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Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson Awarded Clarkson University Honorary Degree

Potsdam, N.Y. — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's 111th Commencement on Sunday, May 9.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson told the graduating class that although Clarkson and Rensselaer are academic rivals, they share the important and common purpose of educating the leaders of tomorrow.

Jackson was one of 43 women and five African Americans attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the 60's. Shunned by her classmates, she could have become bitter and withdrawn, "however," said Jackson, "my parents taught me that it wasn't enough to succeed for one's self, but to succeed for others." As a college student, she volunteered in the children's ward at a Boston hospital and soon came to realize, as she put it, "I was the lucky one. I had my health, ability, and incredible opportunity." Jackson said, "My message to you is simple, count your blessings, use them wisely."

Shirley Ann Jackson is the 18th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological university in the United States, located in Troy, New York. Jackson is president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society, and has advisory roles and involvement in many other prestigious national organizations. She is a trustee of the Brookings Institution, a life member of the M.I.T. Corporation, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She also serves on the board of directors at the New York Stock Exchange and is a director of several major corporations.

Jackson's research specialty is theoretical condensed matter physics, especially layered systems, and the physics of opto-electronic materials. In government, she has worked as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where she spearheaded the formation of the International Nuclear Regulators Association (INRA) and was elected that group's first chairman. In industry and research, she worked as a theoretical physicist at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories, where she is best known for her advancements on polaronic aspects of electrons in two-dimensional systems. And in academe, she was previously professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University.

Jackson holds a doctoral degree in theoretical elementary particle physics and a bachelor of science degree in physics from M.I.T., and has received 23 honorary doctoral degrees. She is married to Morris A. Washington, also a physicist. They have one son, Alan, a graduate of Dartmouth College.

Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is an independent university with a reputation for developing innovative leaders. Its academically rigorous, collaborative culture involves 2,700 undergraduates and 350 graduate students in hands-on team projects, multidisciplinary research, and real-world challenges. Many faculty members achieve international recognition for their scholarship and research, and teaching is a priority at every level. For more information, visit

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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