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The University Magazine

Colleagues recall Simone’s energy, honesty and great passion for RIT

As RIT’s president for 15 years, Albert Simone has worked with many members of the campus community as well as leaders from government and business. Below, some of those associates provide their insights into the characteristics that have made Simone successful.

Colby Chandler
Colby Chandler is former Kodak chairman and CEO, and RIT trustee emeritus. He chaired the 1992 presidential search committee.
Colby Chandler
“ Among our questions that we asked all presidential candidates was ‘Would you be willing to learn sign language?’ All except Al equivocated. They said ‘I will try.’ Al said directly, without equivocation, ‘Carolie and I will learn signing.’ ”

Dane Gordon is professor emeritus, philosophy, and author of Rochester Institute of Technology: Industrial Development and Educational Innovation in an American City. A new edition will be published this year.

Dane Gordon
“Al has been an exceptional president. He’s had a great vision for RIT, and he’s followed through.”


Bruce James ’64 (printing management), former chair of the RIT Board of Trustees, recently retired as head of the United States Government Printing Office.

Bruce James '64
“From my vantage point, which includes service on the boards of five colleges and universities as well as the Associated Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and the Northwest Commission on Higher Education, I believe Dr. Simone may well be the best university president of his generation. He is certainly one of the most gifted leaders of all types that this country has ever produced.".

Charles Schumer is U.S. Senator from New York.

Charles Schumer
“The first time I met Al Simone I knew he was a special person. He was filled with that dynamism, that energy, that sincerity and all of it, all of it was just directed at helping RIT. . . . He’s the kind of guy, when you meet him, he’s dynamic, he’s energetic and you just like him, and you want to help out.”

Slaughter is Congresswoman,
28th District, New York.

Louise Slaughter
“Al Simone is a human dynamo, and
we will miss him terribly. Over the years, it has been an absolute joy watching Al turn the Rochester Institute of Technology into one of America’s premier education facilities. Although we are sad to see him go, I am thankful that he will remain an influential member of our community.”

Nicolás Rubio ’99, ’01 (international business, MBA), founded RIT’s Global Union. He is business development manager, Caribbean region, H.J. Heinz Co., and lives in Caracas, Venezuela.

Nicolás Rubio ’99, ’01
“Among the many contributions from President Simone’s leadership to RIT’s student life, I should highlight his vision of a world-class university that is a welcoming place to anyone from the United States and around the globe. His support for organizations such as Global Union, the establishment of more student-oriented special programs and activities, and major campus renovations are just a few examples that clearly show the way towards fully achieving that vision. It was a great honor indeed to have had the opportunity to work with him.”

Sandra Parker is president and CEO, Rochester Business Alliance, and an RIT trustee since 2002.

Sandra Parker
“I value his directness and honesty. When I was named first female president of the Industrial Management Council, I made appointments with each board member. Al suggested that I would not be successful. He had the guts to tell me what a lot of people were probably thinking. He really challenged me. He made me even more determined to succeed.

“A year later, he told me that he had been dead wrong about me, and shortly after he asked me to join the RIT Board of Trustees. I considered that a tremendous compliment.”

Stanley McKenzie is RIT provost.

Stanley McKenzie
“His greatest contribution is undoubtedly the significant elevation of RIT’s reputation on the national and international scene for high quality career education. Among his strengths are his incredible sense of humor and his perspective about himself and his position. He loves being president of RIT, and you can’t help loving to work for him and helping him succeed, even when he is driving you crazy!”

Deborah Stendardi is vice president, RIT Government and Community Relations division.
Deborah Stendardi
"The trust level that he has engendered with our elected officials at all levels has been tremendous. And he has held our feet to the fire to make sure we deliver what we promise. We’re very proud of the work we’ve done and comfortable with any scrutiny. He is the main voice of that message. He’s extraordinarily good at representing RIT and what we have to offer.”

Robert Snyder ’56 (chemistry) is professor emeritus, mechanical engineering (34 years, retired 2001).
Robert Snyder ’56
“If someone had said 20 years ago that this is where RIT would be today, you would have said ‘No way in God’s green earth.’ RIT has matured tremendously. Simone saw to it that a lot of things got done. He continues to be a real doer. Simone has been the genesis of a lot of the changes that have taken place.”

Alfreda Brown is RIT interim chief diversity officer.
Alfreda Brown
“I have spent countless hours with him over the past 15 years and I have learned so much about life; many examples that he used came from his own life – he is a transparent person – he has nothing to hide. That is what makes him so credible.”

Lizzie Sorkin, Student Government president,is a fourth-year film and animation major.
Lizzie Sorkin
“It helps when you work with administrators who put students first. It helps when they take the time to explain things to students that disagree with a decision. It helps when both parties have a positive relationship with each other. It’s important for the students to voice their concerns and to be comfortable to approach the seventh floor of the Eastman Building (president’s office) when a need arises.” 

Christopher Dahl is president, SUNY Geneseo and chair, Rochester Area
Christopher Dahl
“ His leadership has been pivotal, in terms of focusing public recognition on the role of higher education in the region. No one in the Rochester area has brought more energy to the task of civic leadership. Plus, he’s a pleasure to work with. He’s genuinely collegial and collaborative.”