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The University Magazine

New president chosen

University of Maryland provost arrives July 1

William W. Destler, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of the University of Maryland at College Park, will become president of RIT on July 1. The Board of Trustees made the decision at a special meeting March 1, selecting Destler from among two finalists and an initial pool of nearly 100 candidates.

William W. Destler, RIT’s ninth president

“This is a proud moment for me,” Destler said, speaking via video link during a news conference announcing his appointment. “RIT is an extraordinary university and has the prospects of becoming a national treasure. The university offers some opportunities to be a groundbreaking institution that can capture the new high ground in higher education.”

“We are proud to welcome Dr. Destler to RIT as our next president,” said Michael P. Morley ’69 (business administration), chair of the Board of Trustees. “His breadth of experience, understanding of academia, and his sense of vision for the future will help propel our university to new heights. There is a great opportunity to build on the strong position we enjoy from Dr. Albert Simone’s 15 years as our president.”

Simone concurs with that assessment. “This is an exciting time for RIT as we are already on an upward trajectory,” said Simone, who is retiring June 30. “With Bill’s leadership, passion and vision, I am confident that we will accelerate this momentum and take RIT to even higher ground among the best universities in the nation and the world.”

Simone also applauded the work of the Presidential Search Committee, led by Trustee Donald Boyce ’67 (business administration). “The process was one of the best – if not the very best – that I have observed in my many years in academia over a breadth of universities and wide categories of positions,” said Simone.

A 21-member search committee comprised of alumni, faculty, staff, students and trustees narrowed the pool of candidates before the final selection by the Board of Trustees.

As part of the selection process, Destler spent two days on campus meeting with numerous campus groups. Speaking during an open forum Feb. 20, Destler commended RIT for its unique mix of high-caliber programs in a wide range of disciplines – including those within NTID.

He talked about ideas that might be explored in the future, including a requirement that all students participate in a project involving innovation – similar to Maryland’s Gemstone Program, which he is credited with creating. Other ideas included establishing research-and-development programs for industry; additional strategic global partnerships; and academic programs emphasizing cross-disciplinary cooperation – including a possible first-in-the-nation “team Ph.D.” program.

“These are not proposals – I’m not even sure they’re good ideas,” he noted. “But they are conversation starters.”

In response to audience questions, Destler expressed support for the arts and humanities, and he emphasized the value of scholarship.

“When I look at a university, I see a community of learners,” he explained. “The students are here to learn, but so are the faculty and staff. In a very real sense, teaching, research and scholarship, and creative activity all together comprise the educational enterprise. I think we want a community in which everybody is learning.”

Web extra:
For more information, including video of the news conference, a photo gallery and news releases, see University News Web site at www.rit.edu/news.