Progress on track despite pandemic, Munson says
Student success, research, fundraising, and construction projects all advance
A. Sue Weisler
Rochester Institute of Technology’s students, faculty, and staff are starting a new academic year during a continuing global pandemic.
But that’s not stopping the momentum of student enrollment and success, research, fundraising, and building projects designed to make RIT even better.
A. Sue Weisler
Munson began by thanking RIT staff and faculty for their work during the pandemic since March 2020, by keeping campus safe and for their flexibility and creativity in their instruction and research. And he thanked the student body for following the rules and persevering during the health crisis.
“You have my deepest appreciation and gratitude for all that RIT has accomplished,” he said.
Munson said RIT is at a better place than last year, with more than 95 percent of students and 92 percent of faculty and staff fully vaccinated.
“RIT has proved to be one of the safest campuses in the nation throughout the pandemic, and we believe we can continue this trend. We are looking forward to what we believe will be a much more vibrant campus this fall. In fact, it already is!”
He reflected on some of the many successes of RIT’s students and employees this past year:
- More than $75 million in sponsored research was awarded.
- Three Ph.D. programs within Kate Gleason College of Engineering were added; more are in the pipeline for approval.
- Four students were Fulbright finalists.
- In a cybersecurity competition, RIT placed first at the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition international finals.
- The RIT Baja team finished first in a competition in Arizona.
- Two RIT games won awards at the 2021 Game Developers Conference.
- The men’s lacrosse team won its first NCAA title.
- And RIT has been named a Peace Corps Prep university, to help guide students into global service. Details will be announced next week.
Munson said RIT’s global campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo are thriving, and another successful, productive year is expected for RIT.
For the second consecutive year, RIT is welcoming a record number of first-year undergraduate students, with 3,271 new students this year.
And the Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity will help advance RIT to becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive university. “While we have a significant amount of work ahead of us to realize the plan, the university will be a better place because of it,” he said.
Munson said RIT’s Campaign for Greatness, a $1 billion blended campaign from corporations, government, and private donations, now stands at $807 million raised.
“The finish line is nearing, yet there’s more to accomplish,” he said. “We’re continuing to raise money for student scholarships, we’re elevating our research to even greater heights, and we are focused on attracting and retaining the best and brightest faculty.”
The pandemic also hasn’t stopped RIT from looking ahead and building the future. Construction projects recently completed, underway, or planned include:
- RIT’s Global Cybersecurity Institute opened its doors last year. The state-of-the-art center is meeting the demand for computing security professionals, while developing future technologies and human understanding needed to address the global cybersecurity crisis. A formal dedication is planned Oct. 15 during Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend.
- The Student Hall for Exploration and Development (The SHED), RIT’s new maker space and educational complex at the center of campus, has entered a new phase this summer. It will include huge makerspaces, classrooms, a black-box theater, dance studio, and music rehearsal rooms, and is on track to open in fall 2023. The project also includes a major renovation of the entire Wallace Library.
- A new performing arts center is in the design phase. It will feature a 750-seat theater and eventually a 1,500-seat orchestra hall for larger audiences. The new facilities are an essential part of RIT’s plan to develop the leading performing arts program in the nation for non-majors. Construction on the first phase is scheduled to commence in spring of 2022 with a completion date of fall 2023.
- On Aug. 31, Saunders College of Business will host a ceremonial ground breaking on a major expansion, which will nearly double its size. The project was made possible by donations from many Saunders College alumni and friends, including significant gifts from alumni Chance Wright and Susan Holliday as well as a transformational gift from serial entrepreneur and philanthropist E. Philip Saunders.
- Renovation of RIT’s College of Art and Design moved at a brisk pace during the summer months, with a key focus inside Gannett Hall. The project is part of a five-year masterplan that has already begun to renovate, rejuvenate, and transform spaces to meet the growing demands for a college that serves as a creative hub at the intersection of technology, art, and design.
- Upgraded athletic facilities, in several phases, also began this summer. The first phase of the department’s multimillion dollar stadium project is the relocation of the outdoor track across the road from its current location in front of Gordon Field House. New baseball and softball fields are also under construction with upgrades to all-weather artificial turf fields, which will be ready for play in spring 2022.
- And overseas, construction of the first phase of RIT Dubai’s new $136 million campus is complete. The new campus will be able to accommodate up to 4,000 students.
Remarks were given from RIT Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Granberg, Staff Council Chair Gina Reeder, Faculty Senate Chair Clyde Hull, Student Government President Lucas Randrianarivelo, and Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Keith Jenkins.
Munson concluded by thanking everyone “for doing your part to move this great university forward. I am honored and humbled to be working with such an exceptional group of talented faculty, staff, and students. This is an extraordinary time for RIT, and with our amazing community of creators and innovators, we are definitely on to something amazing.”