April, 2022


Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Good morning. I am delighted to share remarks with you, our tremendous senior student-athletes, during such a wonderful occasion, and a truly special time in your lives. I always enjoy this event, and wish that I could be there in person.

While your time as members of the Rensselaer community has not been quite as long as mine, you have spent formidable years of your lives with us, and it has been a pleasure watching grow, as you have devotedly represented Rensselaer. I encourage you to take time to reflect on your experiences, and what has made your college experience meaningful and enjoyable. Give some thought to all you have learned, managed, and been through, since those Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond opportunities that introduced you to Rensselaer and the Capital Region.  

Obviously, we all have been through some things since then—nationally and globally – that we cannot ignore or soon forget. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the war in Ukraine, and everything else, we are living in extraordinary times, and we should continue to take every opportunity to exercise compassion, understanding, and empathy.

Your Rensselaer education, and the experience you have gained while with us, whether in class, in labs, at co-ops, internships or in employment, have put you in positions to thrive, just as you have done as student-athletes who proudly donned the cherry and white. 

Let me remind you of a few things. Over the past seven semesters:  

  • Every team we have has competed in post-season competition at least once – and that is despite having to endure truncated schedules;
  • Our teams have not only captured Liberty League championships, but soared to heights not previously experienced on the national stage, such as: 
  • Both women and men’s cross country teams setting school records with their best finishes at their respective NCAA Championship meets;
  • Men’s soccer playing in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament;
  • Football advancing to the NCAA Quarterfinals twice; 
  • Men’s basketball making a Sweet 16 appearance; and
  • The golf team making the cut, and finishing in the top 20 in its national tournament debut.


And we still have the spring championship season to go through.

Before concluding, I want to show my appreciation to your coaches, the athletic administrators, and department staff members, as well as your families for all they have done to help each of you to persevere and excel, not only in your sport, but academically and socially. I implore you to thank them as well. 

Finally, I thank you for the hours and hours of time, energy, and commitment you have dedicated to our community – on and off the field. You have shown a bright, positive light not only upon yourselves, but the athletics department and the Institute. For this, we are grateful.

I look forward to seeing each of you throughout the celebrations that lead up to Commencement, and then, on May 21 at the East Campus Stadium. 

Thank you and enjoy the remainder of the program.