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Shirley Ann Jackson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's president, to speak about the role of higher education in an interconnected world, April 2, 2015

Shirley Ann Jackson, PhD, the 18th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will discuss the ways that institutions of higher learning can reanimate the idea of a liberal education, and redefine the leadership they offer, in order to address complex and interconnected global challenges. Jackson’s lecture is the inaugural event of the Pauline Newman ’47 Distinguished Lecture in Science, Technology, and Society.

In the lecture, “The New Polytechnic: Addressing Global Challenges, Transforming the World,” Jackson will consider the crucial role of colleges and universities in bringing together brilliant people across disciplines, sectors, and global regions. She will also explore higher education’s role in developing and supporting new tools and technologies—particularly advances in computation—that can transform human endeavor in every field and uplift the human condition.

This lecture will be held on Thursday, April 2, 5:00pm, in Taylor Hall, room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

Jackson was the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A theoretical physicist, she has had a distinguished career that includes senior positions in academia, government, industry, and research. In 1999, Jackson was chosen as president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. During her tenure, she has positioned Rensselaer as a global leader in research and technological innovation. Forward-looking research initiatives at Rensselaer are underway to address the greatest challenges of humanity in energy, water, and food security; national and global security; human health; climate change; and the allocation of scarce natural resources.

The Honorable Pauline Newman, the lecture’s namesake, graduated from Vassar in 1947, and went on to earn a PhD in chemistry from Yale University and an LL.B. from New York University School of Law. Her early career involved work in research, patent law, and policy work. Since 1984 Judge Newman has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Her distinguished career as a jurist has included authoring many important opinions in the field of intellectual property and patent law, and more broadly, she has been involved in many decisions that have bridged issues of importance for the practice and application of science and technology, for government, business and academia.

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays-Fridays, at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space/and or assistance may not be available. For detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities, search for “campus accessibility information” on the Vassar homepage (

Directions to the Vassar campus, located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, are available at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, March 5, 2015