Remarks at 54th Annual Faculty Recognition Dinner

Category: University Events
May, 2017
Heffner Alumni House Great Room

54th Annual Faculty Recognition Dinner

Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

I thank all of our guests for joining us here to celebrate our remarkable faculty. And my congratulations to all of the faculty members we are honoring tonight.

Since this is the 54th annual Faculty Recognition Dinner, Yamada Corporation Professor William Wallace of our Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, celebrating his 55th year of service, was already a member of the faculty when it was initiated. And Professor Harry McLaughlin of our Department of Mathematical Sciences, celebrating his 50th year of service, joined when the tradition was still new.

I thank all of those we honor tonight for 25 years or more of service—and our retiring faculty—for your loyalty to Rensselaer. It is your deep feeling for the Institute, and your respect for each other, that is allowing our vision for Rensselaer as “The New Polytechnic” to be realized—and for the university to serve as a crossroads for collaborations across disciplines that address the great challenges of our day.

At Rensselaer, our faculty belong to a great tradition of groundbreaking research, innovative teaching, and unwavering respect for the potential of the next generation of discoverers and innovators.

We are proud of the remarkable research that our faculty contribute to the world—and of the recognition you bring to Rensselaer. We include among our ranks four members of the National Academy of Engineering, three members of the National Academy of Inventors, one member of the National Academy of Sciences, 176 Fellows of technical and professional societies, 63 CAREER Award recipients, and numerous recipients of national and international awards.

We are proud as well, of all that you contribute as teachers and mentors. Congratulations to Professor Yalun Zhou of the Department of Communication and Media, whom we honor with the Class of 1951 Outstanding Teaching Award, and to Professor Dorit Nevo of the Lally School of Management, whom we honor with the Trustees’ Outstanding Teacher Award.

All of you belong to a long line of remarkable educators at Rensselaer, beginning with our academic founder Amos Eaton. He was not merely a pioneering geologist and botanist, he was a pioneer in teaching as well: the first educator in the world to offer organized instruction in field work, and one of the first to make laboratory experiments conducted by the students themselves part of instruction in chemistry and physics.

In his 1914 history of Rensselaer, ninth President Palmer Ricketts claims that Amos Eaton was ahead even of Baron von Liebig, the father of organic chemistry, and of Lord Kelvin, the great physicist, mathematician, and engineer, in bringing students into the laboratory.

Amos Eaton also believed that young women were as innately capable in science and mathematics as young men—but simply lacking in opportunities, which he sought to provide. The world is still working to catch up to Amos Eaton in his sophistication and common sense.

Indeed, as all of you extend and deepen the tradition of Amos Eaton, you make Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute the special place that it is. That is why, tonight, we honor and celebrate you.

Thank you, for all you do for the world, for our students, and for Rensselaer.