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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Remarks at United Way Kick-Off Breakfast

Category: Regional
October, 2017
Russell Sage Dining Hall Banquet Room

United Way Kick-Off Breakfast

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

Good morning, and welcome to the official launch of our 2017 United Way Fundraising Campaign.

This morning, once again, we are fortunate to have with us Laura Alpert and Jim Mulligan of the United Way of the Greater Capital Region. I want to welcome, also, the members of the President’s Cabinet and Deans’ Council who have joined us.

I thank my co-chairs, Richie Hunter, Vice President for Strategic Communications and External Relations; Jacqueline Farmer of DotCIO; and Tanya Rautine of the Office of the Vice President for Research, for helping to lead this campaign. I also thank our campaign coordinators: Carly Brackett of the School of Architecture, JoAnn Drost of DotCIO, and Denise Elwell of the Office of Research.

I want to acknowledge, also, our Steering Committee members:

  • Karyl Contois of my office,
  • Ethan Coppenrath,
  • Nicole Durrick,
  • Erika Falle,
  • Tracey Leibach,
  • Lisa Martin,
  • Cindy Novak,
  • Mae Osman,
  • Sherry Perpetua,
  • Bonnie Skarka,
  • Kellie Sprecher,
  • Grace Vega,
  • Sachi Vines, and
  • Brian Woods

And I am grateful to all of our volunteers, too numerous to name.

I thank each of you for your commitment.

I had the great honor this month of accepting the Alexis de Tocqueville Award from the Tocqueville Society of the United Way. The award is named after the great 19th-century French author of Democracy in America, who observed how readily Americans helped their neighbors—all the while insisting that they only were doing the sensible thing.

In accepting the award, I emphasized how proud I am of the generosity of our Rensselaer community in supporting the United Way—and of all of you.

We are problem-solvers here at Rensselaer. I refer not merely to the many engineers in our midst, but also to all of the volunteers here today. We are the spiritual descendants of those practical and effective 19th-century Americans Tocqueville encountered. We roll up our sleeves to help the United Way in its missions of promoting financial security, education, and good health in struggling neighborhoods, and of ensuring that the basic needs of everyone in the region are met. We truly do embody the United Way motto, “United we fight. United we win.”

Because of that spirit, our campaign last year was, once again, a great success. We again were awarded the United Way Partner in Giving Award.

Among Capital Region colleges and universities, we were first, once again, in employee giving, employee per capita giving, the number of donors, and the employee participation rate. Overall, we had the sixth largest campaign for the United Way of the Greater Capital Region, among hundreds of participants.

Our employee pledges and special event fundraising raised just short of $90,000, with 349 donors contributing an average of $257 each. Our goal this year continues to be to increase our participation rate, and the total contribution to this fine organization.

We started our 2017 campaign with a bang, with the inaugural Rensselaer Runs United 5K on October 1. The race drew 157 runners, who raised over $6,700 to benefit the “Dial 2-1-1” program of the United Way of the Greater Capital Region. The 2-1-1 number connects people in our region who need assistance with a trained operator who can steer them to precisely the right place—whether the need is job training, child care, or help with an aging parent.

Once again, I thank each of you for making the Capital Region more than just a section on a map—but a true community of neighbors.

I thank you, also, for participating in the planned fundraising events coming up, including…

  • The poinsettia, wreath, and Christmas tree sales;
  • The Holiday Happy Hour “Dine to Donate,” on November 9th at the Hilton Recovery room;
  • The Thanksgiving Feast on November 16th;
  • And our popular Community Fair on December 7th.