The new academic year always brings a sense of excitement and community as we welcome new faculty, staff, and students to Rensselaer. With the semester underway, members of the Class of 2018 already promise to be an exceptional group and represent the next generation of leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, and innovators.

From an academic perspective, there is a lot on campus to be excited about. Some highlights include the recent fifth-place ranking of the School of Engineering on the USA Today list of “Top 10 Engineering Colleges in the U.S.,” along with the petascale supercomputing system, the Advanced Multiprocessing Optimized System (AMOS) being ranked first among supercomputers at private American universities. In addition, Rensselaer’s partnership with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will serve as a wonderful opportunity to train tomorrow’s health care and technology leaders.

Curtis Powell

Curtis Powell

In the last few months, we have also announced several appointments in key strategic areas, including Shekhar Garde, the new dean of the School of Engineering; Linda Schadler, who has been named vice provost and dean for undergraduate education; Dave Brond, vice president for strategic communications and external relations; and recently, Graig Eastin, vice president for institute advancement.

Today, with the implementation of our online People Admin Applicant Tracking system, we have attracted over 6,000 job candidates in a shorter time or at a lower cost than advertising the positions using the traditional print and non-print media method. As the semester progresses, we look forward to sharing more updates on new hires.

In this economic climate characterized by cost-cutting and increased regulatory requirements, human resources divisions in higher education face growing demands to communicate the value they create in ways that faculty and staff can appreciate. This means moving away from soft measurements such as “improvements” and adopting quantifiable metrics that can include things such as recruitment costs, employee retention rates, and employee satisfaction metrics.

According to recent statistics, employee turnover costs can range from six to 36 months of salary and benefits. While employee benefits are a major cost to Rensselaer, we will continue to provide an affordable and comprehensive benefit program to faculty and staff. Most important, reflecting on this data motivates us to find innovative ways to increase retention rates of Rensselaer faculty and staff.

Within our industry, Rensselaer was one of the first universities to implement a merit-based compensation program that is highly effective in attracting and retaining outstanding faculty and staff. Our Staff Attrition Management process is a major component in identifying potentially inefficient or duplicate work processes.

Furthermore, the investment in developing our faculty and staff is a high priority and we will continue to offer a variety of professional development courses. Presently, we have more than 50 offerings available.

We are happy to have our students, faculty, and staff on campus. We look forward to another exciting academic year!


Curtis Powell, SPHR
Vice President for Human Resources