Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

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Presidential Lunch, Wine Pairing, and Tour

Category: National
November, 2019
Castello di Amorosa
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Good afternoon, and welcome to 13th-century Tuscany!

Castello di Amorosa Winery is simply awe-inspiring, is it not? The land upon which this winery was built is home to some of California’s oldest vineyards, first planted in 1846.

The visionary architect of this Tuscan-inspired castle — constructed using 8,000 tons of hand-chiseled local stone, and nearly one million antique bricks imported from Europe — is Mr. Dario Sattui, a fourth-generation winemaker.

Committed to authenticity and to celebrating his Italian heritage, Mr. Sattui employed the same medieval methods of construction that were utilized in the 13th century to build Castello di Amorosa. His labor of love took him 15 years to complete.

That same commitment to authenticity is reflected in the craft of growing and making the classically structured Italian wines we are about to savor.

Of course, what makes this experience all the more special is being here with all of you.

I especially would like to thank Rensselaer trustee, Ed Zander of the Class of 1968, and his wife, Mona, for hosting a wonderful dinner on Friday evening. It was a delightful evening.

I also want to thank Mr. Robert Biale for hosting a delicious lunch and tasting on Saturday at Robert Biale Vineyards, and for participating in our panel discussion together with Rensselaer alumni, Mr. Bill Hart of the Class of 1962, and Mr. David Pearson of the Class of 1994. I hope those of you who attended the panel found it to be as enjoyable and enlightening as I did. I know that we video-recorded the discussion, so we will be sure to post that for all of you.

I also must thank David Pearson for hosting an unforgettable evening at Opus One last night. The food and wine were divine. The ambiance was ideal, and the company a delight.

Also, though they are not with us today, I would like to recognize Dr. Peter Hart of the Class of 1962, and his wife, Diane, for hosting yesterday morning’s hike at the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park.

I also would like to thank the other Rensselaer Trustees joining us:

  • Mr. Frank Fischer of the Classes of 1964 and 1965, and his wife, Jeanne;
  • Ms. Nancy Mueller, who is joined by Mr. Robert Fox;
  • Mr. Daniel T. Pickett III of the Class of 1990 and his wife, Jennifer, who are Co-Chairs of our capital campaign and who made the trip from Saratoga Springs, New York, to be with us;
  • Mr. Curtis R. Priem of the Class of 1982 and his wife, Cindi, who are the proud parents of Gabriel Priem of the Class of 2022; and
  • Mr. Srinivasan “Siva” Sivaram of the Classes of 1985 and 1986, and his wife, Ranjana.

Twenty years into my tenure, I am quite fortunate to have a Board of Trustees whose guidance, support of me, and generous philanthropy to Rensselaer always has been steadfast.

In addition to all of the festivities going on this weekend, there also was important business taking place.

Yesterday morning, the members of the Rensselaer Silicon Valley Executive Council convened for their annual fall meeting. Four of those members are with us today:

  • Dr. John Capek of the Classes of 1983,’84,’85,’87, and ’88, who is the Chair of the Executive Council;
  • Rensselaer Provost, Dr. Prabhat Hajela, who is Executive Council Vice-Chair;
  • Mr. Richard Lotti of the Classes of 1978 and 1979, who is Chair of the Executive Council’s Subcommittee for The Arch; and
  • Ms. Adrienne Roberts, who serves as Chair of the Executive Council’s Parents Subcommittee.

Ms. Roberts and her husband, Bryan, are the proud parents of Russell Roberts of the Class of 2021, who is a student in the School of Engineering.

Also joining us is Ms. Kathryn Murtagh of the Class of 1987, who is the Chair of our Rensselaer New England Executive Council, and who I thank for making the trip from Boston to be with us this weekend.

We also have a robust and growing Executive Council for the Greater New York Region.

The goal of each regional Executive Council is two-fold. First, to offer substantive opportunities for engagement around:

  • Business development;
  • Career advancement;
  • Graduate recruitment;
  • Student placement; and
  • Prospective student recruitment.

Second, to build or expand strategic Rensselaer partnerships that are aligned with our groundbreaking research and our innovative pedagogy, among:

  • Individuals;
  • Corporations;
  • Foundations; and
  • Government agencies.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the members of our Silicon Valley Executive Council for their success in accomplishing both goals, particularly as it relates to The Arch. Working with fellow Council members and leaders from our Center for Career and Professional Development, Mr. Lotti helped to secure internship placements in Silicon Valley for 12 students from our fall cohort, two of whom are interning with his firm.

Their goals for our spring cohort of students is significantly higher, and what is most impressive is that they have already identified over 200 available opportunities with companies and organizations within the region. Among them are internships with:

  • Abbott;
  • Google;
  • Tesla;
  • Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and
  • Numerous startups, where our students will have much to contribute, and much to learn.

Please join me in congratulating the members of the Silicon Valley Executive Council for their tremendous efforts and impressive achievements!

For those of you who are not yet members of the Executive Council, I would encourage you to consider lending your talents and leadership to this worthy and rewarding effort.

If you are interested, please reach out to Joe Strodel, from Institute Advancement, who is here with us today.

I am looking forward to our tasting and lunch, to hearing about the bike tour through the vineyards this morning — I was with you in spirit — and to eliciting your thoughts and suggestions as to how best we can continue to engage and grow our community of active alumni, alumnae, parents, and friends of Rensselaer to support our capital campaign, and help to secure the future of Rensselaer in its imminently approaching third century.

Thank you again, and please raise your glasses for a toast.

To you!
To our students, and to the extraordinary legacy and bright future of Rensselaer!