Jul 14, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2022-2023 
Rensselaer Catalog 2022-2023 [Archived Catalog]

Student Life

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Rensselaer helps educate “leaders of tomorrow” by providing a robust set of student life programs and services designed to:

  • facilitate academic success
  • offer education and practice in leadership and fellowship
  • encourage fitness for a lifetime of growth
  • connect students to careers and the world of work
  • build maturity, an appreciation of cultural diversity and expression, and a set of personal and professional goals and values.


Dean of Students


Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students: Travis Apgar

The Dean of Students Office supports and assists students in the achievement of personal and academic success with an emphasis on student development, advocacy, rights and responsibilities, safety, and liability. The services and initiatives of this office include counseling, advising, and referral information; policy development and implementation.

Judicial Affairs Regulations governing undergraduate and graduate student conduct and a statement of student rights and responsibilities are contained in The Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities and in the Rensselaer Graduate Student Supplement. These policies are intended to help maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning and personal growth and to make the process of education positive and successful for all members of the community. Each student is expected to obtain a copy of the current handbook and supplement and to know their contents. For more information click here.


Office for Student Success


Assistant Vice President: Lisa Trahan

The Student Success portfolio, within the Division of Student Life, provides students with resources and programming designed to assist them during their college years and includes the First-Year Experience, the undergraduate class deans, the dean of the graduate experience, parent and family programs, success programs and processes, and the Archer Center for Student Leadership Development. Focus areas include leadership, academic and personal success, time-based developmental programming and support, orientation and transition activities, and experiential opportunities. Additionally, the Office for Student Success manages the administrative operations of excused absences, leaves of absence, withdrawals, and re-admissions, as well as underrepresented student support services, case management, and success programs geared towards students on probation.

The Archer Center for Student Leadership Development provides leadership education for the Rensselaer students and community both in and outside of the classroom. The Center enhances students’ leadership skills through a variety of cutting-edge, interactive learning experiences that include adventure-based initiatives, corporate training techniques, and other methods. Archer Center programs provide every student with the opportunity to gain essential leadership skills in areas such as team development, visioning, effective communication, ethical decision making, and multiculturalism.

The Archer Center offers custom-designed workshops for student organizations, manages the Professional Leadership Program for juniors, the Professional Leadership Series for graduate students, and facilitates other co-curricular programs. It also works with faculty across campus to develop interactive formats for classes and laboratories, and coordinates many other special events. Additionally, the Archer Center teaches a required course sequence in the Lally School of Management and a required Professional Development course sequence in the School of Engineering. Student groups, faculty, staff, administrators, and local communities benefit from Archer Center programs. Corporate representatives work with the Archer Center by funding some of its programs and/or speaking in leadership classes, at workshops, conferences, and at the recognition banquet.

The Archer Center for Student Leadership Development, with help from its colleagues and corporate partners, is dedicated to promoting practices that foster teamwork and integrity in the professional and personal lives of tomorrow’s leaders.

Undergraduate Class Deans are associated with each cohort of Rensselaer students and follow them from their sophomore year to graduation. The Dean of the First-Year Experience maintains oversight of all first-year students. As part of Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students (CLASS), the Undergraduate Class Deans mentor each cohort by providing information and assistance specific to students’ needs at that particular time during their Rensselaer journey. Specific roles of the Deans include academic and personal mentoring and support; class-specific programming through the Cohort Committees; collaborations with departments and offices across campus; administrative functions for their cohort including excused absences, no examination grades, withdrawals, leave of absences, and readmission.

The Class Deans assist students in crafting a holistic, personal experience spanning their tenure at Rensselaer. By creating connections between student aspirations and the wealth of available opportunities and services, the Class Deans foster full engagement with Rensselaer and beyond. They intervene with students experiencing personal or academic difficulty through the Electronic Warning System (EWS) and provide intrusive academic and social intervention and support.

All students begin with the Dean of the First-Year Experience. During their Sophomore year, their Undergraduate Class Dean is introduced and follows them through to graduation. Students are assigned based on the year they began at Rensselaer, not by the number of credits attained. However, transfer students are assigned a Class Dean based on the number of credits they have on arrival.

Office of the First-Year Experience hosts a comprehensive First-Year Experience program including Student Orientation (SO) and Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond (NRB). Both programs are designed to facilitate a smooth transition to life at Rensselaer while building relationships between new and upper-class students, faculty and staff, and the surrounding community. Programs continue throughout the first year to address academic and transitional needs. FYE’s in-depth communication tools provide students with important dates to remember and information about upcoming programs of interest, student leadership opportunities, and important academic deadlines. FYE also provides support to students and their families on a walk-in, email, and phone basis. 

All entering first-year and transfer students will be charged and Orientation Fee for the opportunity to attend programs held during the summer and/or before fall or spring semester for overall orientation, academic advisement, and course registration. Fees are $175 for first-year, fall-admitted students, and $100 for spring-admitted first-year students, and all transfer students. This fee is non-refundable except where withdrawal is made prior to the fall final registration date for fall-admitted students, or prior to spring final registration for spring-admitted students.

Parent and Family Programs coordinates parents and family programming, including the Parents of Rensselaer Association, the Parents Council, and a rich Rensselaer tradition: Family Weekend. Parents and families of all Rensselaer students are encouraged to take part in the programs and services offered. In addition, parents and family members are invited to register for email newsletters, participate in our discount program, and contact staff at any time if a question or concern arises.

The Graduate Student Experience promotes academic, professional, and personal development of graduate students. In support of successful degree completion, the dean of the graduate experience provides leadership and oversight of graduate student life and activities in collaboration with the Office of Graduate Education, graduate program directors and administrators, the Graduate Student Council, the Division of Student Life, and other campus departments. In partnership with these areas, the graduate student experience supports programs and initiatives that create opportunities for graduate students to connect with a network of faculty, staff, students, and alumni to enhance their overall involvement and engagement, affinity group development, and social integration across disciplines.

Underrepresented Student Services provides leadership and direction through Rensselaer’s signature approach to the student experience, Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students (CLASS). Student Success collaborates with other areas throughout Student Life and across the Institute to advance efforts to foster the academic success for underrepresented students. In addition to providing one-on-on support, signature programs include the Bridge Scholars Program, The Garnet Baltimore Research and Entrepreneurial Scholars, and mentor opportunities.


Student Transitions

Assistant Vice President: (vacant)

The Division of Student Transitions collaborates with community partners to ensure high quality programs and services that will contribute to the successful transition of all students from pre-college through graduation which includes transfer and co-terminal students.  The AVP oversees The Arch and Student Transitions, the Center for Career and Professional Development, Registrar and International Services for Students and Scholars.

The Arch and Student Transitions The ARCH is a unique approach to education that provides flexibility in the semester schedule allowing students to pursue professional and personal development opportunities that prepare students to meet the multifaceted challenges of the 21st century.  Students will take classes during the summer between their sophomore and junior year and then spend a semester away during their junior year.  The Arch away semester is an opportunity for students to pursue their passion through an internship, co-op, research, self-guided study, or international experience.

Student Transitions  The Student Transitions Office provides transitional programming and services specific to the transfer, sophomore, junior, senior, and co-term student populations. The transitions office seeks to highlight transitional, developmental, and professional milestones during college matriculation. Transfer students are connected with the office upon enrollment and receive support through graduation. Co-Terminal students are connected during the time of inquiry to graduation. Any student interested in the Co-Terminal program should connect with the Transitions Office for materials, support, and overall facilitation of transition to the Office of Graduate Education. The Student Transitions Office will work closely with the all portfolios in the Division of Student Life to support transitions while celebrating Rensselaer’s Traditions.

Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) CCPD guides students in the development of key professional development competencies throughout their undergraduate and graduate experience at Rensselaer. The CCPD offers comprehensive career services, including on-campus recruiting and job postings via JobLink for current students and alumni for full-time, co-op, and summer internship opportunities.  The CCPD organizes the Spring Career Fair, career days and employer information sessions.  The office also provides personalized career counseling and assessments by appointment along with career and professional development workshops.  Students interested in advanced education can receive assistance with applying to graduate or professional school.  Following the developmental model, the CCPD offers targeted freshman programming through the Freshman Career Compass series, and a nationally award-winning Sophomore Career Experience. The CCPD hosts daily walk-in hours.  In 2020-2021, approximately 5,000 students utilized the CCPD for various career and professional development services.

Within six months of graduation, approximately 84 percent of those responding to the CCPD student survey reported future plans for full-time employment, graduate/professional school, military service, and “other” (includes travel, delaying job search, startup, etc.).

Cooperative Education Program -Rensselaer’s optional co-op program, which is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.  The co-op program provides an excellent vehicle for students to gain critically needed work experience while still in college. More than 300 students actively participated in the co-op program for 2016-2017, working for leading employers in the U.S. and abroad. Top co-op employers include: Hasbro, Edgewell, American Airlines, United Technologies, IBM, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, General Dynamics, CMA Consulting, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Amazon, Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, and Honda.  The vast majority of students find their co-op positions through the Center for Career and Professional Development. Undergraduate students are required to work a summer and a semester, and usually work January through August or June through December. Graduate students may work during one of the same time periods or during summer only.

Office of the Registrar The office provides a wide range of services to faculty, students, alumni, and staff. In addition to maintaining the official academic record for all current and former students, the office coordinates registration, schedules classrooms and final exams.  The office provides transcripts and verifies enrollment and degrees and certifies Veteran’s benefits.  In preparation for graduation the office oversees the degree clearance process and issues diplomas and compiles and distributes the official enrollment and degree statistics. The office is committed to providing quality service, maintaining the integrity of academic records, and protecting students’ right to privacy.

International Services for Students and Scholars  International Services for Students and Scholars (ISSS) provides thoughtful and timely immigration counseling for F-1 and J-1 international students and scholars.   The ISSS serves as liaison to US Government agencies and sponsors in an effort to ensure immigration compliance for the Institute and our students.  Additionally, the office offers orientation programs, counseling and advising, and outreach for Rensselaer’s international community. All Rensselaer students and scholars who are not United States citizens or permanent residents must check-in with ISSS.





Director: Lee McElroy Jr.

Rensselaer Department of Athletics Mission Statement:

The Rensselaer Athletics Department provides broad-based opportunities to enhance the overall student-athlete experience through high-level intercollegiate and recreational competition that emphasizes superior sportsmanship and the pursuit of excellence while winning championships. Creating an atmosphere that encourages personal growth while balancing academic and athletic excellence is of highest importance. Essential to the team is the development of core values in a diverse and equitable environment while promoting positive, life-long contributions to the Rensselaer community and beyond. 

Intercollegiate Sports Rensselaer fields intercollegiate teams in 23 sports. 

The men’s and women’s hockey teams compete at the Division I level and in ECAC Hockey. The remaining teams play in Division III. Rensselaer is a member of the NCAA, the ECAC, and the Liberty League.

The department trains and employs student trainers, lifeguards, and equipment room attendants. Several varsity teams sponsor student managers that assist in all matters of team operations.

Facilities The East Campus Athletic Village opened on October 3, 2009. One of the most extensive athletic construction projects in the Institute’s history, the complex features a multipurpose lighted stadium with field turf and seating for 5,200 along with a 1,200-seat basketball arena. The facility features a 5,000-square-foot strength and conditioning center connecting to a professional-caliber sports medicine suite, and within the arena are offices for athletics administrators and coaches, numerous meeting spaces, a new Athletics Hall of Fame, and a cafe.

The Houston Field House is the current home of Rensselaer’s Division I Men’s and Women’s hockey teams. Seating more than 4,800 fans, the Field House features six locker rooms, numerous offices, and several meeting spaces. Since opening in 1949, the building has undergone a number of renovations. A recent update took place during the 2008-2009 season when new locker rooms with spacious lounges and study areas were constructed. Additionally, a new equipment room, athletic training suite, and video room were also completed. The second phase of that project featured a new look to the front facade of the arena and coaches’ offices and was completed during the 2010-2011 season.

The Alumni Sports & Recreation Center (AS&RC) houses the Robison Gymnasium, which has an indoor track. Also included are basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts on a resilient surface as well as locker facilities. Home to the Rensselaer men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, the Robison Pool features eight lanes for competitive swimming. Additionally, the complex has multiple three-meter and one-meter diving boards. The Mueller Center, which adjoins the AS&RC, opened in 2000 and features cardiovascular and weight lifting equipment as well as space for aerobic fitness activities.

The ‘87 Gymnasium contains two general purpose gymnasiums, an indoor track, and seven four-wall combination handball and squash courts.

The home field for the Rensselaer softball team, Doris Robison Field, features team dugouts, a press box, and multiple areas for fan seating.

Previously known as the 17th Street Field, Robison Field is home to the Rensselaer baseball team. Located on the corner of 17th Street and Eagle Street, off main campus and just north of Samaritan Hospital, it is one of the top fields in the state of New York.

The Ned Harkness Field and Track is a synthetic turf field and track which opened in 1994. Dedicated to the memory of former RPI men’s hockey and lacrosse coach Ned Harkness, the complex is home to the Rensselaer field hockey and men’s and women’s track and field teams.

Renwyck Field is home to the Rensselaer men’s and women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse programs. The field was redone and laid with a new synthetic surface in the spring of 2009 as part of the first phase of the East Campus Athletic Village.

Home to the men’s and women’s tennis programs, Sharp Courts features six courts for varsity, club, and recreational use.


The Rensselaer Union


Director: Charlie Potts

Established in 1890, the Rensselaer Union is a 127-year-old student organization with a proud history and traditions. Every enrolled activity-fee-paying RPI student is a member of the Rensselaer Union, a self­-supporting and a self-governing student organization that oversees student organizations, facilities, finances, and student activities on campus.

The Rensselaer Union recognizes over 200 service, media, recreation, club sports, performing and visual arts, multicultural, and special interest student organizations. The Rensselaer Union runs the intramural program on campus.  

Athletic Clubs Among the more than 160 clubs sponsored by the Rensselaer Union are Abada Capoeira, Aikido Karate, Archery, Badminton, Ballroom Dance, Cheerleading, Chung Do Kwan, Crew, Cricket, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Isshrinyu Karate, Judo, Juggling and Unicycling, Kendo Outing, Racquetball, Rifle Marksmanship, Rugby, Sailing, Scuba, Ski Club and Team, Squash, Table Tennis, Tae Kwon Do, Tennis, Ultimate Frisbee, Volleyball, Water Polo, and Wrestling.

Intramural and Recreational Program An extensive intramural athletic program offers competition in 24 sports, including baseball, basketball, billiards, golf, gym hockey, ice hockey, indoor soccer, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, flag football, track, badminton, aerobics, wallyball, wiffleball, dodge ball, and volleyball. Two intramural leagues are subdivided into as many divisions as necessary to accommodate all who are interested and to provide a level of competition commensurate with abilities. Recreational opportunities of all descriptions, either planned or unstructured, are available to all students.

In addition, the Rensselaer Union manages and develops programs for the Mueller Center, which serves as the hub of recreation and wellness for the Rensselaer community. The Rensselaer Union, which founded the Archer Center for Student Leadership Development, continues to fund leadership programs that support club and student development outside the classroom.

The Rensselaer Student Union, the building on the corner of 15th Street and Sage Avenue, is the home of many activities and business operations including the Rensselaer Collegiate Store, a convenience food store, a full-service credit union, campus hair salon, and Ben & Jerry’s, as well as retail food operations open for lunch and late-night dining.

Student leaders at Rensselaer are elected each spring during a traditional event, known as GM WEEK, which is the all-campus student election and celebration. The offices of Grand Marshal (G.M.), established in 1866, and President of the Union (P.U.), established in 1891, are the two highest-ranking student positions. An Executive Board of students overseen by the P.U. makes major budget and policy decisions for the Rensselaer Union and the entities within the Rensselaer Union. The Student Senate is the chief legislative body for student government overseen by the G.M. and draws representation from the entire student body and represents the voice of the student body to the greater RPI community.


Religious Affairs


Coordinator: vacant

Rensselaer has a combination of resident and part-time chaplains who represent major faiths and work with the appropriate student organizations: the Rensselaer Christian Association, B.A.S.I.C., the Rensselaer Newman Student Fellowship, Hillel, and the Islamic Student Organization. All chaplains are available for personal counseling regardless of the beliefs of the individual.

The Rensselaer Newman Foundation and the Catholic Chaplaincy offer all the services of the usual parish and operate the Chapel and Cultural Center (C+CC). The Protestant Chaplain (who works with the Troy Area United Ministries), the local rabbis, and an imam on campus seek to involve students in the life of the local churches, synagogues, and mosques.

The Catholic Chaplains conduct mass daily and four times on weekends when classes are in session, and the Protestant Chaplain holds services on nights chosen by the students. The Rensselaer Christian Association gathers each Friday for song, prayer, and sharing, and in small groups daily. The Rensselaer Newman Student Fellowship organizes varied activities and speakers. Hillel is a focal point for the Jewish student community, gathering for their activities throughout the year. The Islamic students meet throughout the day for prayer as well as on each Friday for Sabbath. A number of churches, synagogues, and mosques in the area welcome students to their communities.


Student Living and Learning


Dean: John A. Lawler

The Living and Learning Community includes the Residential Commons, the Greek Commons, and the Off-Campus Commons. Students in the first and sophomore year are required to live on campus in the Residential Commons with their class cluster. Sophomore students may elect to live in their affiliated Greek Chapter house if they are an active member and fulfill all other obligations as part of the good standing and by-laws of each Greek chapter house.

The Residential Commons is an essential part of the Rensselaer experience. Learning and living in the residential community is not without difficult dialogues, personal challenges, and the need for support, reflection, and guidance and we are committed to student development and personal growth. The Residential Commons fosters the CLASS (clustered learning, advocacy, and support for students) initiative and provides tailored community and leadership development, health and safety information, academic support, and skill-based opportunities. Students have opportunities to serve on their hall council as a voice in the living learning community. As juniors and seniors, students can apply to serve in positions as resident assistants, learning assistants, and resident directors serving as mentors and peer educators for the commons. The Resident Student Association is the student programming organization that is charged with social programming for the entire residential community. Getting involved in intramurals, interacting with a diverse group of students, investing as a member of their community, and further engagement as a student staff member helps students learn more about themselves and others.

The Greek Life Commons is comprised of 34 national and local Greek fraternities and sororities that are strong in history and tradition. The office of Greek Life Commons provides counseling, advising, and program development for individual social fraternities and sororities, as well as advising and supporting the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils, the Alumni Inter-Greek Council, Order of Omega national honorary for Greek members, and Green Greeks which is an organization for the community focused on sustainability and improving the environment. In addition, the office of Greek Life Commons coordinates educational programming, reviews applications for recognition, is involved in policy development and implementation, promotes risk reduction through event registration and education on best practices for social event management, and is committed to positive alumni and community relations.

The Off-Campus Commons provides support for students living in accommodations off campus. Currently the services offered address the unique needs of these students. Off-campus students play a vital role as both students and ambassadors to the greater Troy community. The Off-Campus office assists students with resources regarding the many aspects of renting an apartment, being a good tenant, citizen, and neighbor, and being an engaged and active member of the Rensselaer community.

The Living and Learning Department, including our student staff - Resident Directors, Community Managers, Resident Assistants, and Learning Assistants - strives to build a community that values the potential of each individual and encourages students to broaden their perspectives, enhance personal growth, and prepare for life beyond Rensselaer.


Student Health and Wellness


Executive Director: Leslie Lawrence, M.D.

The Student Health Center is a comprehensive, nationally accredited, physician-directed program providing outpatient health care, mental health counseling, health promotion services, disability support services, and sports medicine. Health care services include primary and urgent care, referrals to specialists, gynecological services, and sports medicine for varsity athletes. Counseling services include individual counseling sessions and group workshops for personal and academic adjustment problems. Confidentiality is strictly maintained except when a student’s behavior presents a clear and present danger to the student or to others.

The Student Health Center is fully certified by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). The AAAHC is an independent national organization that evaluates the quality of care at ambulatory centers such as outpatient surgery centers, clinics, and college health centers. Rensselaer’s commitment to seek and maintain AAAHC certification provides assurance of the quality of patient care and the appropriate organizational framework for providing care.

Located on the Troy campus, the Gallagher Student Health Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer session and vacation hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A 160-bed community hospital with a 24-hour emergency department is located two blocks from the campus.

All matriculated students pay a Health Center Fee that provides access to the Student Health Center during each regular semester (see Tuition and Fees section). This is a mandatory fee that cannot be waived.

Rensselaer students are required to have adequate health insurance. The Rensselaer Student Health Insurance Plan provides nationwide year-round coverage at a reasonable cost (see Tuition and Fees section). This insurance plan, together with the services of the Student Health Center, provides seamless coverage for students while at school. The plan also meets J-1 visa requirements. A student, who has equivalent health insurance that provides non-urgent coverage in Troy, may request a waiver of the insurance fee. Please note: Travel Insurance Plans do not meet campus health insurance requirements and will not be accepted for a waiver of the student health insurance plan.

All students, including part-time students, must submit a medical history and immunization information to the Student Health Center. Students must show adequate evidence of meeting Rensselaer and New York pre-matriculation immunization and tuberculosis screening requirements.

Disability Services for Students Disability Services for Students (DSS) provides support services and referral information to current or potential Rensselaer students with disabilities. This service assists students in achieving access to the academic, social, and cultural programs offered on campus. Services are available to students whose disabilities may be physical/orthopedic, psychiatric, sensory (hearing, vision), or learning-related (including dyslexia, attention deficit, and traumatic brain injury).