Spring Issue, 2014

Office of the President

Dear friends,

You can be as proud of the talent, creativity, and dedication of all members of the RIT community as I am. In my seven years as your president, I have learned so much about the truly distinct programs and unique opportunities afforded to our students. My only regret so far is that—while we have made progress—more people still do not know just how fantastic RIT truly is. So, my commitment to you is that I will do my part to increase my communication with alumni, friends, corporate partners, and the general public about all that RIT has to offer. I hope to increase the level of dialogue with you in seeking your advice, involvement, and support. I need YOU to help lead this university to unprecedented levels of success.

RIT continues to grow and evolve in rapid fashion, with exciting new endeavors and increasing support from around the country. Here are a few highlights:

Applications to RIT from prospective students now exceed 30,000 per year, and overall enrollment has grown to 18,300 undergraduate and graduate students on four campuses (Rochester, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo) plus the Dominican Republic.
After three years of hard work, RIT has made the transition from a quarter-based calendar to a semester system. Every academic program has been updated and redesigned to make optimal use of the new calendar and to ensure that the academic rigor of an RIT education remains unchanged.

This transition has included valuable lessons, most notably that the intersession concept is a very viable opportunity. We will be working closely with faculty in the coming months to build on the intersession offerings, and especially study abroad opportunities for the 3-week period next January.
Destination Intersession

We believe that intersession study abroad is a cost-effective way for students to participate in global experiential learning that may include project work, seminars and workshops, and short-term research opportunities.

A way for you to assist with this is to help increase our co-op abroad opportunities. If your company has overseas facilities, please consider making arrangements to hire RIT students by contacting Maria Richart, associate director for International Outreach, at

There is also a great need for financial support to students interested in study abroad or co-op abroad. International travel and living expenses can add up to $3,000 to a student’s tuition, and those expenses cannot be paid through loans or scholarship dollars. You can sponsor a student for a semester abroad through a gift to RIT’s Office of Study Abroad. Contact Linda Miller, director of Leadership Giving, at to support international education.
Our newly formed College of Health Sciences and Technology recently received a $6,000,000 gift from the Wegman Family Foundation to establish the Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition. This new school will educate health and wellness professionals to help individuals, communities, and corporations adopt healthier lifestyles and reduce medical care costs.

CHST Clinic

In April, we will break ground on a new extension of Louise Slaughter Hall that will serve as the new home to the Wegmans School. The facility will also house clinical facilities for the College and a walk-in clinic operated by our alliance partner, Rochester General Health System. We are grateful to the Wegman Family Foundation for its very generous gift.
On January 21, we gave a warm RIT welcome to Senator Charles Schumer, who joined us to celebrate the news that the National Technical Institute for the Deaf received more than $66 million in the 2014 appropriations bill recently passed — a $4.3 million increase over the sequestration level funding under which the college has been operating. In fact, NTID was the largest recipient of funding in western New York. Ongoing federal budget cuts and last year’s sequestration resulted in almost $3.5 million being cut from NTID’s federal budget support since 2013. This year’s bill restored the funding that was cut. This is great news, and congratulations are due to Gerry Buckley ’78, vice president and dean of NTID, and his leadership team on securing this level of support to keep NTID affordable for as many students as possible; provide state-of-the-art equipment in the classrooms and labs; and support the student innovation and research activities in Rosica Hall which opened this fall.

Rosica Hall
We just celebrated our final hockey season in beloved Ritter Arena, and are preparing for dedication of the Gene Polisseni Center in time for the opening game of the 2014-15 season. The new arena will have double the capacity of Ritter, enabling many more students and area fans to enjoy our men’s and women’s Division I hockey. You can check our construction progress here.

There’s still time for you to make your mark on the new arena by purchasing a named seat. Your seat will be in place for the opening game next fall. Visit to support the Tiger Power Play campaign.
After an extensive national search, Dr. Sandra Johnson, vice president for Student Affairs at Hofstra University, has been named RIT’s senior vice president for Student Affairs. Dr. Johnson will join RIT this summer and brings a wealth of leadership experience and a strong student-focused perspective to this position. We are confident that she will continue to build student satisfaction throughout the total RIT experience.
This year our first class of RIT/Rochester City Scholars will celebrate graduation. The RIT/RCSD Scholars program was initiated five years ago to provide a path to a college education for low-income students from the Rochester City School District. As a result of the students’ hard work and support from the Multicultural Center for Academic Success, their success rate is comparable to that of other RIT undergraduates.
Be sure to follow our men’s lacrosse team this spring. Under the direction of Coach Jake Coon, the team finished No.2 in the nation last year and was selected as the Liberty League favorite in the 2014 preseason coaches’ poll. The Tigers have a strong nucleus of returning players to make another run at the championship.
Lacrosse Team
RIT and the Saunders College of Business have launched the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship (CUE), an incubator and entrepreneurship mentoring center in the heart of downtown Rochester. CUE will provide resources, consulting, and training to aspiring entrepreneurs from the city of Rochester, especially serving underrepresented groups.
CUE Building

The goal is to help individuals launch their great ideas into viable businesses, while revitalizing the city’s and the region’s economic base through sustainable business growth. CUE will be housed in the historic Rochester Savings Bank building, a gift to RIT from Amy and Robert Tait at Rochester Historic Ventures.
And lastly, a cross-university team is moving forward with the 2015-2025 Strategic Plan. Community engagement is at the heart of this effort, and we will be communicating with our alumni, donors, parents, corporate partners, and friends over the next few months to involve you in the process. We seek your input on the vision, mission, and strategic dimensions identified by the planning committee, so please stay up-to-date on our progress so you may be included in this discussion. Please visit for information and progress. As part of this process, I will be hosting gatherings of alumni and friends of RIT around the country over the next few months, and I hope that you will join me when I am in your area to provide your input on how we can best move RIT forward.

Remember to join us on campus for the seventh annual Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival on Saturday, May 3. Thank you for your steadfast support of RIT, and GO TIGERS!

William W. Destler, Ph.D.

Office of the President • 2 Lomb Memorial Dr., Rochester, NY, 14623 • 585.475.2396 •

Rochester Institute of Technology