Rensselaer recently marked a milestone, as we celebrated 20 years of transformative leadership, recognized distinguished honorees and student scholars and began a new partnership with singer, songwriter and actor, Josh Groban and the Find Your Light Foundation.
Thursday night kicked off the Anniversary Celebration Weekend with a Presidential Anniversary Tribute to President Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D. for 20 years of transformative leadership, and extraordinary advancements in research, pedagogy, and the student experience. Dr. John Bennett, President and CEO of Capital District Physicians Health Plan, Inc. (CDPHP), served as the master of ceremonies for the evening as strategic partners, community leaders, Institute leadership, recent graduates, and family members of Dr. Jackson spoke on her 20 years of success.
The Rensselaer Chamber Ensemble shared a “gift of music” with Dr. Jackson and all those in attendance with an exceptional performance of Piano Trio in G Major from the fourth movement of Appassionato and Primavera Porteña from The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.
Thomas Capek ’86, P’20, senior vice president and chief engineer at Corning Incorporated, presented Dr. Jackson with the “Beacon of Light” award made with Steuben glass. The Eric Hilton design “captures the powerful beam cast out into the storm by the lighthouse, which towers above frothing waves,” symbolizing Dr. Jackson’s unwavering 20 years of leadership.
One of the most moving moments of the night was hearing the stories and accolades from Dr. Jackson’s husband, Dr. Morris Washington and their son Alan Washington, as they reminisced on Dr. Jackson’s tenure at Rensselaer from the perspective of husband and son.
“Shirley, you have given me credit for providing the wind beneath your wings,” said Dr. Jackson’s husband, Dr. Washington. “I very much appreciate that thought. Now, all of us like to think very highly of our abilities, but I honestly do not believe that I can generate that much wind to allow you to soar to such great heights and achieve as much as you have.”
“You are living proof that you can be the best mother in the world while also being number one in your field,” Dr. Jackson’s son, Alan Washington stated. “So, thank you, Mom…thank you for always putting me and our family first and for being such an inspiration to all of us. You will always be my number one Mother.”
The Anniversary Celebration Weekend continued with the Coast to Coast East: Rensselaer Scholarship Dinner on Saturday night, where we recognized this year’s Presidential Lifetime Achievement and Rensselaer Global Game Changers honorees, and celebrated student scholarships. Guests enjoyed a reception and dinner while Dr. Jackson recognized Kathleen M. and Paul J. Severino ’69, Josh Groban and the Find Your Light Foundation, and Corning Incorporated on their remarkable commitment of philanthropy to Rensselaer. CDPHP was awarded the Global Game Changers award for their investments in enhancing Rensselaer’s efforts in providing students with a world-class education and student experience.
“Together with the members of our Campaign Leadership Committee, and with the ongoing and robust support of the entire Rensselaer community, I have every confidence that we will succeed in building the endowment we need to secure the future of Rensselaer in its third century,” Dr. Jackson stated at the Coast to Coast East: Scholarship Awards Dinner.
The evening concluded with an incredible signature performance by Josh Groban, accompanied by students in the Rensselaer Chorus and Rensselaer Orchestra. This performance highlighted the beginning of a newly developed partnership between Rensselaer and the Find Your Light Foundation in working together to provide opportunities for kids to earn an arts education.
Proceeds from the Anniversary Celebration Weekend benefited student scholarships at Rensselaer and the Find Your Light Foundation.
Presidential Anniversary Tribute
Scholarship Dinner and Signature Performance by Josh Groban
Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award
The Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes leading philanthropic partnerships propelling Rensselaer to a transformative third century as a state-of-the-art, innovative research and technology Institute.
Kathleen M. and Paul J. Severino ’69
Josh Groban and the Find Your Light Foundation
Rensselaer Global Game Changers Award
The Rensselaer Global Game Changers Award recognizes those whose transformative investments have significantly enhanced our efforts in making a world-class education available to deserving students, regardless of socio-economic background.
Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan
John D. Bennett ’74, MD, FACC, FACP
President and Chief Executive Officer of Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, Inc.
Executive Leadership Team
Vikram Agrawal ’02 – President/ CEO, Levrx
Vikash Agrawal ’98 – Chairman, Levrx
James J. Barba – President and CEO, Albany Med
Steve B. Bouchey, CFP, President & CEO, Bouchey Financial Group, Ltd.
Joseph R. Nicolla ’79 – Founder and President- Columbia Development Companies, LLC
John J. Nigro, D.H.L. – President, Nigro Companies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Honorary Trustee
Daniel T. Pickett III ’90 – President, Hudson River Capital, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Trustee
Cindi and Curtis R. Priem ’82, P’22
Bridging the Gap Sponsors
Ron and Wanda Denson-Low ’78
Elisabeth and Arthur F. Golden ’66