Friday, February 10, 2012

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Shirley Ann Jackson, College President

Shirley Ann Jackson is the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. from MIT
Today's Celebrity Friday is Dr. Shirley Jackson, the President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, my alma mater, the nation's oldest technological university.

This is from her official bio:
Described by Time Magazine (2005) as “perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science,” President Jackson has held senior leadership positions in government, industry, research, and academe.

Since 1999, Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson has led an extraordinary transformation of the Institute with an ambitious strategic effort known as The Rensselaer Plan. Guided by her vision, Rensselaer is now home to 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. Under her leadership, more than 230 new faculty members have been hired, research awards have doubled, and scholarships have increased. Her tenure also has been marked by innovations in curriculum, expansion of undergraduate research, and new award-winning student life initiatives.

Nearly $1 billion has been invested in The Rensselaer Plan, including more than $700 million in new construction, renovations, new equipment, technology and infrastructure. In 2001, President Jackson secured a $360 million unrestricted gift to the Institute. In 2004, she launched a $1 billion Renaissance at Rensselaer capital campaign. In 2006, the goal was expanded to $1.4 billion. The campaign closed in 2009, having surpassed the ambitious goal of $1.4 billion in gifts and gift commitments, nine months ahead of schedule, exceeding all previous fund-raising at Rensselaer.
Curiously, her Wikipedia page is clearly a site of contestation for her supporters and detractors. Regardless, she is still a Black woman who has been the head of a federal agency (Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 1995-1999), a college president (1999-??) and a trailblazer as a physics professor (Rutgers).

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