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Plans for the university’s 175th anniversary celebration are

Historians could argue that RIT’s first tuition was $5.

That was the annual fee in 1829 for Rochester residents to hear lectures from some of America’s best-known orators – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Horace Greeley and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The lectures were presented by the Rochester Athenaeum, founded by a Revolutionary War veteran and the city’s namesake, Col. Nathaniel Rochester.

RIT dates to the Athenaeum and later Mechanics Institute. Next year, RIT begins celebrating its 175th anniversary with the May 2004 commencement. The commemoration continues through the 2004-2005 academic year.

A planning committee has begun to sketch out potential activities for the milestone, building off the slogan “RIT: Celebrating 175 years of Education, Exploration and Innovation.”

“Our committee’s charge is to plan an anniversary year that celebrates RIT’s past achievements, promotes its current success and highlights its vision for the future,” says Deborah Stendardi, associate vice president for government and community relations and co-chair of the planning committee. “We want to engage the entire university community as well as the external communities of which we are part. We envision a variety of events that highlight RIT’s significance as a university and as a community, national and international resource.”

Potential events include major speakers, time capsules, library and gallery exhibits and alumni celebrations across the nation and around the world.

“This is an opportunity to enhance the sense of community and pride among the RIT family, celebrate RIT’s accomplishments and build new traditions for the future,” says Fred Smith, secretary of the institute and assistant to the president, who also co-chairs the planning committee.

RIT’s last such birthday party was the 150th anniversary in 1979. Here are some of the highlights of that special year:

• The inauguration of President M. Richard Rose.

• A Bob Hope show.

• A Kenny Loggins concert.

• The culmination of a $42 million

capital campaign (By comparison, RIT announced a $300 million campaign in September 2002).

• A record-breaking cross-country run by RIT athletes who ran from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in 14 days.

“The 175th will be an equally memorable celebration,” promise Stendardi and Smith.