As we begin this new academic year, I want to remind you of some changes that we have made, and share with you some exciting new changes we are implementing with the goal of improving our ability to deliver on our mission.
We previously announced important new additions to our leadership team including the Provost, Rebecca Doerge, Ph.D.; Chief Strategy Officer and Vice President for Institutional Impact, May Lee, J.D.; and Associate Vice President and Athletics Director, Kristie Bowers, Ph.D. We also recently announced the creation of a new Office of Strategic Alliances and Translation led by Jonathan Dordick, Ph.D.
Focus teams for operational excellence
As I have worked with our senior leadership team, we have also identified ways to operate more effectively. One way is through “focus teams.” In addition to the Cabinet, which is comprised of our senior leaders, we have begun implementing smaller leadership groups that meet with me and our Provost, Rebecca, to focus on specific areas of activity. As one example, since last academic year, a CHIPs Team has met weekly to ensure that we are maximizing our opportunities associated with the federal government’s $52 billion commitment to semiconductors. I am happy to say that we have had some great wins because of these efforts, including the most recently announced $40 million DoD award to a hub comprised of RPI, UAlbany, Cornell, and IBM. The CHIPs team includes Vice President for Research Robert Hull, Ph.D.; Shekhar Garde, Ph.D., the Dean of Engineering; Mary Simoni, Ph.D., Dean of HASS and formerly Acting Provost; and a consultant, Dr. Bijan Davari.
We also established a Coordinating Team to track our ongoing new efforts, particularly in regional engagement. This team includes our Chief Financial Officer, Eileen McLoughlin; May Lee; Jonathan Dordick, Vice President for Strategic Alliances and Translation; and Jenn Brock, Manager of President's Office Operations and Board Relations.
As new teams are created, we will add them to the Leadership website as we continue to stand by our commitment to transparency.
Commitment to student experience and academic excellence
Since Rebecca joined as our Provost on August 1, we have worked with members of Cabinet to begin the process of reviewing how to maximize student success.
In the Rensselaer Forward Education Committee report, which we will release soon, the committee observes, “[l]earning is physically unbounded, intentional and synergistic – occurring in/out of classrooms, in residential settings, in labs, and in affiliative settings (clubs, athletics)…” This explicit recognition illustrates the importance of our Student Life team, which provides core components of an RPI education. As such, we have decided that to ensure stronger integration between Student Life and the Provost’s Office, Student Life will move into the Provost’s Office. This strengthened alignment of the Schools and Student Life within the office deepens our focus on our top priority – RPI students.
As we began conversations regarding this possible transition, Peter Konwerski, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Life, expressed to me his desire to step away from his current VP role after his 30-year career as a Student Life professional, including 15 years spent in leadership roles. We are grateful that Peter has agreed to a one-year transition during which time he will remain the Vice President of Student Life. Peter has been an exemplary leader and a crucial part of RPI’s leadership team for five years, and we hope to extend his tenure with us.
I am also pleased to announce that the Office of Enrollment will partner with and report to the Provost. This announcement formalizes the regular conversations between Jon Wexler, Ed.D., Vice President of Enrollment Management, and his team, and Rebecca and the Provost’s Office that have been ongoing for the last month.
The Dean’s Council, the Office of Graduate Education, the Office of Undergraduate Education, and the Office of Institutional Research will continue to be a part of the Provost’s Office.
These enhancements position us for success by fostering more meaningful alignments, and focusing on areas of excellence and strategic importance. As we continue to move forward, we will keep you up to date on new improvements.