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The University Magazine

RIT embraces promise of the future despite current uncertainties

President Bill Destler

President Bill Destler

We live in interesting times full of challenges, yet full of opportunities.

First, let’s address some extraordinary opportunities.

Understanding the ways technology transforms our quality of life is a lot for any of us to get our arms around. And, arguably, there is no area where technology’s impact is greater than in the life sciences.

RIT is no newcomer to this field, so the university is well positioned to exploit its expertise in bioscience and medical technology. Until recently, all we lacked was a suitable partner – but no longer. In December, we announced plans to develop a strategic alliance with Rochester General Health System. RIT will become the health care provider’s official academic affiliate and RGHS will become the university’s official affiliated medical center. (See story, page 10).

Biomedical science is fast becoming a kind of information science in which RIT’s expertise in areas such as information technology, nanotechnology, robotics and imaging can play an increasingly important role. This alliance will build on these and other strengths to create tremendous opportunities for our students, faculty and staff, as well as the Greater Rochester community.

Continuing with our spirit of innovation, later this spring we plan to open our new Center for Student Innovation. The 10,000-square-foot building will serve as a showcase and workspace for innovation-related, multidisciplinary projects and activities.

The campus is also geared up for the second annual Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival (see page 16). We expect to showcase more than 400 exhibits and activities created by our students, faculty and staff. Last year, nearly 20,000 visitors came to our inaugural festival. This year we’d like to attract 30,000 people to this unique convergence of the arts, technology and much more. Imagine RIT is free and open to the public and will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 2 – rain or shine. We hope you pay us a visit. Visit for more details.

So as you see, these are exciting times!

Yet I would be remiss if I didn’t address the global financial slump. I want to reassure everyone in the RIT family that the state of RIT is strong and the university is very conservatively managed fiscally. Enrollment is at an all-time high and applications to RIT from prospective students are ahead of last year at this time. There is no immediate budgetary crisis for us to deal with.

Nevertheless, the value of our endowment has dropped by more than 20 percent. Our fundraising efforts will continue unabated, but it is very likely that our ability to secure significant gifts to RIT from alumni and friends may be compromised by the current negative fiscal climate.

Moving forward in this difficult period, our actions will be guided by two fundamental principles. First, we will work to preserve the quality of our education and research programs across the university. Second, we will work to protect the RIT family, including students, faculty, and staff. Every decision we make and every action that we take must consider these two principles. (For more about how RIT is responding to the financial crisis, see page 18.)

Working together, I am confident that we can continue to move RIT forward toward our shared goals.

Onward and upward,

President Bill Destler

Bill Destler