Flipping the narrative with research and discovery

A. Sue Weisler

RIT President David Munson congratulated the Class of 2022 during convocation last May.

War, climate change, social unrest, economic woes—it is stressful keeping up with the flow of global news these days.

We can be consumed by the dark headlines. Or, we can flip the narrative by eagerly working on solutions. The world needs collaborative thinkers who can identify and solve the most pressing and vexing global problems of our times.

RIT faculty and students are involved in applied research and discovery taking place in a range of areas in each of our colleges and institutes. They are looking at problems in electronic waste, cyber-security, microchip supply, artificial intelligence, accessibility, health care, public policy, and more. We even have faculty observing the expanses of the universe with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

Embracing challenges brings out the best in RIT. The university is coming off a record year in sponsored research awards, attaining $92 million, which surpasses our previous high of $82 million. Key research areas include all of those mentioned above plus nanotechnology, imaging science, and the life sciences.

Many of these research awards were funded by national agencies such as the National Science Foundation ($13.5 million), the Department of Defense ($8.6 million), National Institutes of Health ($6.7 million), and both NASA and the Department of Energy ($2.5 million each).

We also set a new record for the value of proposals submitted this past year at $265 million. This is another sure sign that we continue to mature as a research university and is a testament to our growth and trajectory.

RIT’s priority to build doctoral research programs is integral to the university’s future. These programs attract top-tier faculty, who generate research funding and support teams of graduate student researchers, who create and innovate.

Today, RIT enrolls more than 300 Ph.D. students in 11 Ph.D. programs. And we will be adding three more doctoral programs shortly:

  • Saunders College of Business will offer a Ph.D. in business administration, marking the university’s inaugural doctoral program outside of the STEM disciplines.
  • The College of Liberal Arts will introduce a doctoral degree in cognitive science, housed in the Department of Psychology. This is a joint program with four other colleges at RIT.
  • A Ph.D. in physics in the College of Science will be next as we continue to build our portfolio.

The growth in research has helped fuel “Transforming RIT: The Campaign for Greatness.” The $1 billion blended campaign is seeking support from a variety of investors, including alumni and friends, government and corporate partners, and research foundations and agencies. This summer, we surpassed a major milestone when the campaign exceeded $900 million. We now are in the homestretch.

There is more work to be done, but we are helping transform the world by transforming RIT.

Optimistically yours,

David C. Munson Jr., President

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