Candidates meet RIT community

William Destler (left) and James Watters

Two candidates to become RIT’s ninth president met with the university community this past week. The Board of Trustees expects to name a new president in March. The finalists for the position are William Destler, who is currently senior vice president, academic affairs, and provost at the University of Maryland – College Park, and James Watters, RIT’s senior vice president for finance and administration and RIT treasurer. Each candidate met with students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees in individual forums on campus. The Presidential Search Committee considered a large, diverse number of individuals for the position, narrowing the candidate pool and interviewing prospects, says Donald Boyce, trustee and chair of the committee. “We are very impressed with the caliber of the candidates the members of the Search Committee selected to bring to campus,” says Boyce. “Each of them possesses the vision, drive, experience, personal presence and integrity that would make him an outstanding president at RIT.” Destler earned his bachelor’s degree at Stevens Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. at Cornell University. He joined the faculty at University of Maryland – College Park, where he became a professor of electrical engineering. He later became dean of engineering, interim vice president of university advancement, vice president for research, and dean of the graduate school before assuming his current position as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. Destler is a member of a number of professional societies, has participated in numerous conferences and seminars, and has had a number of books, journals articles and papers published. Watters received his bachelor’s degree and his Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh. At the University of Pittsburgh, Watters held positions where he was responsible for budgets, safety, real estate management, planning, debt issuance, student housing and other financial and administrative areas. Watters joined RIT in 1994 as director of university budgets. He has served as senior vice president for finance and administration and treasurer since 1997. He has taught courses as an adjunct instructor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as well as in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology and the E. Philip Saunders College of Business. He has served in a number of community service posts in the Rochester area and has been involved in such endeavors as university diversity champion, executive producer of the RIT SportsZone television program and officer of RIT-related entities. A questionnaire is now available on the Web at to receive feedback from the RIT community. Boyce says the Search Committee will consider the feedback and then give its recommendations to the Board of Trustees, which will make the final decision as to who will succeed Albert Simone as the next president of RIT.