RPI administration concerns

<p>My son has been admitted to RPI, and while it wasn't his first choice he was impressed by our recent visit to the campus. That is all good, but in scratching below the surface - reading the student newspaper and online student reviews - there seems to be an undercurrent of discontent among some students and faculty about the school administration. One comment that crops up is that the administration is "greedy" and has its priorities wrong. So I scratched a little deeper. Check out the Wikipedia entry On President Shirley Ann Jackson: Shirley</a> Ann Jackson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia . While she has successfully raised lots of money for the school, she seems to live a rock star lifestyle. I can see how that might engender some resentment from the community.</p>

<p>My personal reaction is that RPI may have been on the edge of sliding into second tier status when she took the helm twelve years ago. The money the school has raised and the facilities it has built since then have reversed that slide. Nevertheless, I wonder if what appears to be a somewhat arrogant management style would hurt my son's experience there. Does RPI turn out great engineers who are jaded, cynical and resentful of authority?</p>

<p>Many college students are resentful, jaded, and cynical (at least on the surface). It goes with youth. My son is also interested in math and science and would have applied had we gotten over Poughkeepsie. I would not worry about the president – not much day to day influence over ordinary students. RPI has a very good eng’g reputation and often gets kids who do not quite make it into Carnegie Mellon and MIT.</p>

<p>Poughkeepsie? You probably meant to say Troy, or maybe you are thinking of Vassar or Marist?</p>

<p>rklindell, I am also getting a little not so great vibe with RPI with all these negative articles about a lot of people in the administration leaving and general slide in ranking the past 4-5 years.</p>

<p>While President Jackson’s salary and the house irk me (because I am the one paying the bills), my S says that President Jackson is not a source of discussion among the students - they are more focused on their day-to-day activities - maybe he hears a joke once in a while, but that is about it.</p>

<p>Most of the other parents I have spoken to are very pleased with President Jackson’s performance and all the money (and new buildings)she has brought to the school. When I mention her salary and the house, most people just shrug it off and say that what is really important is what she is doing for the school overall and the resulting positive impact on the students. It still irks me and is really the one negative point that I have with the school…</p>

<p>As far as turnover of the Administration, that was occurring 3 or 4 years ago, right when my S was considering RPI and a cause for some concern at the time, until further research led to information such as this (from a CC post in January 2009 - I always forget how to do the “quote” thing):</p>

<p>"The three acting Deans are all serious experts in their fields: the dean of architecture, Mark Mistur, is an RPI alumnus. David Spooner has been running the school’s incredible IT degree program, and is now dean of science. Tim Wei, the dean of engineering, was featured recently in the New York Times for his work on fluid dynamics and the U.S. Olympic swim team. All top experts, not to be scoffed at.</p>

<p>The deans that left in those three schools each went on to something AMAZING – opportunities too good to pass up. Alan Balfour, the former dean of architecture, left to return to Georgia Tech as dean of their architecture school. Dean Zhao from the school of science, left to be president of the University of Macao. The dean of engineering, Alan Cramb, was invited to be provost (#2) at Illinois Institute of Technology. These deans did not leave because of problems, and their replacements are incredible educators."</p>

<p>There were also some lay offs at the school , but they were all support staff - no one who taught… and that was 3 or 4 years ago and a response to the slow down in the economy at that time.</p>


I’m not a parent (just a recent alumnus), but I’m actually pretty disappointed with some of the decisions she made - particularly with regards to the exorbitant amount of money recently spent on EMPAC and ECAV. I came to RPI to get a good education, and I would have preferred for the money to have been spent on fostering a better learning environment (say by attracting additional faculty, bringing in more tutors and assistants, granting more student aid, fixing up some of the older buildings, etc.) instead of on turning the campus into a country club. It’s wonderful that RPI now has a wonderful concert hall (complete with a Bösendorfer, a Steinway, and a Fazioli), but was it really the best use of 150 million dollars?</p>


This differs from group to group. I interacted a lot with faculty (and students of faculty) who really disliked the extra red tape and/or budgeting decisions introduced by the current administration, so Professor Jackson’s policies, actions, and so on were often discussed in those contexts. Other professors/students, on the other hand, didn’t particularly care for campus politics (or, at least, were not vocal about it), so they didn’t bother themselves with discussing her latest actions.</p>



<p>I think you’re correct regarding one of the layoffs, but it’s important to note that all of the foreign language faculty were cut at around the same time as well (as part of a different wave, if I recall correctly).</p>

<p>I thought the same thing about EMPAC on a campus tour several months ago. It was impressive, but nearly empty. Same with ECAV and the new fitness club near the freshman dorm complex. Somebody from RPI came to my city a couple years ago and mentioned that Jackson wants to increase the School of Science profile. That makes more sense for RPI and $150M would have gone a long way towards that goal.</p>

<p>Regardless, Jackson is being paid for results and just this past year, RPI slid from 41 to 50 in USNWR. I don’t think RPI’s reputation is as good as when I attended, which is very frustrating.</p>



<p>Yep, EMPAC is pretty empty. However, I want to know when you visited the Mueller Center… usually it’s pretty full. ECAV is full of athletes, very hard to get anything scheduled there. I know novels could be written on how Dr. Jackson is perceived on campus, but I have yet to meet an engineer who was not impressed by RPI. A lot of my friends went to top tier schools like MIT, Purdue, GT… we’re all on the same level.</p>

<p>I have also never met a hiring manager who cares about undergrad rankings. Usually companies just have relationships developed with schools.</p>

<p>EMPAC looked so horribly out of place at RPI. I know, they don’t want to be thought of as only a tech school, but you should try to do what you do well, and for RPI that’s sci/engineering.</p>