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Family matters at RIT

Rick and Tony Eckel
Rick Eckel, right, came to campus in 1989 when his dad, Richard A. "Tony" Eckle, graduated.

“Legacy” has a special meaning at RIT.

It refers to students who are children – or grandchildren – of RIT graduates.

Among legacy families, Lynn Hudson ’77 (electrical engineering) and his wife, Darla, stand out. Three of their four sons have come to RIT: Derrick graduated in 2003 with a B.S. in software engineering; Craig, in the B.S./M.S. program in mechanical engineering, expects to graduate next May; and Keith is a first-year student majoring in packaging science.

Darla, a graduate of State University of New York at Geneseo, has another special tie to RIT. Her brother, RIT grad Robert Monroe Jr. ’77 (electrical engineering), introduced her to her husband.

Lynn Hudson, an engineer at Kodak, says he’s pleased to send his sons to his alma mater. “Technology is always changing, so you constantly have to be learning new things. At RIT, you learn how to learn. That’s very important.”

Lynn, Darla and Keith Hudson
First-year packaging science major, Keith Hudson, right, is the third of Lynn and Darla Hudson's sons to attend RIT.

Keith says RIT was a natural choice for a variety of reasons. “It’s one of the few schools that offer packaging science, plus it’s close to home and familiar,” said Keith, a graduate of Athena High School in the Rochester suburb of Greece.

At the annual Legacy Dinner organized by the Office of Alumni Relations during orientation week, Keith Hudson discovered that several of his Athena classmates are also children of RIT grads. One is Michael Michniewicz, whose mom, Betsy Michniewicz ’96 (accounting) finished her degree while working at Kodak and raising her children.

Michael is a first-year film and animation major. “There’s a bunch of colleges out there that have this, but RIT has the best program. Plus I think there will be good job opportunities after graduation.”

For first-year information technology student Mark Ashworth, the RIT tie goes back two generations. His great-grandparents, Dorothy E. Cooney ’19 (home economics) and Frank R. Dunn ’18 (mechanical engineering) both graduated from RIT’s predecessor, Mechanics Insitute. Mark’s grandfather, Jerry Dunn of Rochester, brought his parents’ yearbook to the Legacy Dinner he attended with Mark and his mom, Elaine Ashworth.
Mark chose RIT because of its reputation as a leader in information technology. “I’d heard nothing but great things about it.”

Rick Eckel, a first-year undeclared engineering major, has already made a trip across the stage at RIT commencement. His father, Richard A. “Tony” Eckel ’89 (electrical engineering), carried his son when he received his diploma. The moment was captured by an RIT photographer, and the photo showed up on the cover of the fall 1991 schedule of evening and Saturday classes.

Tony Eckel, president of Systems Synergy Inc., an independent software consulting firm, came to RIT after eight years in the U.S. Navy.

“I’m not surprised Rick chose RIT,” says his dad, noting that his son has a strong interest in technology, particularly computers. “It’s a good school, exactly what he needs.”

A few weeks into the school year, Rick was feeling happy about his choice as well. “Teachers are great, friends are great.”

Kelly Redder, executive director, Office of Alumni Relations, came up with the idea of the Legacy Dinner several years ago as a way of celebrating this special group.

“Legacies are very important to us,” says Redder. “It means that our alumni are entrusting us with something very precious: their children. Legacy students represent a vote of confidence in RIT, and also a responsibility on our part to do whatever we can to fulfill their expectations.”