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The future of graduate education at RIT

Hector Flores, dean of graduate studies, reveals plans for the future of graduate education at RIT.

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A. Sue Weisler

Hector Flores is dean of graduate studies at RIT.

Graduate education at RIT is a relatively young 
endeavor. From a few niche advanced degrees just 50 years ago, it has grown steadily into a diverse and high-quality portfolio that trains skilled and 
innovative professionals highly desired by 
industry. MBA and MFA graduates continue to push the frontiers of creative and innovative 
expression and advanced degree researchers are capable of worldwide leadership roles in industry, academia and government. Our graduate 
portfolio will continue to grow and evolve in ways we are just beginning to imagine.

In fall 2012, Provost Jeremy Haefner charged 
a campus-wide task force with crafting a 
strategic vision for graduate education. In the spirit of shared governance, I co-chaired the task force with Agamemnon Crassidis, associate professor of mechanical engineering, as a faculty-driven 
effort representing all colleges and key stakeholders. After a year of outreach, benchmarking and 
campus-wide feedback, the strategic plan was endorsed at the Board of Trustees meeting last November. The document, “Imagine: A Strategic Plan for Graduate Education at RIT: Vision 2020,” 
is posted on the Graduate Studies website at 

I thank the members of the task force for their deep commitment to the future of graduate 
education and for their courage to discuss difficult and complex issues in the best tradition of 
collegiality and open and transparent dialogue.

As we move into the immediate next steps 
(integration with the university-wide strategic plan and implementation of initial goals), we should
consider the three major principles that guide the plan: the pursuit of excellence; the creation of a truly enriching graduate experience; and the 
purposeful integration of all the cultures of 
graduate education at RIT (arts, humanities, 
business and STEM disciplines). They are all informed and enriched by the respectful and deep mutual understanding of the varied disciplines in our graduate portfolio, and they support five 
strategic themes:

• Academic Excellence—striving to be the very best we can be.

• Structure and Administration—strategic 
university-wide evolution of graduate education.

• Cost and Revenue—promoting academic 
drivers for self-sufficiency.

• Data-driven Planning and Assessment

• Graduate Student Experience—creating an 
inclusive, diverse and integrated graduate culture.

The future of graduate education at RIT is entirely up to us, a community of teachers/scholars and 
leaders/creators/innovators-in-training. Creating the future is worrisome and hopeful, maddening and exhilarating—a path with many puddles and perhaps a Walden Pond. The task force presents the elements of this strategic plan to the RIT community as a 
conscientious and deliberative framework to engage all of us in respectful, selfless and transparent 
dialogue on how to create this future. We hope that our five integrated, interdependent and iterative strategic themes will hopefully get us to a place that elicits collective pride. As with any plan, it will be modified and improved, but not upset, by the 
proverbial devil in the details. We extend an open 
invitation to the RIT community to join us in the path toward excellence in graduate education.

I believe that the most important value of a 
strategic plan lies in renewing our sense of what is possible and in reaffirming our communal 
commitment to make it possible. I discovered Emily Dickinson during my days of doctoral study at Yale (Neruda, Vallejo and Mistral were my poetic icons then). Her capacity to synthesize and integrate the abstract, the dreamlike and the real has very few peers. Dickinson’s poetic art is innovation as its best, and this quality being one of RIT’s strongest assets, I end these thoughts on graduate education with her wondrous imagery:

“I dwell in Possibility 

A fairer House than Prose 

More numerous of Windows 

Superior for Doors”

—Emily Dickinson

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A. Sue Weisler

Hector Flores is dean of graduate studies at RIT.