What would a rising sophomore majoring in medical informatics and an assistant professor of marketing from the E. Philip Saunders College of Business ever have in common? Other than their undeniable love for RIT hockey games, it may appear to be very little. However, as graduation 2009 came closer for thousands of fourth- and fifth-year students, nine faculty, three staff members and two students were nominated to attend The Greater Expectations Institute, facilitated by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, hosted by the University of Vermont. This is where the commonalities began. They were charged by the provost to reshape the undergraduate experience at RIT with a focus on the “experiences” in the first year.
Fourteen proud members of the RIT family gathered twice in preparation before traveling to the very green state of Vermont in mid-June. After candid introductions, four-inch binders bursting with the bare-bones descriptions of many RIT programs were graciously accepted by the members. They all began to learn the basic structures of the many “experiences” RIT facilitates for its undergraduate students, such as learning communities and general educational requirements.
Fast-forward a couple weeks, when the now very knowledgeable 14 RIT family members met for the third time, but now in Vermont. The faculty of the association facilitated numerous presentations which encouraged appropriate evolution and revolution of a university, but more importantly, diminished the fear of the “159 meeting” trek that awaits every college and university in attendance come August and September, when vision meets reality.
Armed with imaginations and plenty of team time, the group began the process of re-engineering the “RIT experience” for the undergraduate. On the second of five days at the University of Vermont, Michelle was born. Michelle is an imaginary student that has a distinguished path through RIT that shows where and when connections to faculty, staff and other students can be made in order to guarantee and nourish her personal, private and public success. The Greater Expectations Team first imagined the ideal RIT undergraduate experience through Michelle’s pathway. Then, with intentionality, integrations and innovations, the team pulled and pushed from programs, systems and structures that are currently in practice on RIT’s campus. With the complete and seamless cooperation and collaboration of the representatives from every college, student affairs and students themselves, the GE Team created its own family unit and a new electrifying and enriching path for the undergraduate experience at RIT.
This team, rightfully named, has set its expectations high for the students, faculty and staff here at RIT to indulge and flourish in the evolution and revolution about to hit this campus, leaving not a single brick unturned. This campus is highly diverse, multidisciplinary, and has tremendous resources for the educational enrichment for students, faculty and staff. However, paired with recommendations of the Student Success Tiger Team, the GE Team’s “master plan” is looking to challenge the islands on our campus to push each other’s tectonic plates together, supporting each other’s successes, which, in turn, will directly support the success of all our students. Only when the growth and success of the RIT freshmen to the RIT graduate are seen by all as a university responsibility can RIT’s greatest expectations be met.
Visit the Greater Expectations Team Web site, at www.rit.edu/academicaffairs/greaterexpectations, where information about the team and a full report of our recommendations can be found. Last, but certainly not least, the GE Team has begun its “159 meeting” journey across this campus where our recommendations will be presented to all the colleges and various departments. The Greater Expectations Team is in search of the wisdom of the wider RIT family, therefore your attendance and input is deeply encouraged and tremendously appreciated.