Dr. William W. Destler became president of Rochester Institute of Technology in 2007. He is the ninth president in the university’s 185-year history. He was previously senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of the University of Maryland at College Park.
At RIT, Dr. Destler is responsible for one of the nation’s leading career-oriented universities. RIT’s family includes 18,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries; 112,000 alumni across the globe; and 3,400 faculty and staff.
RIT's full-time undergraduate enrollment now ranks RIT among the dozen largest private universities in the United States. RIT is the third largest producer of undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math among all private universities in the U.S. The university has an annual operating budget of $694 million, and an endowment of nearly $669 million. RIT also has one of the oldest and largest cooperative education programs in the country.
Under President Destler’s watch, RIT has been recognized as a leader in green initiatives (cited by the Sierra Club as one of America’s 100 Greenest Universities), recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For”, and become a hub of innovation and creativity. Visit RIT rankings and recognition for more information.
Dr. Destler serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He is a also a board member for the following: The Association of Independent Technological Universities, the American Council on Education’s Commission on Effective Leadership, the National Institute of Aerospace Foundation, and New York’s Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. He serves on the steering committee for the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Dr. Destler serves on community boards in Rochester as well: Rochester General Health System, Greater Rochester Enterprise, Rochester Business Alliance, Golisano Family Foundation, High Tech of Rochester and Torvec Inc.
Prior to RIT, Dr. Destler spent more than 30 years at the University of Maryland, rising from the ranks of research associate and assistant professor of electrical engineering to senior vice president and provost. At Maryland, he also served as electrical engineering department chair, dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, interim vice president for university advancement, vice president for research, and dean of the graduate school.
Dr. Destler is an international authority on high-power microwave sources and advanced accelerator concepts. He is best known for his pioneering work in the collective acceleration of heavy ions, achieving the highest energies to date by this method, and for his development of large orbit microwave devices, including large orbit gyrotrons and rotating beam free electron lasers. He has consulted for government agencies and private firms, received more than $40 million in grants and contracts, published more than 200 journal articles and book chapters, and presented many papers. Dr. Destler has also directed 18 master’s and doctoral student theses and earned awards for his teaching.
Dr. Destler earned a bachelor’s degree from Stevens Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. Both degrees were in the field of applied physics.
Dr. Destler comes from a family of “humanists”—including his wife, Rebecca L. Johnson, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology, and his father, who was a historian, along with other family members who pursued math and the humanities. The couple has two grown sons.
Dr. Destler is also one of the world’s foremost collectors of antique banjos. He has a Web site showcasing his hobby at www.billsbanjos.com. Bill and Rebecca also share an interest in biking, and alternative-powered vehicles and scooters.