She remembers it as if it were yesterday. Kathy Carcaci recalls the switchboard operator who greeted her every morning as she arrived for work at RIT’s administration building on Plymouth Avenue in downtown Rochester.
“I think her name was Eva,” she says as she leans back in her chair. “She sat in what looked like a telephone booth and would direct people where they needed to go, while plugging away at the switchboard at the same time. As an 18-year-old kid, I thought this was just amazing.”
That was 1965—the year that Carcaci, currently RIT’s longest serving staff member, started working at RIT. She has seen RIT transform from a close-knit neighborhood campus in downtown Rochester into the sprawling, state-of-the-art community that is it today. And she considers herself lucky to be part of RIT’s rich history.
“I graduated from high school on June 27, 1965, and was hired at RIT three days later on June 30,” says Carcaci, manager of staff recruitment and a senior human resources representative. “The human resources department was only 6 months old when I was hired as the secretary to the personnel director. Looking back, I laugh when I think about what I was doing. I produced memos on ditto paper and photographed and laminated faculty and staff ID photos. When staffing really took off, I was asked to work on the first employee handbook, develop our first new-employee orientation program and create all of the employment related forms. I have seen this department—and university—grow from the ground up.”
Carcaci was also in charge of typing personnel contracts for faculty and hand delivering them to former RIT president Mark Ellingson for his signature.
She fondly remembers going to lunch at Midtown Plaza with her co-workers and seeing RIT students walking to class through the city streets. The student union and counseling center were located inside big, old houses that were nestled within neighborhoods.
“We moved to Henrietta in 1968, and it was a big adjustment,” she says. “It felt like we were in the middle of a field. Deep down we all believed that the possibilities for this university were endless, but the relocation was a culture shock.”
By 1995, she had worked for four RIT presidents. She has seen each make his mark on the university.
“I have witnessed this campus develop into a home away from home for its students, and facilities like the Gordon Field House, Center for Student Innovation and Global Village were created to give our students what they now need to survive and thrive,” she says proudly.
Carcaci is one of the few employees who have witnessed the construction of every new building on RIT’s current campus. She says that her experiences have culminated with seeing RIT students arrive freshman year feeling nervous and scared, and leaving four or five years later as accomplished scholars and productive citizens.
Today, when Carcaci interviews potential employees, she knows that she is lucky to have remained an RIT employee for such a long time and doesn’t take anything for granted. She feels fortunate to be in the middle of a workplace that bleeds entrepreneurship, wellness, innovation and passion.
“I came to work here because I saw RIT as an employer on the move,” she recalls. “The benefits were excellent and it was beautiful and safe. The same holds true today. When I conduct new-employee interviews, I’m amazed that for some, RIT is a second chance—or sometimes a last chance. I am honored to have served the employees of RIT for all of these years. Although we will never again be that neighborhood, we have become a family of risk takers and visionaries, and I am so proud to have been a part of this institution for 45 years.”