Endowed Positions

Professors ignite passion
in those they teach.

RIT faculty and staff are a rare breed. Unwavering in their commitment to student success at all degree levels, they are focused on real-world impact and passionate about ensuring our students have what they need to make a difference in the world.

In addition to ensuring outstanding teaching, coaching and mentoring, endowed positions can serve specific purposes, depending on the goals of individuals or organizations that establish them. At RIT, endowed positions are established to:

  • Advance a particular area of research and scholarship
  • Study teaching methods for a specific discipline
  • Seek ways to diversify a particular field
  • Create a new degree program or discipline at RIT
  • Work between two or more disciplines to develop multidisciplinary knowledge
  • Provide lasting financial stability and help opening doors to initiatives that are essential to providing opportunities for students to be successful in life

Establishing and supporting an endowed position requires an understanding for what great scholarship can mean to RIT, and is a critical part of our path forward as a nationally recognized university. Endowed positions attract the best and brightest to RIT. The stories below demonstrate the impact some of these positions make on our student body.

For additional information, please email us at givetorit@rit.edu.

Teaching students to challenge assumptions

A woman helping a student in a computer lab.

The Caroline Werner Gannett Endowed Chair is charged with challenging students to interpret modern media and communication in ways that include critical and creative analysis of digital culture and data curation. Design visualization, geospatial technology, electronic literature, and virtual or augmented reality are part of the student experience guided by the Chair. Professor Lisa Hermsen, the current Chair, specializes in the rhetoric of science, technology, and medicine. She is the principal investigator for a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to study “community” from many perspectives, including historical, geographical, literary, environmental, and socioeconomic.


"As students head into the world on internships and jobs, we want them to be prepared to interact with communities that have a very distinct sense of identity and place but are also dealing with myriad economic and cultural changes."

- Lisa Hermsen, Ph.D., Caroline Werner Gannett Endowed Chair

Expanding research to advance innovation

A woman getting her blood pressure checked in a research setting.

With aspirations to be viewed as more than a vision care company, Bausch & Lomb created an endowed professorship in microsystem engineering to advance innovation in medical technology. Dr. David Borkholder BS ’92 is the current professor and an expert in the biology of the inner ear and auditory dysfunction, with a strong focus on therapy-directed microsystems and sensors. He holds several patents related to cell-based biosensors and DNA analysis and is a charter member of the National Institutes of Health Bioengineering of Neuroscience, Vision, and Low Vision Technologies study section.

Most recently, Dr. Borkholder was charged with leading RIT’s signature research initiative in personalized healthcare technology, which seeks to develop mobile and wearable technology to directly monitor patients’ health measures. Borkholder, an RIT alum, professor, mentor, and entrepreneur, is teaching his students the difference between just making gadgets or widgets and making things that improve people’s lives.


"Holding the Bausch & Lomb Endowed Professorship gives me the time and discretionary funds to explore new areas of research. This freedom is essential in aggressively expanding research in my laboratory and also enables RIT to offer highly valuable research experiences to a broader range of graduate and undergraduate students."

- David Borkholder, Ph.D., BS '92, Bausch & Lomb Endowed Professor

Energizing the student experience

A coach talking to hockey players.

The late RIT Trustee Emeritus Bruce B. Bates was a long-time friend and generous benefactor of the university. He established two named scholarships that have collectively supported over 300 students to date. In 2015, Bates created the Women’s Hockey Coach Endowed Fund, which provided the university’s first named endowed coaching position for Tiger athletic programs. His gift serves as his legacy, supporting the salary of the women’s head hockey coach in perpetuity, and providing budget relief for athletics.

"The women’s team deserves this endowment and recognition for their program,” said Bates, who began playing hockey at age 8 and retired from men’s leagues at 58. “These young women are exceptional student-athletes both in the classroom and on the ice. I am a season ticket holder and enjoy their brand of hockey. This feels good to me. It’s the right place to start for an endowed coaching position."

Endowed positions are the highest honor a university can bestow, allowing RIT to compete for student-athletes who are in demand around the country and in the world.


"I would like to thank Mr. Bates for his support and most of all, his generosity for our program and RIT Athletics. This is a monumental step for our program. Not only will this benefit our team, but our entire athletics department. I am honored and humbled that Mr. Bates feels that we have earned this generous gift."

- Scott McDonald, Bruce B. Bates Women’s Hockey Coach first recipient

Demonstrating passion through research

People holding up an award.

The Eugene H. Fram Chair in Applied Critical Thinking was created by an RIT alum to honor his former professor, Gene Fram, who served RIT’s Saunders College of Business from 1957–2008. The Fram Chair is unique in that it is not based in any one college. The Chair supports and increases applied critical thinking across the entire university and seeks to ensure it is a fundamental part of an RIT education.


"The ability to think critically gives us the power to consider fully and make well-rounded decisions for ourselves and for our world, and there is no more important work than that. Critical thinking is, and should be, part of the fabric of RIT. We must continue to lead by example through our teaching and scholarly efforts and by creating opportunities that encourage and support the growth of critical thinking in all we do."

- Jennifer Schneider, Ph.D., Eugene H. Fram Chair in Applied Critical Thinking

Legal Notice: Roger K. Fawcett Distinguished Professorship

In 1991, Rochester Institute of Technology (“RIT”) established a fund (the “Fund”) to support the Roger K. Fawcett Distinguished Professorship in Publication Color Management (“Fawcett Professorship”) as a result of the merger of The Fawcett Education Fund in Publication Production Management and the Magazine Color Imaging Endowed Professorship. The Fawcett Professorship was established in response to the increasing use of color in publications, the desire to assist the publishing industry in solving problems of quality and productivity involving various printing processes, and to promote RIT. However, over the years the relevancy of the publication industry has subsided, requiring modification to the Fund to maintain RIT’s ability to be involved and engaged in solving the problems of the printing industry.

Under New York law, when the original purposes for which funds are donated become wasteful, those purposes can be modified in a manner consistent with original donative intent by the New York State courts. Accordingly, RIT has asked the New York State Supreme Court for the County of Monroe to approve a modification of the purposes of the Fund (a) to remove the requirement that the professorship objectives be limited to the media printing and publishing industry; and (b) that the professorship be renamed to the “Roger K. Fawcett Distinguished Professorship in Print and Packaging Color Management.”

If you have donated to the Fawcett Professorship and would like to be heard regarding this requested modification, you may send a letter to RIT Office of Legal Affairs, 154 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623 or an email to ritlegal@rit.edu. Copies of letters or email received by RIT will be provided to the Court.  You may also make a formal filing in the legal proceeding entitled In the Matter of the Modification of Endowment Funds of Rochester Institute of Technology, Pursuant to New York Not-For-Profit Corporation Law § 555, Monroe County Index No. E2024007520. To have it be available for the Court’s consideration, please be sure to send any letter or email, or make any filing, no later than June 5, 2024.