RPI building a new president's residence

Shirley Jackson at EMPAC openingWhat do you get the college president who's already the highest-paid in the nation and just had a weekend-long celebration (including a performance by Aretha Franklin) of her tenure?

How about a new house.

In an email sent out to the RPI community yesterday afternoon, VP William Walker announced that the school's board of trustees is building president Shirley Ann Jackson a new residence. From the email:

The members of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees have made a commitment of their personal resources to construct a new building that will serve as a space for entertaining visitors to the university, and as a residence for the president.
"The Trustees have decided to make a unanimous collective gift to Rensselaer in anticipation of our future fund-raising efforts," said Samuel F. Heffner '56, chairman of the Board of Trustees. "The new facility will be an important tool for use in our ongoing advancement programs."
The building will be located on the same Tibbits Avenue parcel of land as the current president's house, which was constructed in the early 20th century. The existing building has only limited space for university events, and is no longer suitable for the types of uses demanded by the burgeoning programs of the Institute, Heffner said.

The full email is after the jump. (Thanks, P)

Here's a bit about the history of the president's residence at RPI, including a few photos. The TU's Chris Churchill reports that the new residence will be built next the current residence, which will become a guest house.

Earlier on AOA: Skidmore, Union, RPI among nation's most expensive

____________

To: The Rensselaer Community
From: William N. Walker, Vice President
Strategic Communications and External Relations
Date: December 7, 2009
Re: Gift from the Board of Trustees

The following article, describing a commitment made by the Board of
Trustees at its meeting in Troy December 4, has been prepared for the
December 11 issue of Inside Rensselaer. I am sharing it in advance with
the Rensselaer community at the request of Samuel Heffner, Chairman of
the Board of Trustees.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

The members of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees have made a commitment
of their personal resources to construct a new building that will serve
as a space for entertaining visitors to the university, and as a
residence for the president.

"The Trustees have decided to make a unanimous collective gift to
Rensselaer in anticipation of our future fund-raising efforts," said
Samuel F. Heffner '56, chairman of the Board of Trustees. "The new
facility will be an important tool for use in our ongoing advancement
programs."

The building will be located on the same Tibbits Avenue parcel of land
as the current president's house, which was constructed in the early
20th century. The existing building has only limited space for
university events, and is no longer suitable for the types of uses
demanded by the burgeoning programs of the Institute, Heffner said.

Rensselaer recently completed the Renaissance at Rensselaer: The
Campaign for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a $1.4 billion capital
campaign that funded many of the priorities of The Rensselaer Plan. The
plan included the construction of four major academic and student life
platforms that have contributed to the transformation of Rensselaer as a
fully realized technological research university. The Trustee gift of
the new building lays the groundwork for an even more ambitious
fund-raising effort that is in the early planning stages.

"The success of The Rensselaer Plan under President Jackson's leadership
has positioned the Institute for future advancement efforts to realize
the next phases of the plan," Heffner said. "The Trustees see the
commitment to this new facility as a long-term investment in those
efforts."

The addition of the building will augment other programs, adding to the
suite of facilities created in the Center for Biotechnology and
Interdisciplinary Studies, the Computational Center for Nanotechnology
Innovations, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts
Center, and the East Campus Athletic Village.

"Those facilities gave us spaces we needed for the enhancement of
academic, research, and student life programs," Heffner said. "A new
building, that enables the president to receive and entertain,
appropriately, Rensselaer constituents, donors, and other high-level
visitors, will enhance our ability to raise funds to support those
programs and anticipated new ones."

"The transformation of Rensselaer has brought the university onto the
world stage," Heffner said. "Every major university must have physical
facilities appropriate to its goals. This gift will provide a place that
enables President Jackson and her successors to greet high-level
constituents in a manner that demonstrates the status of Rensselaer as a
major research university."

A previous private funding effort, with contributions by Rensselaer
alumni and alumnae, supported the construction of the Heffner Alumni
House, which opened in 1989. Since then, the house has become the center
of alumni activity on campus, and has played a role in hosting events
under the capital campaign.

The funds for this new project would not have been available for any
other purpose, Heffner said. "The Trustees have been very generous in
their philanthropic support of the Rensselaer students and faculty. The
gifts the Trustees are making for this new facility are over and above
their other commitments, and represent a unanimous personal investment
by them in the long-term future of Rensselaer," he said.

____________

Comments

As an RPI student, at this point, I can't say this sort of spending surprises me anymore. Layoffs, budget cuts across virtually every department, slashing language programs, yeah, but the Trustees are able to band together in a great display of unity and donate generously to build our highest-compensated President a new house.

I really hope they're not expecting me to give the school anything after I graduate if they keep this up.

funny, the alumni association called me four or five times last week looking for donations... not that i answered.

seeing as she is building a MacMansion up on Lake George, this seems like uber conspicuous consumption. Maybe she can name each new room after one of her employees that she axed.

Merry Christmas indeed. I guess this is the only way to top last year's gift of layoffs by slapping everyone in the face.

This is absolutely unacceptable. While I am not one for cutting a President's salary in times of economic turmoil, I find that such individuals should not spit in the faces of their cash strapped employees or the families of students. Jackson needs to go.

Outrageous and shameless.

doesn't this remind you of "let them eat cake"?

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