Alumni Advisory Committee on RSE 3.0 January 2021

We have been making steady progress on RSE 3.0 since our Alumni Retreat on November 14th.  The Alumni Advisory Committee (AAC) has met 3 times and we have laid out the framework for a new mission and approach to RSE, RSE 3.0, that should serve us well going into our second 150 years.

The vision for RSE 3.0 is to create “A revitalized organization at Rensselaer that focuses on the core values of our historic Society and uses our independence and unique Rensselaer relationship to develop a new innovative model for a student-run, living-learning organization that creates deep, life-long ties between students, the alumni and Rensselaer.”

It is easy to state a vision like this for RSE 3.0, but the challenge will be to turn this vision into an executable plan that can be implemented as part of our reinstatement in 2021.  This is the task of the AAC.  Our objective over the next 4 months will be to:

  • Present the RSE 3.0 Plan at the Spring 2021 Trustees and Society Meeting for approval.
  • Integrate the RSE 3.0 Plan into the Reinstatement and Recruiting process for the Fall of 2021 with the potential to do a soft recruitment this Spring.

To accomplish this objective, we will need to engage students starting in January 2021 to explore new concepts and create a blueprint for the new organization through focus groups, information sessions, and business model canvas activities (more on this later).  We will need to work with faculty to explore areas where RSE 3.0 can support the goals of Rensselaer.  We have already begun discussions with the Severino Center, the Archer Center for Leadership, the Center for Career and Professional Development, the Civil Engineering Department (focused on energy, environment, and smart building systems), as well as an organization called Engineers for a Sustainable World.

The AAC has laid out a plan to get to deliver a plan by April by focusing on five work streams:

  1. Engagement with the Dean of Students Office around RSE 3.0 and reinstatement,
  2. Engagement with Faculty to develop the mission and structure RSE 3.0 to support faculty initiatives (and build faculty support),
  3. Engagement with current students to get their input on RSE 3.0 to make sure we structure an organization that is attractive to and creates value for student members,
  4. Engagement with Alumni to ensure we get input from Alumni and gain their support for RSE 3.0 as well as establishing active involvement in the mission of RSE 3.0,
  5. Drafting of the RSE 3.0 Plan for presentation to the Society and Trustees.

There is a tremendous amount of work between now and April.  The AAC has broken into 10 work teams to deliver the detailed mission and activities of RSE 3.0, the recruitment plan, new member education plan, the student operations plan, the alumni operations plan, the Rensselaer Administration operations plan, RSE 3.0 governance structure, the revised business plan, the facility update plan and the capital plan.  Each group has been assigned a leader and 4-7 AAC member participants.

We have had particularly good support from the Severino Center.  They immediately saw the synergy between our mission, the Severino Center mission, and the Rensselaer 2024 Plan as one of its core themes is enhancing innovation at Rensselaer.  Many of our Alumni have started their own businesses or have been involved in startup organizations and as we discussed at the Retreat in November, this is a mission that a lot of Alumni seem to support.  The Severino Center is assisting us in establishing a core group of like-minded faculty and students to assist in exploring the mission and activities of RSE 3.0.  We are going to form a group of 5-10 current students including some of our Junior Members to begin a fast-paced market research activity to engage a large group of students.  We will be using a process called the Non-Profit Business Model Canvas (  We will be kicking this off next week with a series of meetings with faculty and students.

We have also made some progress with Rensselaer Administration.  We had a meeting before Christmas with Peter Konwerski, the VP for Student Life and Travis Apgar, the Dean of Students to outline the RSE 3.0 approach.  We emphasized that we must partner with the Rensselaer Administration to create a new model for RSE 3.0 as the future for sustainable fraternity/sorority organizations.  We are looking for their support for engagement with students in the Spring 2021 semester and to collaborate with them to define and implement this new relationship with Rensselaer.  In general, they were encouraged by our approach and supportive of this change.  The deans’ biggest concern was how do we transition from a purely social fraternity to one with a specific mission around professional development and innovation.  The Trustees and current Junior Members have followed up meetings planned with the deans to discuss this transition.

Alumni involvement in the professional/career development and mentoring of its members will be a key strength of RSE 3.0.  We are in the process of updating our database, so please make sure we have your correct contact information.  We will be coming back to you with a request to provide some resume-oriented background material that will allow Junior Members and Alumni to get touch with you to network.  Stay tuned.

We are planning to hold the next Alumni Retreat on Saturday February 21, 2021 at 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM EST to discuss the RSE 3.0 model and gain Alumni feedback.  If you are interested in attending, please email me at

RSE’s suspension and COVID-19 have created an opportunity for us to critically assess the future of RSE and fraternity/sorority organizations at Rensselaer.  RSE, as an independent and Rensselaer-focused organization, is uniquely positioned to partner with Rensselaer to create a new type of student-run, alumni-supported, living-learning organization that can significantly contribute to the academic and professional success of students and RPI, now and over the long term.  Through strong collaboration between RSE and Rensselaer, we have an opportunity to create a role-model organization for the evolution of fraternities and sorority organizations at US universities.  We hope you will join us to secure the future of RSE as a meaningful and vibrant Society.

It is great to see RSE Alumni spanning eight decades participating and supporting our efforts to enhance RSE.  If you have any questions, please feel to reach out to me at

Thy Strength is My Strength,

Don Thoma ‘83

Chair of the Alumni Advisory Committee

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