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CAST Dean Wiley McKinzie heads new academic program incubator

What does an “incubator” make you think of?

Much like the function of an incubator in hatching new life, RIT’s planned Academic Program Incubator will nurture new academic programs of study.

Wiley McKinzie is taking on a new challenge.

Wiley McKinzie, dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology, is developing the incubator for launch later this year. The incubator will be a center for technology forecasters, demographers, marketing specialists and instructional designers to forecast the needs of industry and government five years before engineering and technology graduates are in demand in the marketplace.

“RIT is positioned to be a leader in identifying new technologies early in the development cycle and creating new academic programs before graduates are needed in the marketplace,” says McKinzie, adding that the current process takes up to a decade since academic programs often are created in reaction to rather than in anticipation of demand for employees.

McKinzie has a longstanding reputation as an innovator in higher education. As dean and, previously, associate dean and director of computer science and information technology at RIT, McKinzie was a pioneer in distance learning. He developed and taught RIT’s first distance-learning course in 1982 and fostered creation of the university’s first distance-learning academic program, a master’s in software development and management, in 1987.

He initiated numerous corporate training and interdisciplinary programs. Under his guidance, RIT launched first-in-the-nation undergraduate and graduate programs in information technology and software engineering and the first ABET-accredited program in telecommunications engineering technology. McKinzie was instrumental in the creation of the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.

In order to devote time and energy to development of the incubator, McKinzie temporarily stepped aside from day-to-day dean’s responsibilities in January. Guy Johnson, former director of RIT’s National Technology Training Center, is serving as interim dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology through June 30.