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Shirley Ann Jackson to retire as RPI president

Jun 27, 2021 5:30 am

Rachel Silberstein is reporting for the Times Union Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson announced June 25, she will retire next year after more than 20 years at the Troy institution. Hired in 1999, Jackson is one of RPI's longest-serving leaders. Her retirement is effective July 1, 2022, she wrote in a memo to faculty and families. Jackson, 74, is a physicist; she formerly served as the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and she was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jackson was awarded a National Medal of Science for her work that eventually led to the invention of the portable fax machine, touch-tone phones, solar cells, fiber optic cables, and caller ID. During her tenure, RPI saw a record numbers of student applicants and added a Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, or EMPAC, the East Campus Athletic Village, and the Center for Computational Innovations. Jackson is one of the highest-paid university presidents in the country, earning a salary of $5.8 million in recent years. Her top-down management style has been a source of contention among students, as well as some dissident alumni and donors. For years, Jackson has been criticized by civil liberty groups who accuse her administration of aggressively working to quell dissent and free speech among students and faculty. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit group that promotes civil liberties on college campuses, has included RPI on its list of 10 worst campuses for freedom of expression. The school's succession plan was not immediately known. Read the full story in the Times Union.