcome Fest on Tuesday, August 29, members of the incoming Class of 2021 made their way down the Approach and through Downtown Troy to kick off their first year at Rensselaer. Along the way, they were greeted by President Shirley Ann Jackson, who handed out metal water bottles emblazoned with the Rensselaer seal and “Class of 2021.” Students high-fived and bumped fists with Grand Marshal Justin Etzine ’18, President of the Union Matthew Rand ’19, and members of the president’s cabinet. Troy Mayor Patrick Madden also spoke to greet the incoming class before dinner was served in Riverfront Park along the Hudson River. Read more...

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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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