Former Disney executive named RIT’s assistant provost for LA Programs

Alumnus Tom Connor will also hold the Paul and Francena Miller Chair in International Education

RIT alumnus Tom Connor has been appointed assistant provost and the Paul and Francena Miller Chair in International Education. He will also serve as a professor of practice in RIT’s College of Art and Design.

Tom Connor, former vice president of creative marketing at Walt Disney Co., has been appointed assistant provost at Rochester Institute of Technology. In addition to his administrative duties, Connor, an alumnus of RIT’s School of Film and Animation, has also been named the Paul and Francena Miller Chair in International Education and will serve as a professor of practice in RIT’s College of Art and Design. The professor of practice role is a non-tenure track rank that identifies individuals who bring prominence in their fields to the classroom.

In his role as assistant provost, Connor will be charged with enhancing the university’s presence in Los Angeles, with an initial focus on the entertainment industry. He has more than three decades of experience in entertainment and is expected to expand opportunities for students to connect with successful alumni in the area, engage in hands-on learning and research, and have unique work experiences with top-tier entertainment and media companies.

“RIT students, faculty, and staff have always excelled at innovating through the fusion of creativity and technology to make great things happen,” said Connor. “Furthering our presence in Los Angeles will open doors for current students, adding to the impact that many successful RIT alumni are already having at top Hollywood studios, production companies, and leading tech organizations.”

Connor, who has taught entertainment business courses at the university, is a member of RIT’s Entertainment Advisory Board and was one of the keynote speakers at RIT’s Futurists Symposium in 2019. He plans to continue teaching while helping RIT’s colleges develop unique curriculum for LA-based student experiences.

As a top marketing executive at both Disney and Paramount Pictures, Connor led creative campaigns for many iconic television shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Entertainment Tonight, Cheers, Frasier, LIVE with Kelly & RyanWho Wants to be a Millionaire, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Black-ish, and many others. At both Disney and Paramount, he was also involved in the marketing of feature films after they had their run in movie theaters.

In addition to his tenure at the studios, Connor ran his own international design and animation firm, TAG, for more than a decade – helping launch many broadcast and cable television channels in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, India, China, and Southeast Asia. He also worked in the retail sector as senior vice president of programming at Premiere Retail Networks, pioneering in-store media networks for retailers, including Walmart and Best Buy. His work in entertainment has garnered many industry awards including an Emmy, Clio, New York Festival Award, Telly, and Addy, among others.

“Tom’s breadth and depth of experience in the entertainment industry, combined with his close ties to RIT, make him a perfect person to lead the development of an RIT presence in Los Angeles,” said Prabu David, RIT provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “He knows the industry and he knows RIT’s strengths and capabilities, which will enable us to realize our vision of having a sustained presence in Los Angeles that will foster opportunities for RIT students and researchers.”

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