The new RIT Alumni Association president wants students to view themselves as alumni long before they graduate so they have a stronger connection with RIT after completing their studies.
“Our role is to be involved in each step of that relationship,” says Ricardo Venegas ’92 (finance), who was installed as president in July and is ready to lead the association in his two-year term as president.
In recent years, Alumni Association presidents have been able to serve for two two-year terms. Venegas will serve for just one two-year term, enabling more alumni to give back to their alma mater in this role.
“We’ve done great work over the past 10 to 15 years,” Venegas says. “Hopefully I can accelerate that.”
During his undergraduate stay at the university, Venegas found time amidst his challenging classwork to get involved on campus. As a member of the Sigma Pi fraternity, he was able to assume various leadership roles with Greek Council and Student Government.
“It was a great time in my life; I learned quite a lot from the variety of campus activities,” Venegas says. “We had some truly great educators whose advice was instrumental in my career decisions.”
Originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, Venegas moved back home after graduation to work with his family in their many business ventures, allowing him to put his newly acquired skills to use. After a few years, he returned to the U.S. and joined the C-TEC Corp. (later RCN Corp.), where he began his career in the telecommunications and media industry. Since then, Venegas has worked with a number of startup and established companies in traditional and new media businesses and has negotiated more than $9 billion in financing and mergers and acquisitions transactions.
Today, he works as the chief financial officer with One Media Corp. Inc and the New York Cosmos professional soccer team. He lives in Somerset, N.J., with his wife, Gabriela, and their two children, Ricardo and Carlos.
Venegas first started getting back in touch with his RIT roots in 2004 and volunteered as an admissions recruiter in 2007, representing RIT at events and college fairs. Venegas had a special focus on Hispanic and minority students.
“English was my second language when I first moved to Syracuse in 1975,” Venegas says. “I was able to identify with that situation and be a role model for these kids.”
In 2009, Venegas got elected to the Alumni Association Board of Directors. In 2011, he was asked to take on the role of vice president. He remained in that position until he assumed the presidential position in July.
When it comes to his vision for the board, Venegas has one main focus: viewing the alumni process as “cradle to grave.” He wants students to begin envisioning their relationship with the university before they even enroll as freshmen and for them to maintain that relationship throughout their lives.
“RIT played an important role in my career and it took me a while to realize that,” Venegas says. “I want students to remember the important role RIT played for them.”
Serving more than 114,000 RIT alumni across the world, the Alumni Association works to enhance alumni involvement and to engage alumni in RIT-related programs and activities. According to Venegas, the board also strives to mesh its goals with the goals President Bill Destler sets for the university. A key focus for Venegas during his term will be to continue the board’s initiative to increase alumni giving.
“It’s important for all of us to understand the continuing value that RIT provides the alumni community,” Venegas says. “Maintaining RIT’s strength will increase that value going forward.”
When it comes to his new position, Venegas is ready to roll up his sleeves and get as much done as possible. Although he added that he is sure he will find his own challenges over the next two years, he is confident that with the help of his colleagues they will be able to continue to strengthen the board.
“I see this role as my opportunity to have an impact,” says Venegas. “It is important for us to make RIT the best place possible for our current and future alumni.