From student to professor to director to president, Palmer Chamberlain Ricketts devoted his entire adult life to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. For 63 years he embraced the ideals of its educational enterprise and slowly crafted its transformation. Ricketts became a respected professor by rising up through the ranks in an apprenticeship-like method common to RPI in the nineteenth century. As a trained civil engineer, he was devoted to both the theory and practice of his profession. P. C. Ricketts led Rensselaer as director and then president for an unprecedented 42 years. As the first modern president, he oversaw an aggressive fund raising campaign, expansion of the campus, development of new curricula, and recruitment of a diverse faculty. He became a "one-man enterprise," a virtual "Mr. Rensselaer."
This exhibit provides just a glimpse of his career through documents from the Palmer C. Ricketts Papers and related collections. You can learn more about the Ricketts era in: