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The Campaign for RIT

On Sept. 28, 2002, RIT made history. That evening, before a crowd of 300 volunteers, donors, and friends in the Clark Gymnasium, RIT announced the launch of its most ambitious fundraising campaign – a campaign whose goal is $300 million and theme is “Powered by the Future.”

“This campaign is a bold statement,” said President Albert J. Simone, “to the Rochester community but also to this nation and to the world that Rochester Institute of Technology is preparing now to meet the demands and opportunities of technological education in the new century.”

Campaign preparation and fundraising began in 1998, following six years of university-wide strategic planning. Since then, the board of trustees has joined key administrators in establishing a steering committee, hiring critical development staff, determining campus-wide priorities of need, and meeting with hundreds of alumni, parents and friends of RIT to request and attain their early support. In fall 2001, the board officially approved the campaign goal and structure, an anticipated public announcement in fall 2002, and a target closure date of June 30, 2006.

RIT kicked off the public phase of a $300-million campaign at a special event in September. Seated, from left, are: Catherine Carlson, a longtime supporter of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science; Trustee Bruce Bates, who funded the Bruce and Nancy Bates Study Center in the College of Science; and Rochester businesswoman and Trustee Christine Whitman. Standing, from left, are students Jeffrey Dank and David Fetzer, recipients of the Carlson Imaging Science Scholarship; Ian Gatley, dean of the College of Science; Thomas Henthorn, one of 30 Whitman Scholars; and Erick Littleford (at the podium), president of student government.

The Campaign for RIT is comprehensive with goals for both capital and special operating needs. It seeks resources to propel the university to the next level in terms of student and faculty recruitment and success, campus facilities, and research opportunities.

“The campaign is necessary to provide the funding for the current and future growth of RIT,” states Bruce James '64, chairman of the board of trustees. “It is imperative that we make significant investments today in order to reap the rewards long into the future.”

President Simone believes that RIT's uniqueness makes the university a sound investment. “RIT is different because of its career focus and because of its emphasis on the success of our undergraduate students. Teaching is the most important thing we do and learning is the most important outcome we have. We build our curriculum, our teaching and our research around partnerships with industry and government so that when our students graduate, they are fully aware – and prepared to meet – the challenges and opportunities faced by industry and government.”

A terrific beginning

In 1998, in coordination with the Gleason Foundation, James and Janis Gleason were among the first to make a leadership gift to the campaign. In recognition of their $12 million gift, the largest single gift ever received by the university, RIT named the Kate Gleason College of Engineering for Kate Gleason, former secretary-treasurer of Rochester's Gleason Works and a pioneer in engineering. The first woman elected a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Ms. Gleason was also the first woman president of the First National Bank of Rochester. The gift has been used to recruit more women and minority students in engineering; to develop new graduate and research programs; and to renovate the 30-year-old James E. Gleason Building, home to the college.

By the September 2002 public announcement, RIT had recruited nearly 200 volunteers to aid in the effort and raised more than $150 million, putting the effort over the midpoint. In addition to Mr. and Mrs. Gleason, major contributors included trustee B. Thomas Golisano, Chairman and CEO of Paychex, Inc., whose $14-million gift established the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, the most comprehensive computing college in the nation; and Rochester businessman Ernest J. DelMonte and the DelMonte Corporation who gifted a hotel, valued at $14 million and now re-named the RIT Inn and Conference Center.

“Rochester Institute of Technology is a real pillar of strength in our community,” commented Golisano, who is proud to serve as honorary chair of The Campaign for RIT. “The quality of the output of students, the technical environment, the achievement level of the people who have attended the university and now are out in the work force is all terrific and we need to support institutions like RIT.”

Setting the goals

Priority areas of need for The Campaign for RIT and their fundraising goals are:

Investing in Students: $75 million

Recruiting and Retaining Top Faculty: $50 million

Reinventing the Campus: $70 million

Supporting Applied Research and Learning: $75 million

Fund for the Future: $30 million

The Nathaniel Rochester Society Scholarship Fund, established in 1991, has supported over 1,400 outstanding students.

More than one-third of the $300 million goal is sought for endowment. Growing RIT's endowment is critical to our ability to remain agile. The income from endowment provides for RIT programs in perpetuity – supporting scholarships and faculty, equipment and the library, for example. In June 2002, our endowment totaled $405 million or $27,000 per student – a figure that pales beside those of our chief competitors. In order to recruit and retain the leaders of tomorrow, we must increase current and endowed scholarship aid that is based on need and merit.

A 1959 graduate of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, Charles Volpe wanted to give back. Remembering the financial struggles he felt as a student, he and his wife, Andrea, decided this past year to establish a full-tuition engineering scholarship in their name. “By removing the financial concerns of even one student, I know that I am promoting excellence in education and helping that young person on the road to a successful career,” he says.

With the rising cost of tuition– nearly $19,000 for the 2002-03 academic year at RIT – some of the country's best students are forced to select their college or university based on the offer of financial aid. By raising significant new scholarship funds, we will secure RIT's share of these top students. Scholarship funds do more than boost enrollment figures: they also strengthen the quality of the student body, critical for recruiting top faculty.

“The best teachers are seeking the best students,” observes Chairman James. “If we can demonstrate that RIT has been able to recruit top-notch students into our programs, we will have no problems finding the faculty for those programs.”

RIT's faculty is committed to excellence in teaching and the university is committed to supporting the teaching and research needs of that faculty. Through an estimated 20 endowed professorships, requiring $1.5 to $3 million each, the campaign will provide the resources necessary to offer competitive faculty salaries in such cutting-edge areas as bioinformatics, microsystems, and photonics. An additional $10 million in funding will support graduate assistantships, start-up funds for niche research, and specialized laboratory enhancements. The academic world is in fierce competition for talented faculty, and these resources are essential for RIT's continued leadership in technological education.

Building for excellence

Consider this: RIT's campus was built in 1968 for a student body comprising 4,000 students. Today, enrollment exceeds 15,000. After almost 20 years of continual growth, driven by the addition of programs, RIT must ensure that our physical facilities keep pace. To do that, we are investing $70 million in state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories, more comfortable study spaces, and social venues.

 

Construction and renovation will touch each of the university's eight college buildings, specifically: increased space for the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Science, Applied Science and Technology, and the College of Business; further expansion of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering; theater, laboratory, gallery and workspace enhancements for the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf; and completion of the home for the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.

Among the exciting new construction projects supported by The Campaign for RIT is the Gordon Field House and Activities Center. The $25-million, 160,000 square-foot field house will seat more than 8,000 people in a 60,000 square-foot venue that also will be an arena for indoor sports year-round. In addition, the complex will include a new fitness center, eight-lane competition pool, and recreation pool. (see www.rit.edu/magazine/fall2002/fieldhouse/)

“The Field House is something we're really looking forward to,” says Erick Littleford '03, president of student government. “It's going to give us – for the first time – a venue where 8,000 students can come together in one space for big-name concerts and special events. The students are excited about that, and it's really going to do a lot for the campus.”

The name for the facility, which honors long-time friend and trustee Lucius R. “Bob” Gordon, and his wife, Marie, was announced at the groundbreaking in September. A supporter and champion of RIT's mission for more than 60 years, Lucius Gordon became a key contributor to the field house through gifts and commitments totaling $5 million.

This rendering depicts the proposed renovations of the Lowenthal Building, which houses the College of Business. The new building for the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences is expected to open in spring 2003.

The ability to keep up with, even anticipate, emerging technologies makes RIT attractive to both students and faculty. The opportunity for undergraduates, particularly, to work shoulder to shoulder with faculty on breakthrough research is rare among teaching universities but the norm at RIT. Such activities depend on state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment and keep RIT vital to industry. Joseph M. Lobozzo II '95, president of JML Optical Industries Inc. and vice chair of The Campaign for RIT, views RIT's research as an important means of advancing the university's educational mission while furthering Rochester's tradition of excellence in optics. It was this commitment – to RIT, to Rochester, and to industry – that prompted his leadership gift of $1.4 million to seed the First in Class program in photonics.

Another example of support for applied research and learning is the gift of a new Sunday 2000 commercial web press from Heidelberg Digital L.L.C valued at $7 to $10 million. “We are pleased to expand a partnership with RIT that benefits our entire industry,” says Wolfgang Pfizenmaier, president of Heidelberg Digital. In addition to providing educational opportunities for students and industry, RIT conducts extensive applied research on campus for web offset printers and suppliers. The new Heidelberg Web Press Laboratory incorporates state-of-the-art technology within RIT's world-renowned graphic arts program to create the best possible environment for advanced research and training.

Help from our friends

Tuition does not cover the cost of providing a technological education today. To narrow the gap between tuition and real cost, we depend on the support of thousands of generous supporters. The Fund for the Future, with a goal of $30 million in unrestricted monies, will enable the university to direct funds wherever the need is greatest.

At a groundbreaking in September, President Albert Simone (center) announced that RIT's Field House and Activities Center will be named for Lucius R. and Marie Gordon, longtime supporters of the university.

Annual, unrestricted funds directly support current needs and provide the fiscal flexibility critical to maintaining cutting-edge curricula and facilities. At RIT, we pride ourselves on what we call “institutional agility.” What that means is the ability to respond quickly to new student needs. It also means the ability to recognize new opportunities early and to take advantage of them for the benefit of our students.

During The Campaign for RIT, we seek to increase alumni support of students through greater participation in the annual fund. Other important sources of unrestricted funds include bequests and other deferred gifts.

The new century will bring unprecedented change. With the financial investment and personal involvement of the entire RIT family – students, faculty, administrators, alumni, parents, and friends – we will raise the university to the next level of excellence. Join us now in helping RIT to become the preeminent model of a technological university committed to addressing the world's most critical needs.

“The RIT model of education is not only desirable . . . it is critical to the world,” says President Simone. “By securing personal involvement and financial resources from our friends, and remaining focused on the future, RIT will remain the world's leader in delivering career-focused, technology-rich education.”

For more about the campaign, visit the Web at www.campaign.rit.edu.

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