Commencement is the most important day in the life of a university. It is both an ending and a beginning, a celebration that marks the hard work, commitment and dedication of students, faculty and staff, a milestone on the path toward new adventures and experiences as our graduates pursue paths outside of RIT.
This year’s commencement is particularly special to my spouse Rebecca and me, because we also are graduating, as I step down after 10 years as your president. As always, we share the joy, excitement and sense of achievement for our students and families. We also share their anticipation—and maybe a bit of anxiety—of the opportunities and changes that await. But I have confidence, because I believe our faculty and staff have prepared them well with the necessary knowledge and skills to meet those challenges.
As we ourselves graduate from our time at RIT, Rebecca and I offer our heartfelt thanks for the support and encouragement that all of you have offered. We are proud of what has been accomplished during this decade, but mostly we are proud of you—our students, faculty, staff and alumni. The efforts of all of you to improve the experience that RIT students receive during their tenure here simply amaze us. The work that so many have done to turn a half-baked idea like Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival into a veritable showcase of what this remarkable university is all about is something we will never forget. And your commitment to ensuring that RIT remains an inclusive and welcoming community for all makes us so proud to have our names associated with this wonderful place.
I have been particularly pleased with seeing how RIT has evolved under the guidance of our core shared values. Our love of geeks, artists and humanists, and our belief in the possibilities that can grow out of a greater connection between them, is one such value. Our commitment to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and our appreciation for the unique diversity they bring to our campus is another. Our efforts to build an elite university without becoming elitist and our associated commitment to maintaining access to RIT for those from economically and socially challenged backgrounds are particularly noteworthy. And finally, our commitment to provide a rigorous, intellectually challenging education for our students that will ensure them a promising future is as strong as ever.
One final word: My tenure at RIT has been truly a partnership with Rebecca. Her contributions to our sustainability efforts and her many connections with students across the university, and especially with students of color, have helped to put a human face on this place and to reassure all that their voices can be heard. She has been active in the Greater Rochester community and has played a major role in the Rochester City Scholars Program. More importantly, at least to me, she has been my partner, my friend, my love, my counselor and my strongest supporter. I don’t know how to adequately say thanks to her, but I hope this feeble attempt will do until I find a way to say it better. Thanks, Becca.
And thanks again to all of you. Go Tigers!