© 2022
1078x200-header-mic.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

First new RPI president in more than 20 years is installed during campus ceremony

Troy Mayor Patrick Madden speaks at the Investiture Ceremony for Martin Schmidt, the 19th President of RPI.
Dave Lucas
/
WAMC
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden speaks at the Investiture Ceremony for Martin Schmidt, the 19th President of RPI.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute inaugurated Martin Schmidt as its 19th president today.

The investiture ceremony included an academic processional, entry of colors and remarks by representatives of government, industry, and academia. Mayor Patrick Madden welcomed Schmidt to the Troy community.

“And so it is with great excitement that my early conversations with President Schmidt reveal that our views are aligned," said Madden. "We are both of the mind that strong town-gown relationships create strength for both partners. A productive town-gown relationship should be highly prized for the contribution it makes to the academic enterprise and learning experiences that benefit the students, and for the prosperity and quality of life it creates for the community.”

Schmidt, who took over for Shirley Jackson in July, had served as provost of MIT since 2014. The '81 RPI graduate says he will support and elevate students and faculty to address the world’s biggest challenges, ensure the proper resources are available to help great ideas become reality, and engage the broader community.

“We have a great foundation here," Schmidt said. "You know, I spent 41 years at MIT as a student, as a graduate student, faculty member and Provost. And coming back to my undergraduate alma mater, is a real special thing. But part of what made me excited about this opportunity is I see RPI as a very solid foundation in which we could build some really exciting things. And I also see in the region, particularly in downtown Troy, an area that I see going through a renaissance that reminds me very much of what I saw evolve in Cambridge, Massachusetts when I started as a student there , so I just see tremendous opportunities for us.”

Troy native Alexander Patterson is Vice Grand Marshall for students at the private college.

"He came in, and he already started communicating with student government a lot more than the former president," Patterson said. "He offered a olive branch, where he wanted to learn from the students on campus. And that's, that's a pretty big change. We've had a long tenure with Dr. Jackson and she received a lot of criticism over her time here. So seeing someone new come in and seeing him being so open to working with new people is a really important first step towards getting a lot of the bigger changes we need on campus done.”

Jackson, now President-Emerita, became the first African-American woman to lead a top-ranked research university in 1999, according to the college. She is credited with fostering groundbreaking research at RPI and upgrading campus infrastructure. But she was also criticized for restricting free speech on campus and for earning one of the biggest salaries of any college president.

RPI has roughly 7,000 students.

RPI President Martin Schmidt
Dave Lucas
/
WAMC
RPI President Martin Schmidt

Tags
Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.