President David Munson spoke to the crowd during New Student Orientation on Aug. 23 in the Gordon Field House. Below is the full text of his speech:
Thank you, Provost Haefner.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome all students, both new and returning, graduate and undergraduate, freshmen and transfers, to RIT. It is also my pleasure to welcome all parents and friends of our students who are here to wish them well and send them off on their educational journey. Your love and support will be incredibly important to them in the coming years.
Students: I have a great deal in common with you today. I too, along with my wife, Nancy, am beginning my journey at RIT. Like you, I am learning how to get around campus, trying to understand the lingo and culture of this university, and how I will make my way as I begin my tenure as your president.
While most of you arrived just yesterday, I have been here a couple of months and what I have found so far is that RIT is a university like no other. I am confident in saying that both you and I have made the right choice!
This is a university where technology, the arts and design intersect in ways that will improve our communities, our nation, and our world. We have RIT Tigers all around the globe shaping and improving the world. And now it’s your turn.
RIT is a diverse place, with the presence of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf adding to RIT’s uniqueness. I have found RIT to be a very welcoming campus and I hope you do too. As you’ve heard from Dr. Johnson and Farid, we are ready to provide you with an amazing array of opportunities to complement your academic life with offerings in almost any area you can imagine. Faculty are anxious to work with you – both in and outside of classes – to teach you, challenge you, and help you unlock the creativity and innovation that lives in each of you. Staff across campus look forward to supporting you as you continue on your journey to graduation. In short, we are ready to help you make the most of your studies here.
But I won’t try to fool you – RIT is not an easy place. You will be challenged daily and you will push the limits of your comfort zones on a regular basis – mostly in a good way. When I visited the Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival last spring, I saw students who are curious. I saw students who had learned how to turn their ideas into action. I saw students who are passionate about what they do and who have a real sense of purpose. I envision that for all of you and I am excited about how your passions and purpose will evolve and emerge. But to get there, you will have to work really hard and be willing to push yourself farther than you ever have before.
Although we will challenge you and push you on a regular basis, you will find RIT to be a supportive place. No matter where you come from – small towns, big city suburbs, inner cities, rural areas, other countries – there are people and organizations here to help you. Whether you are the first in your family to attend college or the 10th – we have structures in place to help you navigate RIT’s systems and processes. If you feel like giving up at any point – don’t. Just reach out to your faculty, academic advisor, RA, roommate, friend, coach…and they will be ready to help you through the tough times. Be thoughtful in your decisions about your academics and your personal life and look out for one another. In my short time here, I have found this university has the will and the resources to help students work harder and smarter. Take advantage of them. Ask questions. Ask why. Use your time at RIT to nurture your intellectual curiosity. Learn how to put your creativity to use. Take those hard classes, work on that stretch project, or try that new activity. Be involved in creating things that never before existed in an effort to improve the world. Make lots of friends. And yes, have fun along the way!
As you start to unleash your academic potential, I encourage you to learn from one another. You will meet people who are very similar to you and you will also meet people who are very different from you. Be open to learning and growing. Learn how to discuss sensitive topics honestly and respectfully. Learn how to disagree. Learn how to become involved in your communities to effect positive change. Here at RIT we will provide you with guidance and opportunities to learn about community engagement and to actually do it. These and other experiences outside the classroom may be as important as your academic studies. Don’t miss these chances to develop your skills in communication, problem solving and leadership.
One can never underestimate the power of our students and their ideas, supported by outstanding faculty and staff, to do great things. As RIT continues to become more research oriented, you, our students, will be at the forefront. We wish for RIT to be the most student-centered research university in the nation as we educate the future leaders of society. And along with preparation for a career, you will be positioned to lead lives of great purpose and consequence, far beyond your chosen field.
By working together, we can turn big dreams into reality. I am so excited by the possibilities and I hope you are too. I will be here to support you and to celebrate your accomplishments throughout your journey. I look forward to standing in front of you in a few short years, applauding your graduation!
Finally, GO TIGERS!