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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Student Life Committee Meeting - May 18, 2017

From the President's Desk

Re: Student Life Committee Meeting - May 18, 2017

Board of Trustees - Student Life Committee Meeting
May 18, 2017
10:20 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Bruggeman Room – CBIS

Trustees Present

Arthur Golden '66 
Mark Little '82
Neal Barton '58  
Curtis Priem '82
Janet Rutledge '83, Acting Committee Chair
Wanda Denson-Low '78
Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Ex-officio

Faculty Present

John Tichy

Staff Present

Travis T. Apgar
Lee McElroy
Craig Cook
Claude Rounds
Stan Dunn
Jonathan Wexler
Richie Hunter

Students Present

Samantha Bliss
Shannon Gillespie-McComb
Marvin Corsare
Lindsey Hylaw
Sean Ferracioli
Paul Ilori
Charles Kirchner
Erica Lane
Matthew Rand
Spencer Scott

Review/Approval of Minutes

The meeting was called to order at 11:07 a.m.

The minutes for the May 2017 Student Life Committee were submitted for approval.

Student Life Update Presentation

Travis T. Apgar, Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students

  • Apgar returned to Rensselaer in January 2017 after spending 10+ years at Cornell University as the Senior Associate Dean of Students.
  • Since arriving, Apgar has spent considerable time with students and student groups, student leaders such as the GM and PU, and including non-traditional leaders, to gain a relevant perspective on today's Rensselaer.
  • His interactions have informed him that Rensselaer students have a high desire to interact with staff and administration. As solution oriented individuals, students stand ready and willing to provide input and feedback on projects and initiatives. Student Life is committed to student engagement.
  • The ongoing conversations with students and groups have provided opportunities to challenge the students to increase their commitment to address social concerns, increase student participation in activities such as sporting event attendance (beyond ice hockey), as their love for Rensselaer is contagious.
  • Apgar briefly updated on Student Life reorganization, committed to moving forward.
  • Apgar provided a brief update on Summer Arch Pilot I – Summer 2017. Shared participation numbers and planned experiences, timetable for Pilot II – Summer 2018, and full implementation in 2019. Scaling for each phase is being planned and we will be ready.
  • How CLASS (Clustered Learning, Advocacy and Support for Students), the student experience paradigm at Rensselaer, is realized across the student living experience was reviewed. As of Fall 2017 residence halls will be clustered by class cohort, and a residential curriculum which combines experiential programming and intentional interactions to engage students in their personal and professional development – achieve the desired outcomes of intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication and a global view.
  • Apgar then introduced the outgoing Grand Marshal, Paul Ilori '17, and President of the Union, Charles "Chip" Kirchner '17 and newly elected and incoming Grand Marshal, Justin Etzine '18, and Matthew Rand '19.

President of the Union Presentations

127th President of the Union, Charles "Chip" Kirchner '17

  • Kirchner shared his experience in the position, points of growth and highlights and a list of accomplishments he is most proud of.
  • The Executive Board of the Student Union, with great leadership of Shannon Gillespie-McComb '17, voted to create a Veteran Student Lounge in the Union and has reworked existing spaces to accommodate. Physical work to prepare the space will take place over the summer of 2017.
  • Kirchner talked about the student climate, the work he and his fellow Student Union Executive Board members have engaged in during their term.

128th President of the Union, Matthew Rand

  • Rand follow-up on the Veteran's Student Lounge, discussing programmatic need and benefits.
  • He also discussed the creation of the Multicultural Organizations Programming Board, brought together to facilitate culturally orientated student groups programming resources needs, collective scheduling, pooling of resources and information sharing.
  • Rand discussed an agenda to create and fulfil an 8-year facility plan for the Student Union. With the debt service nearly paid off, it is the right time to think about remodeling and potential expansion.
  • Lastly, Rand shared a few examples of how the next Executive Board plans to take advantage of technology, such as the "tap-in" attendance system for meetings and possibly for votes; and, a GPS tracking system to be used for Rensselaer Shuttles to inform students of location and arrival times.

Grand Marshal Presentations

151st Grand Marshal, Paul Ilori '17

  • Ilori reported on progress made during his term – Academic Year 2016-2017, which included increased coordination with Institute portfolios (specifically Human Resources, Vice President Powell and Strategic Communications, Vice President Hunter); completion of the Undergraduate Research Website, and improvements to the Rensselaer shuttle tracking system.

152nd Grand Marshal, Justin Etzine '18

  • Etzine discussed his believed importance to furthering administrator–student relationships, which the past year has brought even stronger relations between administrators, staff, faculty and students.
  • A primary goal of his term in office is to further nurture those positive and productive relations.
  • Another goal is to raise the standard of professionalism and accountability for student government. To provide a welcoming and inviting meeting setting for all students to attend.
  • Etzine also committed to improving on communicating with the student body on projects and advocacy in student government.

Questions and discussion items

  • Are there other spaces similar to the Veteran's Lounge?
    • The multicultural lounge was discussed.
    • Dr. Jackson added that we should think about the Off Campus Commons as an expansion of campus and that we may consider renovating additional spaces along our campus borders to serve these kinds of purposes.
  • How will the Veteran's Lounge educate others?
    • Gillespie-McComb working closely with the Veteran's Student Association to tell their stories, educate people about their service.
    • President Jackson commented that we strive to graduate students who have acquired "intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication and a global view." These students have had life experiences through the military and have a unique contribution to make.
  • Ilori shared that the development of the Student Union and the position of Grand Marshal links back to military veterans.
  • Dr. Jackson shared brief overview of Student Life reorganization.
    • Student Support and resources
    • Veteran Affairs position
    • Multicultural Affairs position
  • Chairman Golden added that it is good to recognize the service of our Veterans in this way.


A motion to adjourn the meeting was made and seconded. The meeting adjourned at 12:11 p.m.