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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Student Life Committee Meeting - October 2016

From the President's Desk

Re: Student Life Committee Meeting - October 2016

Student Life Committee Meeting
Friday, October 14, 2016
9:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Bruggeman Conference Room

Trustees Present

Janet Rutledge
Daniel Pickett, III
Arthur Gajarsa
Howard Blitman
George Campbell, Jr.
Mark Little (via teleconference)
Wanda Denson-Low
Curtis Priem (via teleconference)
Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Ex-officio

Staff Present

Craig Cook
Frank E. Ross, III
Richie Hunter
Jon Wexler
John Tichy
Curtis Powell
Lee McElroy
Jerry Matthews
Claude Rounds
Virginia Gregg

Students Present

Samantha Bliss
Paul Ilori
Jen Church
Tanner Hart
Chip Kirchner

Review/Approval of Minutes

Trustee Campbell called the meeting to order at 9:36 a.m.
The minutes for the May 2016 Student Life Committee meeting were unanimously approved as distributed.

Advancing CLASS: Student Life Restructuring Updates

Frank E. Ross III, Vice President for Student Life

The Division of Student Life is now reorganized into five departments.

Student Transitions
  • Comprised of Pipeline Initiatives, Transfer and Transition Services, Office of the Registrar, Summer Arch, and Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD)
  • Pathways coming to Rensselaer
  • What happens once you get to Rensselaer
  • Important "pivot point" which is the Summer Arch
  • What happens on the way out of Rensselaer
  • An increased focus on effective transition will result in greater success for our students while they are here, and will prepare them for great success beyond Rensselaer.
Student Success
  • Comprised of the Dean for Student Success, First Year Experience, Undergraduate Class Deans, Dean of the Graduate Experience, and Archer Center for Student Leadership Development
  • We realize that sometimes students need additional support, which is "lifting to success" while we build success on success.
  • Made changes to the expectations for our staff, which will allow us to be more effective in our efforts to holistically support student success.
  • Through a new integrated clustered learning approach, our undergraduate class deans will be responsible for working with campus partners to develop educational programming that builds affinity, and leads to our students developing intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication and a global view.
  • These developments will allow us to be more effective in our work through greater attention to student needs and individually-designed interventions will support increased student retention and graduation.
Campus Experience
  • Comprised of Student Living and Learning (residential commons, off campus commons, Greek life commons), Rensselaer Union, and Student Rights, Responsibilities and Judicial Affairs
  • As a residential university, our students live here. The campus experience represents where our students live—residential commons, off campus commons, Greek life commons, and what they do while they are here—including student conduct, as well the many campus activities through the Rensselaer Union.
  • We know that students' involvement outside of the classroom plays a strong role in their success. The Campus Experience provides a comprehensive platform for students' co-curricular learning.
  • Comprised of all NCAA intercollegiate athletic teams.
  • Represents a big part of our tradition at Rensselaer.
  • Athletics remains a meaningful way for us to engage hundreds of scholar-athletes in the fabric of Student Life.
Student Support and Resource Centers
  • Comprised of Religious Affairs, Student Health and Wellness (health center, counseling center, student disability services, and athletic training), Multicultural Programs, and Military and Veteran Student Services.
  • Student health and wellness is foundational for our students.
  • At the core of where many of our students need support.
  • Additionally, the development of new resource centers will allow us to give greater attention and support for specific populations of students.
  • While expanding our opportunities to provide education for ALL of our students.
  • These support and resource centers will play a key role in student success, and will help support an intentionally inclusive campus community which is an important factor in student retention and graduation.
Faculty Dean for Clustered Learning
  • Will allow for greater alignment between Student Life and the academic portfolio.
  • Will strengthen what we are doing through CLASS by providing more opportunities for faculty involvement.
  • These developments will lead to opportunities for stronger faculty and student engagement outside of the classroom—which we know is very important for student success.
Effective Interviewing
  • Students have been involved in the interview process for assistant vice president positions in Student Life. Their participation and feedback on candidates has been very helpful.
  • Human Resources developed interview skills training for student leaders that involved: Legal context; overview of the Student Life leadership positions; assessment of skills; interview questions, and interview role-playing.
  • Technology allows for both in-person and video interviews with candidates.
  • Human Resources will be conducting interview skills training for the entire Student Senate and E-Board.

Questions and discussion included:

  • Candidates are recruited from across the country using an executive search firm to assist in the recruitment process.
  • The leadership structure has been expanded to include assistant/ associate vice presidents over each area within the portfolio.

Class of 2020

Jon Wexler, Vice President for Enrollment Management

Rensselaer Class of 2020
  • Largest freshman class ever, and includes the largest number and percentage of underrepresented minority students enrolled (+34%)
  • Largest number of females enrolled (+20%)
  • Increase in Medalist enrollment (+17%)
  • Increased enrollment in Architecture (+43%) & HASS (+25%)
  • Decline in Lally enrollment (-17%)
Increase in admissions activity
  • 2,880 rising juniors and seniors visited campus. 100 domestic and international college counselors visited campus.
  • Admissions staff members traveling, attending over 900 visits, fairs, and recruitment events.
  • The Admissions Office will have over 3,000 students visiting campus during the Fall Term.
  • Review over 1,000 Applications for Early Decision I & II.
  • The admissions staff will review over 16,000 applications in under 100 days, and acceptances will be posted simultaneously online.
  • The Office of Financial Aid generates over 7,000 financial aid packages within 24 hours of acceptances going out.
  • Over 2,000 admitted students and 700 Junior/Sophomores will visit campus
  • This admissions staff will attend over 200 fairs nationally. These fairs are geared to juniors, sophomores, and freshmen.
Questions and discussion items included:
  • Most underrepresented minority students come primarily from the Northeast, and there is also great interest from areas in the south.
  • Gender and underrepresented minority student breakdown by school.
  • Enrollment in the computer science program.
  • First year retention rate is 95%, which represents an increase from last year.
  • Summer Bridge involved nearly 40 participants this summer. A full presentation on this topic will be given at the December committee meeting.

Supporting students through enhanced safety and security measures

Dr. Jackson, Dr. Ross, Claude Rounds, Jerry Matthews, Richie Hunter

Comprehensive Campus Safety Plan
  • Service oriented approach and expanded community policing, including, bike patrols, walking tours, unconscious bias training, student leader engagement, increased education and outreach, crime prevention program, RAD Training Program
  • Increased interaction with students through Public Safety "Safety and Security Forums" and "Dinner with Public Safety"
  • Campus safety and lighting Tours
Initial Risk & Vulnerability Assessment
  • Tasked by the President to take a critical look at our current safety and security efforts.
  • Presented a summary of campus crime incidents as detailed in the 2016 Clery Report
  • Crime mapping, profiles and frequency were reported.
  • Public Safety is engaging in peer benchmarking for best practices
  • Pubic Safety has identified student density and activity "hot spots" as well as street corridors most used by students
Expanded Shuttle Bus Service for students
  • Extended route of existing East Shuttle – Tibbits Ave
  • New weekend late night / early morning shuttle for campus and downtown areas
  • Plans to upgrade shuttle tracking system
Goals for a comprehensive safety and security program
  • Strengthen the understanding of campus safety throughout the Rensselaer community
  • Share important security information with the Rensselaer community to help individuals
  • Exercise appropriate precautions to protect personal safety and property
  • Foster the understanding that safety is a shared responsibility among everyone at Rensselaer
Communication for a safety program will:
  • Promote campus safety awareness
  • Provide crime prevention information, tips and resources
  • Reinforce safety information and usage of safety programs and resources
  • Reinforce service-oriented approach to public safety

Questions and discussion items included:

  • Troy Police Department has a number of cameras throughout the city. They are very helpful partners to us.

Student Leader Presentations

Chip Kirchner '17, President of the Union

  • Announced that the Rensselaer Union Executive Board includes four new members from Class of 2020.
  • Current projects include working to improve Union facilities; improving access to study space for students in the Union; adding performance space following Academy Hall Auditorium remodeling; and collaborative events to create coherent collective programs; updating policies to reflect increased attention to risk management, and the Summer Arch Activity Committee
  • Discussed the reporting structure for the Director of the Union. In keeping student leadership tradition, the preference is to have the Director of the Union report to the Vice President for Student Life. The Director has a strong role in advocating on behalf of students, and this tradition has worked effectively for many years. Students want to maintain the ability to learn leadership unencumbered through the Union, and indicated a change in reporting structure would foster good will.

Paul Ilori '17, Grand Marshal

  • Discussed current Senate projects, which include: preferred names; research related to a possible on-campus pharmacy; green revolving fund, a review of study spaces; cooperation with Faculty Senate on Core Curriculum and other projects; collaboration with IFC and Panhellenic Council, and Troy BID.
  • The Senate continues to be engaged in planning for the Summer Arch. They are getting students involved in the planning committees, and reaching out for questions, concerns and feedback.
  • Future initiatives for Senate includes adding future planning to Senate documentation, and determining what in student government structuring will change for Summer Arch.

Questions and discussion items included:

  • Students understand the rationale for the restructuring in Student Life and have begun to see positive outcomes.
  • There have not been operational changes in the Union. We will wait and see the effectiveness of the new structure once we have the Director of the Union in place.


A motion to adjourn the meeting was made and seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 11:15 am.