Even though the future seems far away, it is actually beginning right now.
I can envision the provost in 2025 standing up at her desk surrounded by the current transparent touch-screen video displays, as
she reviews data that provide the latest glimpse into how the university is providing the nation's leading experiential educational opportunity.
Wishing to see how the graduates from 2025 are faring, she accesses the Student Learning Portfolio (SLP) database that was installed in 2019 and gradually replaced the out-of-date transcripts system. The new SLP system allows the institution to aggregate all kinds of student learning into one place and from there, the provost can see the student work, assignments, courses, competencies, competitions, work assignments, etc. And she can see how faculty and staff assessed this work, providing skills based summaries of how the student performed. But most importantly, the SLP allows students to reflect on their work, drawing connections between the various courses, questioning assumptions, understanding cultural differences and so on.
For example, our provost in 2025 might pull up the SLP for Isabella S., a first-generation student from California, which now is the largest source of RIT students. Her education was made possible by generous funding from RIT donors enabling her to graduate debt-free. Here's what Isabella's SLP says:
- She had an on-time graduation in 2025 with very little deviation from the original Individualized Educational Plan developed by her advisor back in 2020; she was part of the first RIT class of the largest STEM graduates for a private university.
- She majored in bio-robotics, a joint program offered by the College of Science and the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, with a minor in ethical design, and her co-curricular concentration was in leadership. (By the way, of the normal required 120 credit hours for her degree, Isabella received 31 credits based on her competencies she achieved while in the workforce.)
- Her SLP is rich in evidence that she mastered RIT's learning outcomes. Her reflections indicate that her favorite classes were those that were team-taught by faculty from across campus (and she had many to choose from). She liked when they disagreed, professionally, and when they exposed the class to the sparks that happen when two disciplines are mixed together.
- Her leadership skills, competencies, and concentration were developed as a student athlete (third in state for backstroke), during her international co-ops, as leader of the robotics team, and Kate Gleason representative to Student Government.
- Isabella used her critical thinking reflections to draw connections between her life growing up in California and what she sees as her future career.
- The final competency assessment (contributed by a committee of faculty and staff) indicates she excels in leading teams, critical analysis, and engineering design.
- For her personal brand (a required feature in all SLP), she identified herself as a maker, doer, and creator.
- She spent much of her time between the robotics maker space, the app lab, and bio kitchen. She's been recognized for her collaboration skills and her ability to solve interface problems.
- She worked part-time as a student entrepreneur ambassador, helping other students with their start-up companies.
- Isabella was part of the winning team in the "moral reasoning in these start-up times" competition.
- She completed a co-op in a local bio-technology firm in Rochester, one of the many new student start-ups that are a result of a new partnership between UR and RIT.
- Her team of fellow engineers, designers, coders, and scientists successfully launched ‘SAL’ - a bio-robotics company in the health field; one of 51 student-run companies launched at RIT in 2025.
- During her required free-agent semester she immersed herself in Chinese technology design at the RIT campus in Shenzhen, China. (RIT approved a curricular change in 2018 enabling all RIT students to have a 'free-agent' semester to take courses anywhere and in any discipline without loss of progress to their degree.
Where is she now?
She is currently at RIT in the Access Technology Ph.D. program (RIT's 13th Ph.D. program) and she plans to have a minor concentration in applied neuroscience. By the way, she is part of the first class of graduate students at RIT which surpassed 30% of the total RIT student population.
Looking at the RIT strategic plan for 2025, I can imagine a collection of various graduates of our future. Do I think Isabella is a possible RIT graduate in 2025? Absolutely. In fact, I can't imagine us not graduating a bunch of Isabellas. What an exciting future we have before us.