Anonymous donor pledges $130 million to Rensselaer

December 12, 2000

Gift will support construction of two major facilities

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson announced today that the Institute has obtained a gift of $130 million from an anonymous donor to construct two major new facilities: a biotechnology research building and an electronic media and performing arts center. According to figures kept by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the gift is the 10th largest ever to a university, and the third largest to a university in New York State.

"This extraordinary expression of support will enable Rensselaer to move boldly on two areas of critical importance for the Institute and for society," President Jackson said. "We will create a center for biotechnology that will rank among the world's most advanced research facilities, and we will construct a world-class performing arts center to showcase our signature offerings in the electronic arts. Together, these two facilities will be transformational for Rensselaer: they provide us with tremendous impetus to achieve an exponential increase in our research activity and to create a lively, intellectually stimulating campus environment."

Dr. Jackson said, "Rensselaer is extremely grateful to this donor, whose generous heart is committed to supporting broad areas in education, research, sciences, nature, and the arts."

Both projects were defined as major priorities by The Rensselaer Plan, the strategic plan for the Institute launched by President Jackson shortly after her inauguration in the fall of 1999, and approved by the trustees last May.

The center for biotechnology and interdisciplinary studies will be an advanced, high-tech facility housing research and education focused on the application of engineering and the physical and information sciences to the life sciences. The 200,000- to 250,000-square-foot facility will be constructed on 15th Street, adjacent to the George M. Low Center for Industrial Innovation and north of Academy Hall, the former School 14.

The electronic media and performing arts center will be a state of the art performance, presentation, and media research and production facility. This 130,000- to 200,000-square-foot facility will be located on the hill in the vicinity of the Richard G. Folsom Library and the Materials Research Center.

In the next five years, The Rensselaer Plan calls for more than doubling Rensselaer's research activity, from $40 million to $100 million, by developing focal areas of expertise within the biotechnology and information technology arenas.

The biotechnology center will provide state-of-the-art facilities to house "constellations," of faculty, graduate students, and others who will constitute a locus of expertise within specific focal areas. In biotechnology, the focal areas have been identified as functional tissue engineering, integrative systems biology, biocomputation and bioinformatics, and biocatalysis and metabolic engineering.

An advisory committee to plan the biotechnology facility has been formed to define program and facility needs. Groundbreaking is slated for early 2002.

The Rensselaer Plan also identified the construction of an electronic media and performing arts center as a key priority because of its potential to enrich the campus environment, broaden campus discourse, and provide an outstanding venue where students, faculty, and staff will have opportunities to express their creative interests.

The facility, which will be constructed at one of the campus gateways, will serve to engage both the campus and the community with Rensselaer's signature offerings in the electronic and performing arts. A planning committee has presented its report about the size and nature of the facility, a design competition will be held next spring, and groundbreaking is planned for early 2002.

"We defined biotechnology research and the creation of an electronic media and performing arts center as among the highest priorities of The Rensselaer Plan," Dr. Jackson said. "We are extremely gratified by this gift and grateful to the donor who has put us on the path to achieving our vision."

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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