'64: Making an impression
Bruce James 64 is following
in the historic footsteps of Ben Franklin. This year, James was selected
by President Bush for the post of Public Printer of the United States.
Its a historic position: Franklin was the first, and James is
James, who becomes chair
of the RIT Board of Trustees in November, bought his first press at
age 11 and employed a dozen youngsters in a printing business while
in high school in Cleveland. After graduating from RITs School
of Printing Management and Sciences, he joined a leading color printing
company, rising to vice president of client services by age 27. He went
on to start more than a dozen businesses built on technological innovation
including Uniplan Corp., Electrographic Corp., Advanced Electronic Publishing
and Barclays Law Publishers.
In 1993, he retired
at age 51 and moved from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, Nev. He joined
the RIT board the following year, and hes made his mark on the
university in many ways. For one, James and his wife, Nora, donated
generously toward the 1998 addition to the Gosnell Building. The couple
commissioned the artwork etched into the black granite floor of the
buildings atrium, which is named in their honor. They also committed
a $1 million planned gift for the current fund-raising drive.
James also has remained deeply
involved in many other educational, civic, and professional organizations.
In 1998 he launched a campaign for the U.S. Senate, but withdrew to
leave the field open to a fellow Republican.
The Public Printer position
is a huge honor. Yet James seems equally gratified to have been chosen
RIT board chair, a position he takes very seriously and to which he
brings his characteristic vision.
My interests lie in
where are we going with this university over the next 20, 30, 40, 50
years, he explains. We must be certain that what were
putting into place today really is what is important to the future of
Technology is the driving
force of all of our lives, he continues, but particularly
in a technological university, its something weve got to
understand, and know what the possibilities are. Youve probably
heard it said that of all the people who lived in the history of the
world, 60 percent of them are alive today. And 85 percent of all the
scientists who have ever worked in the history of the world are at work
today. What that is leading to is the tremendously accelerated pace
of technological change that were seeing.
Hes also very concerned
about the rising cost of higher education. James was the first member
of his family to graduate from college. A full, four-year scholarship
made that possible. Im not sure I could have come here without
that scholarship, he says. He has supported scholarships over
the years, but he feels theres more to be done.
If were going
to see to it that education is affordable to families, and that students
dont have to leave college with huge debts, were going to
have to find ways of partnering, similar to what industry does,
James says. I think youre going to see universities, colleges,
come together, probably on a regional basis, and look at how to rationalize
the resources. And I see RIT, in fact, being a leader in that.
His other new job, as U.S.
Public Printer, is equally challenging. As chief executive officer of
the Government Printing Office, James will lead a staff of 3,500 and
oversee an annual budget of $1 billion.
The Government Printing
Office has been such a force throughout the last two centuries,
he notes. I remember as a youngster in this business in the 60s
and 70s that the Government Printing Office was the technological
leader in the application of new technology. It certainly wouldnt
be characterized as being the leader at this point. Theyre doing
a lot of marvelous things, but it has not been the industry leader in
One focus is the evolution
from print to electronic information, an area James is well-qualified
to address. The GPO has the responsibility for the printing, publishing
and distribution of all government documents for all three branches
of the government Everything but money, says James.
Laws enacted long before the digital era regulate the process, so its
no easy matter to replace printed documents with electronic distribution
of official information.
Plus, with electronic information,
authenticity and long-term storage are considerations.
So there are a lot
of challenges in front of us to make certain that we can take advantage
of technologies that will be available, notes James. What
I hope to do is lead our government in developing a plan thats
more relevant to the 21st century in how were going to collect,
process and distribute information.
If anyone can handle the
job, its Bruce James, says RIT President Albert Simone. Bruce
is one of the most thoughtful and creative trustees we have, he
comments. His selection to lead the Government Printing Office
is a fitting tribute to his remarkable achievements.