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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Remarks at United Way Kick-Off Breakfast

Category: Regional
October, 2018
Russell Sage Dining Hall Banquet Room
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Good morning, and welcome to the official launch of our 2018 United Way Fundraising Campaign.

This morning, we are fortunate to have with us Mr. Peter Gannon of the Rensselaer Class of 2011, and President and CEO of the United Way of the Greater Capital Region; Ms. Lisa Audi, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications; and Mr. Jim Mulligan, Vice President of Resource Development of the United Way of the Greater Capital Region. We also welcome Ms. Neenah Bland, of the Albany Community Action Partnership, which the United Way supports.

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 Research, for helping to lead this campaign.

I also thank our campaign coordinators: Erika Falle of the School of Science, Cindy Novak of the Provost’s Office, and Mackenzie Wells of Alumni Relations.

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

  • Karyl Contois, of my office,
  • Melissa Anderson,
  • Denise Elwell,
  • Tom Roland,
  • Brian Woods—fleet of foot!  He just won the Rensselaer Runs United 5K Race,
  • JoAnn Drost,
  • Tracey Leibach,
  • Lisa Martin,
  • Bonnie Skarka,
  • Kellie Sprecher,
  • Sachi Vines,
  • Nicole Durrick,
  • Sherry Perpetua, and
  • Grace Vega.

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

I thank each of you, and all of you, for your commitment.

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, we are used to leading. We break new ground here every day, and have for 200 years. Our alumni and alumnae are responsible for everything from the transcontinental railroad and the Brooklyn Bridge, to the microchip and the digital camera, to the first mapping of the complete genetic code of a free-living organism.

Our faculty conduct astonishing research every day. For example, up until now, the only tests for autism spectrum have been behavioral, which obviously makes it difficult to diagnose very young children. However, Professor Juergen Hahn has devised the first physiological test for autism, which uses Big Data techniques to analyze the metabolites in a blood sample that predict autism‚ allowing for earlier interventions with a greater chance of success.

We lead, also, as educators, with our undergraduate Information Technology and Web Science program, for example, ranked the very best of its kind in the nation, and our School of Architecture, ranked 13th nationwide.

Our staff and administrators lead every day in creating one of the best students experiences in the nation, and in making Rensselaer such an exciting place to live, learn, and work.

I am proud of all of our accomplishments—but especially proud that Rensselaer leads in generosity and concern for its neighbors. All of you are testament to that.

Once again, with our United Way campaign last year, we were champions in giving among our peers in higher education in the region. We had 277 donors among our employees who contributed an average of nearly $360 each.  And we raised a grand total of $110,516.50 for the United Way—a truly successful year.

This year, I believe we will do even better. We have gotten off to a wonderful start with our second Rensselaer Runs United 5K Race on October 14th.  Our poinsettia and wreath sales begin today.  And we have our very popular Community Fair to look forward to on December 6th —as well as our Thanksgiving Feast on November 15th.

At Rensselaer, we do more than just raise money for the United Way. We celebrate the work that United Way and its partner agencies do to help our neighbors meet their basic needs, to make sure that all children start off with an excellent education, and to help struggling families make their way to financial stability.

We are grateful to the United Way for inspiring us to give back, for offering us the structures that make it easy, and for channeling our generous impulses to the programs that will have the most profound, positive impact.

And now, please join me in welcoming Mr. Peter Gannon, President and CEO of the United Way of the Greater Capital Region.