Retirement of Curtis Powell, Vice President for Human Resources

Martin Schmidt '81, Ph.D., President
The Rensselaer Community

Please join me in extending best wishes and congratulations to Curtis Powell, our Vice President for Human Resources, who is retiring from Rensselaer on January 1, 2023. Curtis let me know shortly after I began as President that he wished to retire. I am grateful that he stayed on for the past several months to assist me in my start up, and I will very much miss his wisdom and sage advice.

In June 2000, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson appointed Curtis as Rensselaer's first Vice President for Human Resources. During his time in this role, he was responsible for the strategic leadership of human resources, including talent acquisition; wage and salary administration; executive compensation; employee relations; Title IX; professional and organizational development; diversity, equity, and inclusion; benefits administration; environmental health and safety; and risk management. 

In addition, Curtis served as an officer of the Institute and human resources consultant to the President and Executive Leadership team, contributing to the strategic transformation of Rensselaer. He chaired the Institute-wide retirement and financial conflict of interest and commitment committees. As a visionary and results-driven professional, he implemented innovative human resources programs by fostering strategic collaborations and building partnerships across academic and administrative units. He supported the recruitment process for me to become Rensselaer’s 19th President. 

Curtis led the implementation of Institute-wide compensation structures, ensuring internal and external pay competitiveness by implementing a new staff position classification structure, Institute-wide performance management, a merit-based pay system, a three-tiered faculty pay structure, and a contingent faculty classification structure. He also led the implementation of Rensselaer's COVID testing lab and centralized the recruitment and selection of faculty and staff. During his tenure, Curtis executed a comprehensive and affordable benefits program for faculty, staff, and retirees and implemented a de-risking strategy for the defined benefit plan. 

Curtis was instrumental in improving the gender and ethnic diversity of faculty and staff and creating Institute-wide Human Resources, Title IX, and conflict of interest guidelines and policies. He also worked with research faculty to create a culture of safety, led the campus-wide implementation of the chemical receiving and inventory management system, and launched a state-of-the-art online learning management system.

Prior to joining Rensselaer, Curtis served as Corporate Director of Human Resources for Suburban Hospital-Johns Hopkins Medicine and Vice President for Bon Secours Baltimore Health System that consisted of two acute care hospitals and 21 offsite facilities. His experience also includes his time as Vice President for Member and Chapter Services for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM); Director of Human Resources, Environmental Health & Safety for the University of Maryland Baltimore County; Director of Human Resources, Bowie State University; and Manager of Compensation and Employment Operations at the University of Maryland, College Park Campus. He was a recipient of the State of Maryland Governor's Citation as a Healthcare Coordinator of the Year and as Most Valued Employee of the Year.

Curtis is a life member of SHRM and received the SHRM Economic Stimulus Award. He has published several HR articles, received the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources Diedrich K. Willers Award, served as president of CUPA-HR Washington-Baltimore Chapter, and was a member of the American Society of Healthcare Human Resources Association (ASHHRA). In addition, he was awarded the Suburban Hospital Healthcare System Nurse of the Year Award, presented at the Harvard School of Professional Development Conference and the CUPA National Conference, and served as a member of the Segal Sibson Human Resources Higher Education Thought Leaders and Advisory Council. He is a member of Aon Pathfinders Higher Education Thought Leaders and Advisory Council, chaired the TIAA Advisory Council, and is a member of the Fidelity Client Advisory Board. 

In the greater Capital Region, Curtis served on the board of the Albany Capital Region Chamber of Commerce, St. Peter's Health Partners, the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York, and TrustCo Bank. 

Please join me in thanking Curtis for his leadership, service, and devotion to Rensselaer and his commitment to the Capital Region. We extend to him and his wife, Renee, our best wishes for good health and much happiness in retirement. 

Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement, and HRIS, will oversee the division as we begin a national search for a Vice President for Human Resources.

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