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A place of learning

March 23, 2017

At the core of our mission, RIT is about teaching, learning, and the discovery of new knowledge. Of course, students, faculty and staff make all this work. But increasingly so, space and technology are part of the elixir that makes teaching and new ideas flow. So when space, technology, faculty, students come together just right, learning magic occurs. 

Representing all of the campus in this magic is the university library. It is a place where students, faculty and staff come to reap the rich knowledge embedded in the information resources, benefit from the exchange of ideas of one another, and just think. The university library represents the nexus of intellectual behavior on a campus. 

At RIT, over 5,000 students visit the Wallace Center on a given day. Few buildings on campus boast more activity. They come for the information resources, the opportunity to collaborate, and to study. Faculty come to the Wallace Center to learn what other scholars have discovered, to enhance student learning, and to collaborate. It is a place of learning. 

The Wallace Center has not been substantially renovated in over 30 years and it certainly has not been expanded to meet the additional enrollments RIT has enjoyed. Walk into the Wallace Center on a weekday and you will find it difficult to find a place to sit. There are students everywhere - studying, collaborating, and learning. No doubt there are students who want to study and meet in the library but cannot find a place to do so and they go elsewhere. 

The Wallace Center needs to represent the intellectual home of the RIT that we have become. We need to renovate, expand and make it the shining city on the hill for RIT. 

At the same time, the RIT strategic plan implicitly calls for enrollment growth and that means new classrooms. And as an institute of technology, it just makes sense to think about new classrooms that support active learning and technology that enables interactive learning. 

This is why I am pleased to be chairing a taskforce that will identify the case for a new complex - a complex that expands and renovates the Wallace Center and adds new space that supports active learning and new learning innovations. The taskforce, which is also co-chaired by Lynn Wild and Neil Hair, is charged to identify the transformational characteristics we want to see in this new structure. The charge to the taskforce is available on the Academic Affairs website. We expect that the structure will expand to the east of the current Wallace Center and will include space that will accommodate our anticipated student numbers as well as new classrooms that embrace the proven pedagogies of active learning. For the purposes of this exercise, we are identifying the structure as the Wallace Center and Innovative Learning Complex. 

It takes a village to identify the needs and think boldly about the future of our library and learning at RIT. The taskforce is comprised with members from across the university:

Jeremy Haefner, Provost; chair
Lynn Wild, The Wallace Center; co-chair
Neil Hair, Innovative Learning Institute; co-chair
Nana-Yaw Andoh, GIS                       
Bruce Austin, RIT Press                              
Anita Balaji, student                                      
Amar Bhatt, Student Government
Nicole Boulais, Student Affairs
Jon Budington, President’s Roundtable
Chris Collison, Academic Senate              
Steven Galbraith, Cary Graphics Arts Collection
Rob Garrick, faculty, CAST                          
Joe Geigel, faculty, GCCIS   
Mary Golden, faculty, CIAS                          
Tom Hanney, faculty, SOIS                          
John Moore, Facility Management Services
James Myers, Global Programs and International Education     
Joe Loffredo, Office of the Registrar           
Kelly Norris Martin, faculty, COLA                  
Todd Pagano, faculty, NTID                              
Sarah Passarelli, student                                    
Rachel Peden, student                       
Susan Provenzano, Academic Affairs          
Risa Robinson, faculty, KGCOE
Aditi Saini, Graduate student                              
Andrea Shaver, Student Government
Carla Stebbins, CHST
Marcia  Trauernicht, RIT Libraries
John Trierweiler, Division of Marketing 
Judy von Bucher, Board of Trustees          
John Ward, faculty, SCB                      
Jamie Winebrake, COLA

I am certain that this group of great thinkers will gather input across campus and identify the exciting characteristics and features of an intellectual nexus - a place of learning - for which RIT can be proud. Stay tuned for more information as it develops.