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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.


a photo of Dr. Jackson with students.
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson with Rensselaer student ambassadors and scholarship students.

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.

Thomas Capek ’86, P’20 and Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson
Thomas Capek ’86, P’20, senior vice president and chief engineer at Corning Incorporated, presented Dr. Jackson with the “Beacon of Light” award.

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.”


Josh Groban Performs at EMPAC.
Josh Groban performs with students from the Rensselaer Chorus and Rensselaer Orchestra.

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.

If you would like to support student scholarship at Rensselaer,
please consider making a gift to the
Rensselaer Annual Fund Scholars Program.


Presidential Anniversary Tribute

Scholarship Dinner and Signature Performance by Josh Groban

Step and Repeat Photos


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

Corning Incorporated

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.

View Biography

John D. Bennett ’74, MD, FACC, FACP was named president and CEO of CDPHP in July of 2008 after serving more than 10 years as chair, vice chair, and board member of the Capital Region’s leading not-for-profit health plan. During this time, CDPHP has been recognized as one of the top-rated plans in the nation, has been named one of the Best Companies to Work for in New York for 11 consecutive years, and has ranked “Highest in Member Satisfaction among Commercial Health Plans in New York” in the J.D. Power Member Health Plan Study for the second consecutive year.


Prior to joining CDPHP, Bennett served as founding member and CEO of Prime Care Physicians, PLLC. During his tenure, he co-led a team of 25 cardiologists and helped grow the practice from three employees to a 100-physician multi-specialty group.


Bennett is board certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Internal Medicine, with subspecialties in internal medicine and cardiology. He earned his medical degree at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, and a Bachelor of Science degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Bennett completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiovascular disease at Albany Medical Center. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Physicians.

Bennett serves on the boards of the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), Center for Economic Growth, New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC), Palace Theatre, and The Sage Colleges. In 2015, Bennett was appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to serve as a member of the New York Public Health and Health Planning Council.


An outspoken critic of the rising cost of health care, Bennett was awarded the 2016 Marketer/Communicator of the Year award by the Capital Region chapters of the American Marketing Association and Public Relations Society of America. That same year, Bennett was also awarded the 2016 Promoting the Advancement of Technology in Healthcare (PATH) Award from the New York e-Health Collaborative (NYeC).

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


Event Underwriter

Dinner Sponsors

Cindi and Curtis R. Priem ’82, P’22

Bridging the Gap Sponsors


Corporate Underwriters

CDC Logo Green

Ron and Wanda Denson-Low ’78
Elisabeth and Arthur F. Golden ’66

Corporate Benefactors


Corporate Sponsors

RK VECTOR LOGO with type
VMJR Portrait_hi-res
Nigro logo color

Friends of Rensselaer

St. Peter’s Health Partners
Healthcare Trust of America, Inc.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Pleasant China
KeyBanc Capital Markets
Bouchey Financial Group, Ltd.

Individual Sponsors

George Campbell Jr., Ph.D. and Mary Campbell, Ph.D.
Tenee and James Casaccio
Louise and Roy Davis ’78G
Susan and Gary DiCamillo ’73
Jeanne and Frank Fischer ’64, ’65G
Hope and David M. Hirsch ’65
Liann and David Ho ’86
Linda Pitzi Jojo ’87, ’92G and Robert R. Jojo ’87G
Gail and Jeffrey L. Kodosky ’70
Teresa and Mark Little ’82 Ph.D.
Nancy S. Mueller
Kathryn Murtagh ’87
Jennifer and Daniel T. Pickett III ’90
Janet C. Rutledge ’83 and Norman Fortenberry
Paula L. Simon ’68
Kay and Jackson Tai ’72
Susan O. and Theodore J. Wojnar Jr. ’80
Mona L. and Edward J. Zander ’68

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