On an after-work run around campus last night, I could see her head rise just a short distance ahead of me. A deer, not an uncommon sight, leapt from the woods and crossed Andrews Drive, where she paused. “Wait,” I thought, realizing another was likely to follow. Sure enough, a spotted baby deer emerged and followed mom into the wooded area on the other side.
I’m pleased that small moments like this still make an impression on me—a reminder of the good fortune I feel to work on a beautiful college campus. I try not to miss a moment to admire my surroundings. But on this occasion, it raised a perplexing question. “Why don’t RIT students seem to share my appreciation?”
I want to be careful to not offer a blanket observation, but my concern stems from the most recent “best colleges” edition released by The Princeton Review earlier this week, which bases its results on student surveys. Obviously, not every student gets to take part.
The good news is, once again, Rochester Institute of Technology is included among “the best.” But with it comes the annual thorn that also ranks us among the “least attractive campuses.” Since peeking at #2 back in 2002 (feeling a bit like Casey Kasem here), RIT has slowly worked its way down the “least attractive” top 20, actually placing at #20 last year. Surely our momentum would finally drop us off it this year. Nope, back up to #18.
I really don’t get it. It’s true that RIT lacks the ivy-covered exteriors that often represent the classic image for institutions of higher learning. But a significant investment in renovations and other improvements over recent years has really transformed this place, as evidenced by the photos taken by University News photographer Sue Weisler that I’ve sprinkled throughout my post.
This is hardly the same campus I came to work at in 2000, and it’s always a hoot to see the reaction of alumni who return following a prolonged absence. The sense of pride on their faces is often palpable.
So what is it that students, at least the ones The Princeton Review survey, see that I don’t—or don’t see that I do. I wish I had more basis for comparison. Thinking back, I’m kicking myself for not stopping at Bucknell University while driving past it last month on my way to Gettysburg. I guess I was just acting ‘stupidly,’ which, as we all know by now, qualifies me for a beer at the White House. Anyway, I wonder if some added perspective might prove insightful.
So, while I write this first and foremost as a public relations representative of the university, the passion with which I do so comes as an employee, alumnus and overall fan of RIT. And I know it’s a passion I share with so many others. Maybe we all just need to do a better job of voicing it.
Let’s start now! Please accept my invitation to share your observations here.