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RIT in 1985

October 27, 2015

As you may know, this past Wednesday (October 21, 2015) was Back to the Future Day – the day in which the film's protagonist Marty McFly traveled from 1985 to 2015 in Back to the Future II. In honor of this, I thought we’d take a look back at where RIT was in 1985. Thanks to RITpedia and the RIT Archive for this timely information.


  • Full-time enrollment in fall 1985 was 10,397 students-a little more than half of today’s enrollment numbers.
  • The Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Interfaith Center was constructed; previously Ingle Auditorium served as the campus chapel. Dedication of the Interfaith Center took place on May 17, 1985 (The RIT Library has more information on all our named campus buildings and roadways.)
  • Men’s Hockey won the Division III championship.
  • Jim Myers, future Associate Provost of International Education and Global Programs, was Student Government President.
  • Nathaniel's, known as Nate's, was a dining facility in the A-level of Nathaniel Rochester Hall, and opened in December of 1985 after New York State raised the drinking age to 21. For 13 years prior, the space where Nathaniel's stood was known as 'The Cellar' and served beer, wine, pizza and subs.
  • The Image Permanence Institute (IPI) was founded. IPI is a research institution located within Frank E. Gannett Hall and is a department of RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
  • The RIT Microelectronic Engineering cleanroom facility (now the Semiconductor & Microsystems Fabrication Facility) was built to support the first ABET accredited undergraduate program in Microelectronic Engineering.

The final connection to Back to the Future is made possible by industrial design Professor Josh Owen, who shared an RIT connection to the popular movie series. RIT industrial design alum Eric Avar helped support the Nike designer responsible for creating the film’s self-lacing sneakers, gifted to Michael J. Fox.

Pictured: An early computer lab in the College of Applied Science and Technology.