A good leader must be a master of collaboration, which includes uncovering, communicating, and building upon the common values of participants with different backgrounds—honoring the unity that underlies their diversity. This moves the focus from the losses resulting from compromise to the benefits created by cooperation, encouraging the people working on solutions to put aside conflict and bring the fullness of their talents and skills to the endeavor.
This is not to say the differences between people go away; in fact, they should not. Effective leaders must create environments that welcome different opinions, but ensure their expression is thoughtful and well-meaning. Part of achieving this depends on the culture of the community, and Rensselaer traditions encourage openness to new ideas, critical thinking, logic, and rigor. This ensures just hearings of unconventional concepts and concerns and fair resolution of any conflicts.
Through our work in making The New Polytechnic part of the fabric of Rensselaer, we have built a knowledge base on how to meet the organizational and technological challenges that emerge from work across disciplines.
We have seen that the most important part to get right is finding ways to collaborate more effectively. The more complex the issues, the greater the challenge in scaling up collaboration. The thoughtful use of new tools promises to offer new options for helping people work together.
The future will require leaders with powerful capabilities in collaboration, with the skills to recognize and communicate the unity underlying diversity. Sometimes this will mean immersion in unfamiliar cultures. Sometimes technology will lend a hand. But in all cases, the result will be broader, more innovative solutions.
President Shirley Ann Jackson has been presented with the National Medal of Science, the highest honor for scientific achievement bestowed by the United States government. It was presented by President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony in May. The award honors individuals deserving of special recognition for their outstanding cumulative contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or behavioral or social sciences, in service to the nation.
"These scientific laureates exemplify the American spirit and ingenuity that have enriched our society and the global community in profound and lasting ways," President Obama said at the ceremony. "Their ambition and accomplishments are an inspiration to the next generation pursuing careers in the essential fields of science, technology, engineering, and math."
At Rensselaer, President Jackson has undertaken a transformation of the university's pedagogical approach with the implementation of The New Polytechnic, emphasizing collaboration across disciplines, sectors, and regions to address key intersecting challenges and opportunities in energy security, health, food, water, and national security, as well as the linked challenges of climate change and allocation of scarce resources so critical to our future.
In 2014, President Obama appointed President Jackson as co-chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, which assesses issues pertaining to the quality, quantity, and adequacy of intelligence activities. In 2011, she co-authored a report to the President offering an overarching strategy for revitalizing the leadership of the nation in manufacturing.
HALLMARK OF EXCELLENCE
The Lally School of Management has maintained its business accreditation by AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
AACSB Accreditation is the hallmark of excellence in business education, and has been earned by less than 5 percent of the world's business programs. Today, there are 755 business schools in 51 countries and territories that hold AACSB Accreditation.
"We are committed to giving Lally School students an exceptional learning environment where they integrate technology across business functions, apply the latest research to real-world business challenges, and engage directly with big data and powerful computing resources through hands-on projects and teamwork from day one," said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School of Management. "Lally students also benefit from the personal attention they receive in small classes and quality faculty at Rensselaer to enhance their ability to guide businesses toward addressing global grand challenges while they pursue business opportunities."
ADVANCING SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS WORLDWIDE
In June, President Shirley Ann Jackson co-chaired the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China. In her role as co-chair, President Jackson participated in a debate on the role of corporate-led research in advancing scientific progress, a televised session in which she discussed the key elements of an innovation ecosystem that translates research results into technological innovations and business opportunities.
"The Annual Meeting of the New Champions provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the convergence of the digital, physical, and biological worlds," President Jackson said. "This dialogue gave us the opportunity to assess this crossroads in conjunction with the great, global, human challenges we face today and work together with influential leaders from top organizations around the world toward a future that addresses these challenges—from a changing climate to the mitigation of disease."
Joining her for a discussion of the ways the university is looking beyond the boundaries of academic disciplines and leveraging new computational and biological tools to address transmissible disease were Rensselaer faculty members Jonathan Dordick, vice president for research and Howard P. Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Heng Ji, Edward P. Hamilton Development Chair Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science.
A one-time leader of American industry, the city of Troy is gaining traction as an intellectual and creative hub—and Rensselaer is playing a significant role. In the past decade, the Institute has financed and renovated high-profile properties, while engaging its students in preservation and neighborhood initiatives.
"RPI is now one of the top five employers in the county. With thousands of employees, a high percent are city residents, and Troy's downtown renaissance has influenced that percentage upward," says Barb Nelson '80, executive director of the Troy Architectural Program (TAP), a nonprofit preservation and neighborhood advocacy organization.
Rensselaer has also devoted significant funds to revitalizing Troy. From 2001 to 2009, the Institute spent more than $10 million in streetscape and utility work as well as homebuyer incentive and renovation grants. The downtown commercial real estate market has benefited from the relocation of roughly 100,000 square feet of administrative space off campus.
After renovating the Gurley Building to include laboratories and offices, for example, the Rensselaer Lighting Research Center opened there in 2000. Through partnerships with private developers, Rensselaer has built housing off campus, including the Howard N. Blitman, P.E. '50 Residence Commons for undergraduates, and the College Suites complex for graduate students, who study up the hill on campus and eat and shop downtown.
And today, the school can take credit for restoring a key section of Troy's center. After investing $1.5 million and a decade of work in stabilizing the old Proctor's Theater and nearby Chasan Building, Rensselaer recently sold these high-profile buildings to a developer and is leasing back space in both buildings.
In June, President Barack Obama announced that the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition will lead the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, in partnership with the Department of Energy.
The coalition brings together a consortium of nearly 200 partners from more than 30 states—and from across academia (including Rensselaer), industry, and nonprofits—to spur advances in smart sensors and digital process controls that can radically improve the efficiency of U.S. advanced manufacturing.
The Institute will focus on innovations such as smart sensors that can dramatically reduce energy expenses in advanced manufacturing, making our manufacturing sector strong today and positioning the United States to lead the manufacturing of tomorrow, helping sustain the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing currently underway.
It also will launch five regional manufacturing centers across the U.S., each focused on local technology transfer and workforce development. Rensselaer will lead the Northeast center, where glass, ceramic, and microelectronics manufacturing have a strong presence.
Rensselaer will be responsible for administering the center for the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute programs, involving regional partners from industry, academia, and government. Overall, the partners will bring more than $140 million in public-private investment from leading universities and manufacturers to develop smart technologies and systems for use in advanced manufacturing.
2016 CITIZEN LAUREATE
President Shirley Ann Jackson has been named a recipient of the University at Albany Foundation's Citizen Laureate Award, for her notable achievements in academia and research. Established in 1977, the Citizen Laureate Awards honor outstanding leaders in business and industry, government, and academia, and are the most prestigious honors bestowed by the foundation.
"Each of our laureates enriches our community in distinctive ways—economically, scientifically, culturally, intellectually, and socially—their efforts are helping to transform our region," said 2016 event chair John Nigro in his congratulatory letter to Jackson.
Rensselaer hosted John O. Brennan, director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), for a conversation on "Technological Change and National Security" with President Shirley Ann Jackson in November.
Essential networks at risk of cyber-attack, terrorists' use of social media to recruit and direct followers, biotechnology techniques for rapid gene editing—the wide-ranging conversation touched on threats and opportunities technology has enabled.
In answering questions, Brennan addressed current threats: the frustration of a newly aggressive Russia, terrorist platforms based on a perversion of religion, a rise in nationalism in the developed world, and a pervasive dissatisfaction with the status quo.
Climate change, and the wide-scale disruption of the environment, is likely to increase tensions within and among nations. And cyber revolution is creating vulnerability for the United States and our allies, at the same time the country grapples with the role of government in the digital domain, Brennan said.