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On the table

President’s Roundtable meetings always include the opportunity for members to meet with students, as at this luncheon on campus. From left are sixth-year mechanical engineering B.S./M.S. student Ryan Larcom, roundtable member John Bruning, and MBA student Brian Payne.

The president of the United States seeks input from trusted, knowledgeable advisers before making decisions.

The president of RIT does likewise.

One important source of advice for Albert Simone is the RIT President’s Roundtable. Formed five years ago, this group of up to 20 graduates and friends of RIT meets for one day twice a year to discuss topics of importance to the university.

“The roundtable is a valuable resource,” says Simone. “I have the utmost respect for this group of top-notch individuals. They perform a great service to RIT, and I look forward to the meetings.”

The roundtable meets in the spring and fall several weeks before meetings of the RIT Board of Trustees. Roundtable sessions focus on a strategic topic that the board will be addressing later. RIT senior staff members make presentations and a summary of the roundtable discussion is prepared. Although roundtable members do not vote on any issues and are not asked to perform any official responsibilities, their input is very helpful, says Fred W. Smith, secretary of the institute and assistant to the president.

Meet the members

Currently serving on the President’s Roundtable are:

Peter C. Browne ’64
(business administration), president, Price, Raffel & Browne Inc.
John H. Bruning, president and CEO, Corning Tropel Corp.
Terrance N. Clapham ’71 (electrical engineering), consultant, TNC Graystone LLC
E. John Del Monte, president, E.J. Del Monte Corp.
David Della Penta ’69 (business administration), president and CEO, Fisher Scientific International Inc.
William C. Hard ’74 (industrial engineering), senior vice president, North American Industry Markets, Xerox Corp.
Hani Hakim, chairman and president, Associated Consulting Engineers, Athens, Greece
Robert W. Hurlbut ’84 (hotel and resort management), president, Rohm Services Corp.
Joanne Isham, vice president of strategic development, National Security Solutions Line of Business, Electronics & Integrated Solutions Operating Group, BAE Systems
Timothy M. McGinn ’71 (mechanical engineering), chairman, McGinn & Smith & Associates Inc.
Augustin Melendez, director and vice president, Human Resources, Film & Photofinishing Systems Group, Eastman Kodak Co.
Venkat “Puru” Purushotham ’81 (printing management), ’82 (imaging science), general manager and vice president, digital printing, Graphic Communications Group, Eastman Kodak Co.
Joseph A. Smialowski ’77 (computer systems management), executive vice president, Operations & Technology, Freddie Mac
William H. Turri ’62 (printing management), deputy public printer, COO, U.S. Government Printing Office
Tanya Van Court, vice president and general manager, Broadband & Interactive TV, ESPN Inc.
Elizabeth M. Warren ’80 (business administration), senior corporate
counsel, Blockbuster Inc.
William Wiggenhorn, vice chairman, Global Edutech Management (GEM) Group

Some of the topics discussed at recent meetings include: how should RIT grow, positioning RIT for the future, student retention, branding RIT, global strategy, diversity, student success, faculty scholarship and Ph.D. programs, and entrepreneurship and innovation.

“The group is small enough to get a good dialog going,” says William Wiggenhorn, vice chairman of the GEM Group, a global education company headquartered in China. “Al Simone shares whitepapers that are very thought-provoking.”

Until five years ago, Wiggenhorn was president of Motorola University, which offers technical training and Six Sigma programs to employees and outside organizations worldwide. Wiggenhorn expanded Motorola U. to 101 offices in 24 countries and developed a university and secondary-education relationship team, among other accomplishments. He met Simone more than 15 years ago, when Simone was president of the University of Hawaii.

“Part of my focus on the President’s Roundtable,” Wiggenhorn says, “is looking at RIT’s global presence – what RIT could contribute, what RIT could gain. I was particularly concerned that RIT begin to establish brand awareness in China.”

Wiggenhorn, through GEM, helped bring officials from China to RIT, which has led to discussions of the possibility of RIT offering programs in China.

Smith says this is an excellent example of the contributions of roundtable members.

“The roundtable discussions advise the president,” he says, “and in that way can contribute to strategic planning for RIT. The members are selected for their special expertise; they all have much to offer.