Chairman’s Statement to the Community

Dear RPI Communities,

I am very pleased to announce the selection of Martin A. Schmidt as the 19th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) by the Rensselaer Board of Trustees. Dr. Schmidt, currently Provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will assume office at the nation’s oldest and one of the world’s most renowned technological research universities on July 1, 2022.

Dr. Schmidt will succeed Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, who has led an extraordinary transformation of Rensselaer since 1999. She earlier had announced that she will step down as Rensselaer’s 18th President on June 30, 2022.

Marty is a unifying, visionary leader, and a renowned scholar in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I am completely confident that he is the person to continue the remarkable and inspiring path and trajectory that Shirley Ann Jackson has established at RPI during her extraordinary 23-year tenure. His proven ability to lead global, interdisciplinary technological research enterprises, and collaborations with industry and government partners, as well as his bold vision for pedagogical reforms will further advance our Institute’s research, and graduate and undergraduate education, enabling us to continue to develop technological leaders who are global citizens prepared to change the world. And as an RPI undergraduate alumnus we are eager to welcome him home!

Martin A. Schmidt received his B.S. degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1981 during the tenure of Rensselaer President George M. Low, also an RPI alumnus, and earned his S.M. and Ph.D. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983 and 1988, all in electrical engineering. A member of the MIT faculty since 1988, Schmidt served as director of MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories from 1999 to 2006, and as associate provost from 2008 to 2013.

Schmidt has served as MIT’s provost since 2013; he is also the Ray and Maria Stata Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The provost is MIT’s senior academic and budget officer, with overall responsibility for the Institute’s educational programs, as well as for the recruitment, promotion, and tenuring of faculty.

In 2016, Schmidt began a process to reimagine MIT’s approach to building welcoming and inclusive communities. He promoted the creation of resources to support the distributed leadership across campus as they work to improve the climate within their academic areas and undertook a major reorganization of the Institute Community and Equity Office. More recently, he has overseen development of an Institute-wide Strategic Action Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

In 2018, Schmidt played a central role in the creation of the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing. Made possible by a $350 million gift, Schwarzman College represented the most significant organizational change at MIT in 70 years. The College aims to strengthen MIT’s core computer science activities by hiring 25 additional faculty; to bridge disciplines between computer science and other disciplines through recruitment of 25 new joint faculty; and to create a new unit to focus on the social and ethical responsibilities of computing.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I extend our deepest thanks to Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson. Through her unwavering leadership and audacious vision, the Rensselaer campus has been recreated, the undergraduate and graduate student experience has been reimagined and enriched, and we have become leaders in critical areas of research, such as biotechnology, computational innovation, and nanotechnology, as well as in the development of pioneering, popular new pathways in undergraduate education, such as the Arch, Accel, Accel+, E-term, and C-term.

I also wish to express my deep personal thanks to the Presidential Search Committee chaired by John E. Kelly III, ‘78G, ‘80Ph.D. Over the last several months, the Committee explored a vast pool of highly qualified candidates and its work enabled the Board’s selection of an outstanding individual as the new leader of Rensselaer. The Committee’s thoughtful effort and strong commitment are greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank each of you who participated in interviews of the candidates or who otherwise provided input into the search.

Rensselaer today is an exciting place to be and under Dr. Schmidt’s leadership will continue to have a very promising future. Rensselaer’s adventurous innovation and focus on the most important research, technological, and social questions of our time will continue, as will the continued development of global leaders trained and guided to improve humanity and our planet.

I am certain that Marty Schmidt will further raise, inspire, and strengthen RPI’s place in the world.

Arthur F. Golden '66, Chair, Board of Trustees


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