William Destler Named RIT’s Ninth President

University of Maryland provost praised for academic experience and vision

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A. Sue Weisler

William Destler, selected to become RIT’s ninth president effective July 1, chats with community members, including student Erhardt Graeff, far left, following an open forum on Feb. 19.

William W. Destler has been named Rochester Institute of Technology’s ninth president. The RIT Board of Trustees made the decision at a special session, selecting the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of the University of Maryland from a pool of nearly 100 candidates.

Destler will assume RIT’s top post July 1, succeeding Albert J. Simone, RIT’s president since 1992. Destler will be responsible for one of the nation’s leading career-oriented universities with 15,500-students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries, 2,800 faculty and staff, an annual operating budget of more than $510 million, and an endowment of more than $570 million. The university has one of the oldest and largest cooperative education programs in the country.

“RIT is an extraordinary university and has the prospects of becoming a national treasure,” says Destler. “The university offers some opportunities to be a groundbreaking institution that can capture the new high ground in higher education. RIT is well positioned to take that next step.”

A 21-member search committee comprised of alumni, faculty, staff, students and trustees narrowed the pool of candidates before the final selection by the Board of Trustees.

“We are proud to welcome Dr. William Destler to RIT as our next president,” says Michael P. Morley (business administration, ‘69), chairman of the RIT Board of Trustees. “His breadth of experience, understanding of academia, and sense of vision for the future will help propel our university to new heights.

"The entire RIT community is looking forward to his arrival. There is a great opportunity to build from the strong position we enjoy from Dr. Al Simone’s 15 years as our president. Bill Destler, with support from all of us at RIT, will lead the university to a new level of prominence in higher education while maintaining our core values," Morley says.

Destler has spent more than 30 years at the University of Maryland, rising from the ranks of research associate and assistant professor of electrical engineering to senior vice president and provost, a position he has held since 2001. He has also served as electrical engineering department chair, dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, interim vice president for university advancement, vice president for research and dean of the graduate school.

Destler earned a bachelor’s degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, N.J., and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. An expert on high-power microwave sources and advanced accelerator technologies, he has consulted for government agencies and private firms, received more than $40 million in grants and contracts, published numerous journal articles and book chapters, and earned awards for his teaching.

The selection of Destler will further propel the university as it moves forward, said current RIT President Albert J. Simone. “I would like to welcome Dr. Destler and his family to the RIT family,” says Simone. “This is an exciting time for RIT as we are already on an upward trajectory. With Bill’s leadership, passion and vision, I am confident that we will accelerate this momentum and take RIT to even higher ground among the best universities in the nation and the world. Bill’s record as a scholar and academic leader is outstanding.”

Simone also applauded the work of the Presidential Search Committee, led by Trustee Donald Boyce. “The process was one of the best—if not the very best—that I have observed in my many years in academia over a breadth of universities and wide categories of positions,” Simone says.

Simone will retire after serving in higher education for nearly 50 years, and 15 years as RIT president. His last day is June 30.

NOTE: To download a photo of Destler, go to http://www.rit.edu/news/pics/William_Destler.jpg