Destler Brings More Than 30 Years of Academic Experience to RIT

Incoming president helped lead University of Maryland to national prominence




Follow Bob Finnerty on Twitter
Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

Rochester Institute of Technology’s incoming president, William W. Destler, played a key role in leading the University of Maryland to becoming one of the nation’s top public universities.

As senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Maryland since 2001, Destler focused on increasing student retention, leading to a rise in the graduation rate from 62 percent to 80 percent over five years. During his term as graduate school dean, from 1999 to 2001, student applications increased by more than 20 percent, and research funding rose by more than 30 percent. While interim vice president for advancement, Destler is credited with securing a $25 million gift from Comcast Corp. for naming rights supporting the construction of the Comcast Center sports arena.

As engineering school dean, a position in which he served from 1994 to 1999, Destler created the Gemstone Program, a multidisciplinary four-year research program for undergraduate honors students of all majors in which teams of students design, direct and conduct research exploring the interdependence of science and technology with society (visit http://www.gemstone.umd.edu/Main/aboutus.htm). Other achievements at Maryland include leading a faculty team in the creation of a cross-disciplinary master’s degree program in telecommunications; originating the Hinman CEOs Program, a living-learning entrepreneurship initiative for undergraduate students; and involvement in the President’s Promise, an outside-the-classroom experiential program for freshmen.

“The Trustees of RIT are to be congratulated on their judgment in selecting such a remarkably prepared and demonstrably capable academic leader. We wish Bill and Rebecca well in their new positions and new lives in Rochester,” says University of Maryland President C. D. Mote Jr. “For the past 34 years and over his entire professional career, Bill Destler has served the University of Maryland with distinction. Bill has great talent, integrity and an uncommon understanding of the best interest of this remarkable institution. He has amassed a long list of accomplishments at Maryland. Among his most repeated accolades are his quick mind, his ability to teach and his personal warmth and caring for everyone. He has been a great supporter of me personally, a valued colleague and a trusted confidant."

Mote continued: “The University of Maryland can also take great pride in Bill’s appointment at RIT for it reflects greatly the academic distinction and national stature of the university, and it once again reminds us that the University of Maryland attracts, nurtures and launches national leaders.”

Destler says he comes from a family of “humanists”—including his wife, Rebecca Johnson, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology; his father, a historian; and other members of his family who pursued the humanities.

His professional interest leads him to joke, “I’m the only person I know who rebelled against his family by going into engineering.”

The couple has two sons—a computer science and theater major at the University of Maryland and a senior in high school.

The incoming RIT president has a passion for antique banjos. Destler and his wife also share an interest in alternative-powered vehicles and scooters.

#

Following is a statement from University of Maryland at College Park President C. D. Mote Jr.:

Today, the Board of Trustees of Rochester Institute of Technology announced the appointment of Dr. William W. Destler as its ninth President, effective July 1, 2007. The trustees of RIT are to be congratulated on their judgment in selecting such a remarkably prepared and demonstrably capable academic leader. We wish Bill and Rebecca well in their new positions and new lives in Rochester.

For the past 34 years and over his entire professional career, Bill Destler has served the University of Maryland with distinction, first as a post-doctoral research scholar, then as a faculty member of electrical engineering and subsequently through the administrative ranks from department chair, dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and then taking on three vice president’s positions—interim vice president for advancement, vice president for research and dean of the graduate school and, since 2001, as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. As provost, his vision, judgment and counsel have been critical to our academic and fiscal directions during this period of unparalleled achievement.

Bill has great talent, integrity, and an uncommon understanding of the best interest of this remarkable institution. He has amassed a long list of accomplishments at Maryland. Among his most repeated accolades are his quick mind, his ability to teach, and his personal warmth and caring for everyone. He has been a great supporter of me personally, a valued colleague and a trusted confidant.

The University of Maryland can also take great pride in Bill’s appointment at RIT for it reflects greatly the academic distinction and national stature of the university, and it once again reminds us that the University of Maryland attracts, nurtures and launches national leaders.

Patsy and I, along with the entire University family, want to thank Bill for his extraordinary contributions to the university. We all will miss Bill and Rebecca, just as we all wish them well in their new adventure.

C. D. Mote Jr.
President
University of Maryland at College Park