NRS e-News - May 2017

Q&A with RIT Leaders – William W. Destler, President of Rochester Institute of Technology

Our final leadership Q&A is with Bill Destler. After 10 years leading RIT to a new level of national renown, President Destler will retire on June 30, 2017. We are grateful for his commitment to our students, and his tireless efforts in making RIT’s greatness shine.

Here, President Destler shares his views on RIT donors and their importance to the future of the university.



Shantinique Cowans
Tyrone ’96 and Tanesha ’00 Magby

“We are forever grateful to RIT. We owe so much of the life we have today to the university, and we believe that supporting RIT allows us to build something that will last well beyond our lives.”

When we say we owe a lot of our life to RIT, it starts with having met on campus. Tyrone had just started working at Xerox, and Tanesha was a sophomore. Tyrone didn’t want to be “one of those” graduates who still hangs around the dorms. So he was making his last walk-through at Unity House when he saw Tanesha with a group of friends. He struck up a conversation and learned she was in the National Society of Black Engineers. Then, coincidentally, of course, he showed up at the next NSBE meeting, and ran into Tanesha again. The rest is history…

We both know that our educations and the real-world experience we received have made a huge difference in our careers. The co-op and internship positions made available through RIT made entry into work life so much easier, and set us on a great path for career success.

As students, we knew how important it was to have people give to RIT. Tanesha was a first-generation college student. When she got her acceptance letter and the aid package that was offered, her mom’s heart sank because she knew they still couldn’t afford the cost. But they met with the staff in the Financial Aid Office, and they started pulling resources together from everywhere! They found a way to fill the gap in her school finances.

Without the additional financial support from scholarships and other grants, neither of us would have been able to stay at RIT.

Today, we’re blessed to be able to give back to RIT. We made gifts to the annual fund for some time, and then Marcus Parker '98, '02, Tyrone’s fraternity brother from ΑΦΑ ΜΣ, called about starting a scholarship for students who reflected the fraternity's leadership ideals. Tyrone made a few recommendations on how they could generate more with competition within their fraternity and was the first to give at their highest giving level. Tyrone and Marcus gathered a group of their brothers together to not only create the scholarship, but to endow it so that it will support a student as long as RIT exists.

We continue to support that scholarship, and see our giving as a way to stay connected to the university that meant so much to us. We’re now part of something that is everlasting, and that helps individuals in need. What could be better?

Amy Johnson and Glen Dragon
Catherine Kaucic ’17

Major: Marketing, Saunders College of Business
Hometown: Niskayuna, NY

I have been incredibly blessed to be able to achieve a goal that many students set out to achieve when they decide to attend college. With the help of friends, family, a strong work ethic, and the incredible generosity of the Nathaniel Rochester Society donors, I can confidently say that I am graduating college without any debt.

This wasn't my plan. When I first started school, I was prepared to take on loans by my third year of college, continue to work part-time at two separate jobs, and attempt to graduate early in order to save money. After nearly completing my freshman year of school, a scholarship opportunity opened up and asked students to share why their experience meant so much to them at RIT. The past four years, I have been able to write about challenging myself to take more difficult classes, becoming an expert in a field I love so much, and leading a team of students to Washington D.C. to present to the U.S. Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.

I truly believe that I have taken every opportunity RIT has to offer and it would not have been possible without the support of the Nathaniel Rochester Society donors. I now get to start the next chapter of my life with a clean slate and a new beginning and that is one of the greatest gifts a student can receive.