Who we are.
To welcome, connect, and support our members as they engage socially and philanthropically within the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the community beyond.
The RPI WOMEN'S CLUB: 1935-36 to 2000-01.
In autumn 1935, Rachel Hotchkiss (wife of then President of RPI Hotchkiss) gathered 68 other women together, to found THE FACULTY WOMEN'S CLUB OF RPI. These 69 women thus brought into existence an energetic organisation dedicated to helping RPI families meet each other and form friendships! Mrs. Hotchkiss and the Faculty Women's Club thus started what for the past 65 years has been a unique and vital group of women and their families connected to Rensselaer.
Their original vision, that of promoting friendship in our college's community, has broadened and expanded over the years. In the 1970's, changing the group's name to The Women's Club of RPI, our organisation continued to be the pioneering group that welcomed not only faculty and staff, but students of all ages, to the Troy campus and community.
It was the women and families of our organisation that created the Institute's first Directories (from the 1930's until the late 1980's). It is our Women's Club that first raised funds for gifts to the RPI Library (when it was in the basement of the Chapel, pre-computer days); that carried petitions for the re-use of that Chapel building instead of its razing. Our organisation's talented members - long before computers - designed and published guides to the Capital region, directories of services/groups/institutions/government. It was, and is, women in the RPI community who launched and sustained essential centers and organisations in the Troy and upstate NY communities, that founded and tended libraries, arts centers, public service activities and groups.
Women who came to the RPI neighborhoods were the first watchdogs of local, city, county and state governments - in every field from law and education to minority students to health/environment to business, regional and national activities. This remarkable group of women and their families has guided us all, supported RPI in its enlightened endeavors, and led the Institute to persist where action and improvement seemed appropriate!
In February 1986, the club voted and amended its by-laws to endorse the idea that ALL RPI employees, male as well as female, be invited each Fall to join the club and participate in its activities.
Through the Women's Club of RPI, and its 65 plus years of involvement by our predecessors who led the way for us, we women who arrive in the RPI community always find ourselves surrounded by new friends and warm support for ourselves and our families. The first Faculty Women's Club and its membership are listed in the RPI Archives, as are the subsequent many years of volunteers numbering each year in the dozens, and over the years in the thousands. Thanks again to all those wise women who kept the Women's Club vibrant and vital for 65 years - though never retiring! We look forward to the next generations of the Women's Club of RPI.
Source: Helen Bayly, former President, Women's Club of RPI Inc. May, 2000.
The Rensselaer Club, 2000-2018
With the advent of the new millennium and the inauguration of Rensselaer’s first female president, the club embarked on new horizons and modern challenges. We renewed our commitment to philanthropic projects such as joining the Troy in Bloom street planting project, food drives, participation in the Troy PS 2 Opening Doors project by giving time, talents and donations and other initiatives. Within the Rensselaer Community, we continued volunteering at the on campus American Red Cross blood drives (until the student groups took charge), helped staff the Technology Awareness Day, funded a scholarship award for travel for a deserving RPI undergraduate, and more. All the while, club members enjoyed frequent social, cultural and sporting events.
Most remarkable of the changes accomplished in the early 2000’s was the concerted effort to include men as well as women in the club. As a capstone to this successful effort, the club in 2013 again changed its name not only in practice but through legal means. The articles of incorporation, first filed with the NY State Department of State in 1956, now list us as The Rensselaer Club. With sincere gratitude to those who have paved our way, we look forward with renewed vigor to many new and exciting horizons ahead.
Source: Loretta Parsons, former acting President, Women’s Club of RPI, Inc. and Historian, The Rensselaer Club. May 2015
The Rensselaer Club | Troy, New York
Claire Karlicek, President
Kathy Fontaine, Vice President
Mimsy Pye, Treasurer and Past President
Wendy Gross, Secretary