First-Year Families Welcome and Reception

It is my great pleasure to welcome the parents, family members, and guardians of the Class of 2026, and of the Architects of the Class of 2027. We are thrilled you and your sons and daughters have joined Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute!

As you may know, this is also a new beginning for me. I rejoined RPI in July as President, more than 40 years after graduating with my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1981. Since then, I spent my career at MIT, where I served as a faculty member, Associate Provost, and then Provost for the last 14 years. I often say, RPI got me to MIT, and MIT got me back to RPI!

When my wife, Lyn, and I took some time last fall to explore RPI and downtown Troy before joining the university, we were struck by how beautiful the campus was, as well as how much more vibrant Troy had become. I accepted this amazing opportunity because I believe that RPI stands on a solid foundation, with a long and distinguished history of accomplishments. As I spent the last months becoming more familiar with RPI, I am even more convinced of the extraordinary prospects before us. 

This is one of the most exciting times in RPI history. We have welcomed the largest first-year group of undergraduate students in the history of RPI. With enrollment at 2,012 strong, this class bucks the national trend of declining college enrollment. 

The students also represent the strongest academic class in the history of Rensselaer, with 64 high school valedictorians or salutatorians, and nearly 100 students with perfect SAT critical reading, math, or ACT scores. The Class of 2026 is one of the most diverse ever, and includes the most women in an RPI entering first-year class (29%), as well as the most underrepresented minorities (18%).

Our faculty members also represent the best and brightest in their fields of study. They are passionate about teaching and research, and invite students to work alongside them in their labs to conduct research to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. 

The opportunities here are endless. With more than 200 clubs in our Student Union, your sons and daughters have the chance to immerse themselves in numerous activities outside of the classroom. They also can participate in our intramural sports program, take part in a musical or theatrical group, join a fraternity or sorority, or try their hands at student government.

We ask that you encourage them to experience all that RPI has to offer.

Over the next few days, your son or daughter will take part in Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond, or NRB, a series of events designed to introduce them to RPI, to each other, and to the local community. I have many fond memories of my first year as an undergraduate, and the friendships and relationships that I was able to create with other fellow students. The friendships our students form in their first year really are special relationships that carry on throughout their four years and, as in my own case, throughout their lives.

I want to thank you for placing your trust in us. We will take the utmost care of your students and we look forward to seeing how they will embrace Rensselaer’s motto, “Why not change the world.”

And now I’d like to introduce a video of last year’s NRB experience to give you an idea of what your sons and daughters might be doing over the next few days.

Thank you for entrusting us with your precious sons and daughters who have so much to offer to RPI, the nation, and the world.

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