ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
The Rochester Athenaeum, a society devoted to learning about recent developments in science and technology, was founded in 1829, with Nathaniel Rochester as its first President. Several decades later, in 1885, the Mechanics Institute was founded by a group of Rochester citizens, including Henry Lomb, Max Lowenthal, and Frank Ritter, to provide training in technology and industrial arts in a humanistic context.
In 1891, these two institutions -- the then Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Association and the Mechanics Institute -- merged to form the new Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute, the name proposed by Ezra Andrews who became President of the new Board of Trustees (1891-1899).
The Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute of 1891 continued to expand its offerings to meet the needs of its students and industrial partners. Beginning in 1912, it offered cooperative education programs, combining classroom instruction with the world of work. In 1944, the name of the institution was changed to the Rochester Institute of Technology to reflect its range of technological, artistic, and commercial studies.
In 1950, RIT became the first institution in New York State to grant the Associate in Applied Science degree. In 1953, the New York State Board of Regents authorized the Institute to offer the Bachelor of Science degree; in 1956, the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree was authorized. The first graduate degrees were offered in 1958, and the first doctoral degree program in 1992. In 1966, RIT was chosen by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare as the sponsor for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
In 1968, when RIT moved from downtown Rochester to its new campus, the Institute's diversity further broadened. Today RIT is comprised of eight colleges: Applied Science and Technology, E. Philip Saunders College of Business, B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, Kate Gleason College of Engineering, Imaging Arts and Sciences, Liberal Arts, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and Science. It offers degrees in more than one hundred and fifty professional fields.
The Institute is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees composed of forty-three members and those designated as honorary trustees. The Board has responsibility for the selection of the president, the financial strength of the Institute, and the approval of its overall policies. It has an extensive committee structure to assist in its work.
The President is the chief executive officer of the Institute. The five major areas of Institute activity are Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management and Career Services, Finance and Administration, Student Affairs, and Development/Alumni Relations. Each of these divisions is led by a Vice President. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs serves as the chief academic officer. The Secretary of the Institute assists the Board of Trustees and the President to carry out their related responsibilities.
The Institute is chartered by the Legislature of the State of New York and accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. RIT holds membership in the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, American Council on Education, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Association of Independent Technological Universities, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Eastern Collegiate Athletic Association, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (New York), and the Association of Colleges and Universities of the State of New York. Many of the programs of study are accredited or approved by professional organizations, and each college and division holds membership in organizations appropriate to its endeavors.
The history of the Rochester Institute of Technology is the story of remarkable men and women -- creative leaders, generous benefactors, outstanding teachers, imaginative staff, and generations of talented students who have gone on to make distinguished contributions to their social communities, places of work, and professional fields. It is a story replete with the names of good and wise people, some well known and some unknown, whose commitment to constantly improving education has brought RIT to the reputation it gratefully enjoys today.
Mrs. Grace Dalbridge Watson may be regarded as a symbol of this history and of all the women and men whose generous personal efforts and talents have, since 1829, built the visible and invisible fabric of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Grace Watson was a quiet woman, unknown to the Institute, living on Hayward Avenue in Rochester. When she died on January 7, 1961, at the age of ninety, she left the Institute a surprising gift of $3.27 million, then the largest in the Institute's history. Her bequest gave the Board of Trustees the courage to buy new land south of the city and build the new RIT campus, subsequently opened in 1968.
Today, when faculty and staff teach and work on the 1300 acre campus Grace Watson's gift made possible, in the buildings named for so many other benefactors, and when residential students take their meals in "Gracie's" -- as they familiarly call the Dining Hall named in her honor -- we all do so in gratitude for the Grace Watsons of our history: the past benefactors, faculty, administrators, staff, trustees, and students who created the legacy which the policies and procedures in this Manual seek to safeguard and promote.