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Reflections on my 12-year rocket ride PR musings

Covering the Frozen Four frenzy that swept across campus in 2010 is easily my favorite highlight from my time with University News. (Photo by A. Sue Weisler)

“Your timing is incredible!”

That reply from then-University News director Neil Fagenbaum caught me by surprise. I had sent an e-mail to let him know I was returning to Rochester after spending the better part of a year living in California. My only request to him was to keep an ear open for local job postings. As it turned out, he wouldn’t need to.

“I literally just had a staff member resign,” he went on to share. Neil and I had developed a friendly acquaintance prior to my departure for the west coast. I knew he was excited about the possibility of having me join the staff—as was I. So, on May 30, 2000, less than two weeks after reuniting with my hometown, I formally joined the RIT community.

More than 12 years later, my relationship with RIT remains firmly in tact, but my employment status will soon change. As I announced in a post to my personal blog a few weeks ago, I am leaving my position here to return west. I have accepted a position with the University of Colorado Boulder where, beginning next week, I will serve as director of communications and alumni relations for the Leeds School of Business.

It’s impossible to adequately summarize how transformative my time at RIT has been for me. It started merely as a job—a steady source of income. But it didn’t take long for me to find fulfillment in covering campus news and sharing the university’s story with anyone willing to hear it.

I still reflect fondly over the excitement I felt traveling to San Antonio in 2001 to coordinate publicity for the Alamo Big Shot. I knew then that, in joining University News, I had scored a pretty good gig.

Increasingly RIT took on greater significance in my life. It’s not an exaggeration to say it has become part of my identity.

In 2003, I proudly joined the ranks of alumni by earning my MBA in the E. Phillip Saunders College of Business. I later added the title of adjunct professor, teaching an introductory course in public relations over several years in the College of Liberal Arts. Both opportunities enhanced my exposure to our amazing student population, which in itself proved transformative.

But ultimately taking on the title of director, leading the day-to-day operations of University News for nearly nine years, has brought me the greatest pride at RIT. So it’s not something I give up easily.

I cherish this campus community, and I want you to know that my daily interactions with faculty, staff and students have enriched my experience—and taught me a great deal.

I also wish to use this opportunity to shine the spotlight on the University News staff. It has been my honor to work with such a talented team of professionals. You would be hard pressed to find a higher performing communications staff anywhere. Just ask our peers around Rochester, or come check out the awards that decorate the entrance to our office. The campus remains in capable hands, and I will miss my colleagues tremendously.

My deepest gratitude goes to Bob Finnerty, RIT’s chief communications officer. Bob placed great faith in promoting me to director nine years ago, and he has remained a valued and trusted partner throughout.

Looking back on the past dozen years, there have been countless highlights from my time documenting the RIT story. But it remains very easy to select my favorite. Covering the frenzy leading up to the Tigers’ appearance at the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four hockey tournament was a source of pure joy, highlighted by the ground swell of pride that overtook the campus and the Rochester community. It was so much more than one team’s accomplishment. For me, it accentuated everything the university had achieved in shaping its destiny. It yelled, “We have arrived!”

It’s been remarkable to witness RIT’s ascent over the past 12 years, and I have enjoyed taking part in the rocket ride.

Yeah, I’d agree my timing is “incredible.”

  1. Ellen Shady
    Sep 10

    Best of luck, Paul! I'll miss hearing your infectious laugh in Brown Hall. To me, you'll always be Jane's "billboard dad"!

  2. Colleen Lombard
    Sep 10

    I'm so happy for you, Paul - congratulations! You will be missed...greatly! All my best, Colleen

  3. Bob Finnerty
    Sep 10


    We have had a tremendous run together partner. Remember when we were wondering what the heck a podcast was? Or this thing called Twitter? Glad we did it together.

    Time for another new journey. You will be awesome in the Rockies!

  4. Mike Dwyer
    Sep 10


    Great working with you, Boulder is a fantastic town, enjoy!


  5. Phyllis Mangefr
    Sep 10


    Best Wishes in you new endeavor. RIT certainly gets into the blood, doesn't it!?

    Phyllis Mangefrida

  6. David Diana
    Sep 11

    I wish you the very best on your next adventure.
    The very best to you as you impact another
    Institution in all you do. Be well and keep
    In touch.

  7. Cierra
    Sep 25

    Best of luck Paul! It was a pleasure working with you.

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    The Tiger Beat takes you behind the scenes with the members of RIT University News—the news and public relations division of Rochester Institute of Technology. Get the “story behind the story” and an insider’s look at who we are and what we do to publicize RIT news.
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