Rensselaer Receives Record Gift: $360 Million
Troy, N.Y.Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute received earlier this month a gift of $360 million, the largest gift ever to a single U.S. college or university.The anonymous donor who pledged $130 million to RPI in December replaced the earlier gift with one almost triple in size, and gave the institute complete discretion in its use. The first gift was directed toward the construction of two major facilities: The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and the Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center.“A gift of this magnitude, offered to the university fully unrestricted, is unprecedented,” says Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “The remarkable generosity of this donor will enable Rensselaer to move boldly into new arenas that are vital for society.”According to RPI officials, the gift will allow the university to more than double its research activity and its graduate enrollment in the next five years by creating new programs in biotechnology and information technology, as well as to undertake a number of additional strategic initiatives.The Rensselaer Plan, the strategic plan for the university, was launched by Jackson shortly after her inauguration in the fall of 1999. The plan calls for building research programs of world-class standing in selected areas of promise in biotechnology and information technology. The comprehensive research goal calls for more than doubling research activity over a five-year span, doubling the size of the graduate school and developing programs in additional research arenas. In addition to research initiatives, the priorities for the first year of the plan also include programs to enhance the student experience and campus life, and to grow and enhance faculty.Rensselaer has chosen four focal areas in which to build new programs in biotechnology: functional tissue engineering, integrative systems biology, biocomputation and bioinformatics, and biocatalysis and metabolic engineering.Founded 175 years ago, RPI was the first degree-granting technological university in the English-speaking world. The university has 4,520 undergraduate students, 1,839 graduate students, 346 full-time faculty members and approximately 40 part-time faculty.Excluding the recent gift, the university’s endowment is $700 million.
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