Remarks at Boston Patent Law Association Annual Dinner

Category: Regional
May, 2017
John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse

Boston Patent Law Association Annual Dinner

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

I am so delighted to join the Boston Patent Law Association for its annual dinner in honor of the federal judiciary, and the Honorable Arthur J. Gajarsa, who is being recognized with the Distinguished Public Service Award.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the oldest technological (research) university in the United States. We educate engineers and scientists; and graduates of Rensselaer have invented many of the technologies that shape our lives—including the microprocessor, the digital camera, and networked email across distributed servers (through the use of the @ [at] sign in our digital addresses).Importantly, we also offer a technologically-inflected education to those will become some of the world’s greatest architects, business leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, economists, physicians, and, of course, jurists.

As we view the landscape of discovery and innovation, we are keenly aware of how important intellectual property law is, in protecting and encouraging innovation, which powers our national and the global economy. We are very proud to have educated hundreds of prominent attorneys, judges, and other professionals breaking new ground in the field of intellectual property law.

They include Monica Grewal, a partner at WilmerHale and President, as you know, of the Boston Patent Law Association, who received a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer in 1988.

They include, also, Judge Richard Linn of the Rensselaer Class of 1965, who was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 1999.

There, he joined Judge Arthur Gajarsa of the Rensselaer Class of 1962, who was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in 1996, also by President Bill Clinton, and served for 15 years, retiring in June 2012.

That meant that for thirteen years, two of the members of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, with nationwide jurisdiction over appeals of intellectual property cases, were Rensselaer graduates. While we educate our students for deep knowledge in their chosen fields—since you have to know something to do something—we expect them, as well, to understand the value of seeing across a broader intellectual milieu. Judge Gajarsa and Judge Linn, both trained first as electrical engineers, exemplify such perspective.

While Judge Gajarsa’s extraordinary service on the bench, and in intellectual property law, is the reason he is being honored this evening, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, we cherish him for his stunning career achievements, and for his remarkable contributions to the next generations of leaders in our innovation ecosystem.

A member of our Board of Trustees since 1994, Judge Gajarsa was elected Chairman of the Board in December 2010, and served with distinction in that leadership role until the end of last year. He brought the same judiciousness he developed on a national stage to Rensselaer. His advice and counsel have been crucial to my leadership—and to Rensselaer, as together, we have transformed it into the world-class technological research university, with global reach and global impact, that it is—while retaining and strengthening its historically unique undergraduate college experience with the advantages and leading edge intellectual strengths of a research-focused university.

Judge Gajarsa has helped us to strengthen our intellectual property focus and refine our intellectual property policies, crucial to our corporate partnerships, and exploitation of intellectual property.

With Judge Gajarsa’s great care for students, and his strong belief in broadening student’s perspectives, we have implemented a new approach to student life—CLASS: Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students—which focuses on residential and developmental clustering as a key mechanism for student growth and development. We also have implemented new academic concentrations, for example, in Neuroscience, and a new B.S. degree program in Music.

There is a lot more to tell, but the time is short. But, I must say that we are grateful to Judge Gajarsa, as well, for serving as a role model for our students. As you know, Judge Gajarsa is the very essence of intellectualism and civility—in the courtroom, in the boardroom, and in the classroom. We are very proud to call him one of our own.

I congratulate the Boston Patent Law Association for its great wisdom in honoring Judge Gajarsa. And I thank you again for inviting me.