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Celebration never overshadows grief, nor should it Miscellaneous

The contrast in images is striking. Today, RIT celebrates the arrival of our ninth president, Dr. Bill Destler. Smiles were plentiful as hundreds of RIT students, faculty and staff gathered to welcome President Destler on his first official day on campus. The festive nature of the occasion is documented on our homepage.

But for so many people in the Rochester area, this is not a day for celebration. I’m reminded of that while visiting the Web sites of other local media outlets. Today, Internet news reports share the expressions of grief that accompany a tragic loss. A series of funeral services began today for the victims of a terrible car accident last week. The families and friends of five young women, all recent graduates of Fairport High School, are mourning the lives that ended too soon.

How can one reconcile the contrast in emotions that result from two strikingly different scenarios?  I’m not sure you can—or should.  But I believe it’s still important for the RIT community to celebrate its new beginning, even in the wake of deep sadness that has swept across our community at large.

A short time ago, I returned from RIT’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies, where President Destler was touring the center’s laboratories—a first step in his orientation to campus. Most of the local broadcast news organizations were on hand, each requesting an opportunity to speak with the new president about his first day on the job. I admit that the turnout surprised me, considering that so many media resources were dedicated this day to services for the accident victims. But in speaking with a colleague from one of the TV stations, I realized that welcoming RIT’s new president provided them an opportunity to broaden its perspective of a day in the life of the Rochester community. “Balance” was a term we often used during my time in TV when deciding the range of any day’s news coverage.

Balance—the equilibrium between joy and sorrow. It’s a lot like life itself. Yes, it’s important for RIT to celebrate an important milestone this day, but rest assured that no one on this campus has lost sight of what truly matters.


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