Board extends President Shirley Jackson another 4 years through 2022. I’m wondering what current students and alumni think of this.
As a quiet conservative student on the sidelines watching I can tell you I’m delighted. I fear the moment she leaves that RPI will turn into another SJW run snowflake driven useless humanities university. She’s kept an iron arm control on keeping our school a traditional academic institution with an aversion to the recent social trends that is prevalent in colleges like Black Only Graduation at Harvard, or No Cultural Appropriation Halloween Costumes at Yale, or No Whites on Campus Day at Evergreen College. I’m glad she’s keeping all that nonsense out and keeping it as straightforward academic institution as possible.
I’d like to add, watch out for all the posts after this one that are generated from one-post accounts that will be chiming in with their socialist agenda. There seems to be a lot of that recently especially on the reddit.
Thank you for your response GoRedhead. You bring up very important points and yes, we have a problem on college campuses in this country (as an oldie it seems like the 1960s all over again and I’m hoping this too will pass). I know Ms. Jackson had been controversial which was why I was surprised she had been given the contract. She is also so highly paid - I thought maybe the board was ready to move on from that.
How about Harvard banning single gender organizations? It’s endless. May other institutions of higher learning get back to academics just as RPI remains.
Education is enhanced by diversity and inclusion at RPI as it should be: https://info.rpi.edu/diversity
BagODonuts nobody said education should not include or be enhanced by diversity.
I think the general consensus is meh. No one will dispute that Dr.Jackson has transformed RPI’s campus and has contributed a lot to the school.
On the other hand, she seems to run the school with a very top-down model that includes infringing on student’s freedom of speech, expression, and association. She also suspended the faculty senate for two years when they held a vote of no confidence against her.
The school also had some pretty bad fiscal management before the recession, which dropped our endowment from 900 million to less than 600 million in 2008 (it’s still recovering at 740 million today). This contributed to a drop in rankings for our engineering and science programs, which rebounded but are still not where they used to be.
She also seems to have a problem with things being “student-run” including Greek Life and the Student Union, which has been fought by Save Greek Life and Save the Union. This is where most of the controversy has come from and, as a result, I think they shouldn’t have extended her contract.
Her stay is over-welcome at RPI for most students and faculty. Alumni would probably also agree, especially given the onset of groups calling for new management including Renew Rensselaer and RPI Alumni for Better Governance.
On the plus side, we have a lot of new state-of-the-art buildings and research facilities, there have been extensive renevations to dorms and classrooms, and our research spending is now over $110 million a year (it was only $30 million in 1999). We also have almost 500 faculty members, a much larger student body, and the highest metrics/number of applications in RPI’s history.
RPI’s acceptance rate was roughly 80% in 1999, but now it is around 40% and going down every year. The SAT scores were also less than 1300/1600 in 1999, now the median is a 1420. For reference, Cornell University’s median SAT is a 1430 and it’s an Ivy League school.
Excellent analysis joedoe. I believe I was reading recently that she is after Greek life. That is just wrong. Greek life is an important aspect of any college campus and certainly an addition to Troy. I hope the students can start to win out against her top down model.
@Empireapple As a member of a fraternity, I completely agree. It originally looked a lot more bleak for Greek Life, but it seems like Greek organizations will be mainly untouched. The school will just require a lot more bystander invervention, diversity, and other trainings (which is good) as well as a complete prohibition on alcohol in fraternity houses.
The prohibition is not ideal and will likely cause students to run trap houses off campus, but it’s not unlike what happened at Lehigh and Darthmouth. The negative images in the media and that RPI is putting out has halved recruitment numbers though… incoming students are convinced fraternity members are hooligans.
Members of Greek Life at RPI are just normal people for the most part, with the exception of a few fraternities that have been kicked off campus (they deserved it). I’d say this is a rare case where students are winning a little more than usual given how many rich RPI donors were in Greek Life.
This action shows that it is the Board of Trustees that is the problem.
I am very sorry to hear that the Greek houses are now subjected to prohibition and a strong arm from the school. That is ridiculous. I live in the Capital District and have nothing but a good impression of Greek life at RPI. In fact, they enhance the Troy area which has many problems of its own. I hope the Greek system can find some support either locally or nationally. As far as the local media…the Times Union is a slanted voice for Rex Smith and the the Record should be careful to support the students of RPI who contribute significantly to their city’s economy. I hope alumni donors will give directly to the RPI Greek houses rather than to the school. Non-greek should consider this as well. RPI has to work hard to sell it’s location and Greek life only enhances the school and Troy.
I will say that this appointment that I read about should really help RPI. He was well liked at GW. This is a win for RPI
"To: The Rensselaer Community From: Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy, Professor of Engineering Sciences Re: Dr. Peter Konwerski Appointed Vice President for Student Life
I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Dr. Peter Konwerski as Vice President for Student Life for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Konwerski will begin employment with the Institute on January 2, 2019.
Dr. Peter A. Konwerski is the former Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs at The George Washington University. Dr. Konwerski is a highly accomplished and experienced student life administrator with over 27 years of academic, professional, and leadership experience."
My wife is an alum of RPI and while SAJ has done a number of fine things her management style is “thuggish”. We have been donors to the 'tute in the past but will be withholding our support until she is gone.
Joedoe I’m sorry to hear of the prohibition in fraternity houses. There is no reason adult college students should not have their legal right to drink alcohol.
I have a son at another institution and his dorm has gone heavy handed against alcohol use. The result - kids sit in their rooms and smoke pot. Marijuana is quiet. The attack against alcohol has only pushed pot and drug use as well as an antisocial environment. It reminds me of the elementary teacher who likes her class seated and silent.
bigred76 I hope you and your wife will make it known to the board why you re no longer supporting RPI. If people don’t let them know why the money has stopped flowing, they won’t believe it’s due to SJ.
I have made it clear that I will not donate until SAJ is gone and the Board is reorganized and reconstituted. I really think the Board and SAJ share responsibility 50-50. How has EMPAC improved campus? Is there any cost-benefit (better instruction, better social life)? The same is true about the Athletic Complex and the Parking Garage. I remember watching games in the 86 field, it was awesome and informal. People gathered in various rooms in JEC, on the balcony and under the balcony. The same was true for the hills. I do not remember much going on in the Troy Bldg (which did not house the President’s Office), the Ricketts Building, or the 87 Gym.
Legally the Board is responsible for the financial mess they should be replaced…
A recent release of RPI’s 2017 tax filing shows that Pres. Shirley Ann Jackson earned $5.877 million. How could any college board member continue to support this amount as students struggle with paying for college?
MinnesotaDadof3 I read that article in the paper. Here we are talking about the problem of student college debt and schools like RPI are completely irresponsible in how they are handling their finances. There is nothing Ms. Jackson does that is worth $5.8 million a year. Shame on them! Time for board members, alumni, students and parents to put a stop to this.
When I selected my colleges to apply in the 1980s, I visited RPI and decided not to apply. I applied to a much less competitive school (at the time, admissions wise), Boston U. While I was there, we had a uni president who was as hated as SAJ. He was autocratic and feared. Well he transformed that school from a local to an international university and it is now MORE COMPETITIVE to gain admission than RPI. As they say, sometimes “you need to break a few eggs to make a cake”. That said, we didn’t waste so many $ on a giant sound stage (Empac), instead hiring great professors and expanding the campus with academics and housing which actually impact the lives of students. So nothing wrong with a strong leader, if they make the right decisions. Chiming in since my son attends. Glad he got in before The Arch was mandatory.
blevine agreed however SJ is not seen as a strong leader. She is viewed as a divider who is disconnected from the students and alumni.