History of RIT Presidents

Carleton Gibson (1910-1916) Carleton Gibson was chosen as the first president of the Mechanics Institute in 1910. He placed emphasis on industrial education and did not propose any immediate or drastic changes to the institute upon his arrival. By 1912, however, he had managed to have the institute adopt a policy of allowing students to work half their time of study in industry and spend half their time attending classes. This method of study would later be referred to as a "co-op."

James Barker (1916-1919) James Barker was asked to be the Mechanics Institute's second president in 1916. He was an engineering graduate from Cornell University and believed in emphasizing technical training. Barker's main interest was the promotion of secondary education. He remained in the position until 1919, when he resigned in order to take a position with the Rochester City School System.

Royal Farnum (1919-1921) Royal Farnum assumed the presidency of the institute in 1919. Between 1919 and 1921 more students enrolled at the institute than ever before. This was primarily due to the school's appeal as an intermediary place of instruction between high school and college-level education. Fundraising efforts carried out during his term allowed the school to remain financially stable.

John Randall (1922-1936) The institute waited for a period of nine months before appointing John Randall as Farnum's successor. Randall was invited to be president in 1922. He had served as the undersecretary to the secretary of war for the United States. He had taught at Pratt Institute, where he was head of the physics department, and at Cheltenham Military School in Pennsylvania. Randall and Carl Lomb engaged in a series of conferences that would benefit the institute's future. It was eventually decided that the role of the institute was to provide short, intensive courses and not to award degrees.

Mark Ellingson (1936-1969) Mark Ellingson's career at the institute began as a teacher. During his term as president, the institute was able to increase the endowment from $1.5 million in 1937 to $20.8 million three years later. An important merger between the Empire School of Printing and the Mechanics Institute took place in 1937. In 1944, the Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute was renamed Rochester Institute of Technology. During Ellingson's presidency, RIT revised its decision regarding awarding degrees. Under Ellingson's direction, the university began planning for the Henrietta campus in 1961.

Paul Miller (1969-1979) When Paul Miller began his term in 1969, the campus had just moved to Henrietta. Miller introduced a budgeting procedure to RIT that focused on simply not spending more money than the university had available and allocating funds as they were deemed necessary. Enrollment increased at a steady pace from 1969 to 1981 due to the increasing likelihood of college-level studies leading to a professional job.

M. Richard Rose (1979-1992) M. Richard Rose assumed the presidency in 1979. Miller and Rose shared the belief that students in a technical school should be exposed to more art, literature, philosophy and culture. Partially out of this interest, and partially due to financial difficulties, Eisenhower College became a part of RIT. The university had made attempts to increase the liberal arts and humanities curriculum. Rose helped launch RIT's first Ph.D. program, in imaging science, in 1988.

Albert Simone (1992-2007) Albert Simone was inaugurated president in 1992. Under his direction, partnerships with business, industry and other professions have led to RIT's continued success. Simone helped launch Ph.D. programs in microsystems engineering (2002), computing and information sciences (2005) and color science (2007). He also spearheaded the addition of the Gordon Field House and Activities Center and approved RIT's move to Division I men's hockey.

William W. Destler (2007-present) William W. Destler became RIT’s 9th president on July 1. He was formerly senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of the University of Maryland at College Park. He has a vision to take RIT to the next level by transforming it into the nation’s first “Innovation University.”

 

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