As we conclude the academic year, I want to share some of the changes underway, inspired, in large part, by my conversations with the RPI community. You shared your concerns and aspirations and we have begun pivoting to implementing improvements to carry us forward as we approach our third century. For more detail on the initiatives described below, you can watch the full video from the recent Spring Town Meeting.
RPI’s Financial Well-Being
Approaching the end of FY2023, I remain optimistic about our future. Our fiscal year 2024 budget and five-year projection gives us the resources to continue to plan in earnest and to invest to grow. Our initial focus will be on increasing our faculty and staff levels.
Moving forward, our budget model, which was developed working closely with our portfolio managers, is based on revenue growth in three areas: sponsored research and graduate education, professional education, and philanthropy, and we will devote the resources to these areas to make that growth possible. We will also maintain our excellence and innovation in undergraduate education.
Our Board has approved this budget and fully supports our “invest to grow” approach. All of this support and careful planning does not, however, obviate our responsibility to continuously monitor our progress, external economic and societal influences, and make adjustments as needed. We live in a time of uncertainty, and I understand the need for caution and vigilance.
Pivoting to Action
Our investments for the future have already begun, and I highlight a few of our efforts below:
- $2.4 million investment in Student Life Facilities
Recently, our Board of Trustees approved $2.4 million in Student Life facility investments — developed by the Student Union Executive Board — for five upcoming facilities projects that will benefit our students. The projects include renovations of the Union Games Room, Rathskeller, Mother’s, and RPI Playhouse; development of an outdoor pavilion and multi-use twin outdoor sports courts at Freshman Hill; and the establishment of a recreation and leadership park at Sunset Terrace featuring an outdoor pavilion and Ropes Challenge Course.
- Increasing Support for our Graduate Students
To support our graduate students, we are increasing the stipend by 5.3%. In addition, graduate students with families may take advantage of a limited hourly child-care support program offered through Human Resources. We are also working on a variety of other issues to improve the well-being of our graduate students, such as creating short- and long-term solutions to rising health care costs and food insecurity.
- Increased Stipends for Resident Assistants
In addition to the increased stipend, we will provide a meal plan for all Resident Assistants that will be phased in over two years.
- Adding Juneteenth to our holiday calendar
Beginning next year, RPI will recognize Juneteenth as an Institute holiday, commemorating the nation’s second Independence Day and the end of slavery.
- Expanded Tuition Benefits for Staff, Faculty, and Dependent Children
- Staff Appreciation Days for Winter Break
- Increased Staffing for Facilities Renewal
- Increased Staffing to Support Student Research, Retention, and Success
- Streamlined Procurement Processes
I have reviewed the final report from the Climate Survey Task Force, and it is now available online. I want to thank the Task Force for their hard work. As you will see, they developed a thoughtful set of recommendations, some of which we have already begun to implement. Many of the recommendations will be incorporated into the strategic plan, particularly those recommendations that help foster a welcoming and inclusive community. I will share a more detailed response to the recommendations in the coming weeks.
The strategic planning process is well underway, with five committees — education, research, translation, regional engagement, and welcoming and inclusive community — meeting regularly. You can contribute to this process by submitting your thoughts to the public Idea Bank we established. The working group regularly reviews and discusses the submissions. The initial committee reports are expected in June, with the goal of a complete plan by the end of this calendar year.
As the academic year comes to an end, I want to congratulate all of our students for their hard work and dedication. In addition to their studies, they’ve worked alongside our faculty doing groundbreaking research, presented at conferences, and devoted many hours to community service. Our well-rounded students also excel in sports. Seventy percent of our spring teams are nationally ranked and nine of our football players were recently inducted into the National Football Foundation Honor Society.
This week, we’ll celebrate our Naval ROTC midshipmen and our Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps ROTC cadets who will be commissioned, and the Class of 2023 as they leave RPI to embark on their careers or further studies. Congratulations to them all and to everyone who taught, mentored, coached, and supported them throughout their journey at RPI.
Thank you all for being a part of RPI, and for the grace you have shown Lyn and me in our first year here. We are so blessed to be a part of this community.