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spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer May 18, 2007

Defining success—one experience at a time

by Albert Simone


Simone is president of RIT. He will retire June 30 after 15 years of service.

During new student orientation each year, I tell the beginning freshmen and their parents that the students are “RIT alumni in training.” I say that “student success” is RIT’s purpose, and that this success is what motivates and guides RIT faculty, staff, administration and trustees.

What is “student success?” It is students graduating from RIT. More than that, it is students being happy with and enthusiastic about their total experience at RIT.

In particular, it is students gaining in-depth knowledge in their major field and broad knowledge of the world around them. It is students learning how to learn over a lifetime. It is students developing their leadership, teaming, communication and socialization skills from the vast array of extracurricular programs in which they can actively participate. It is students forming bonds with classmates that will last a lifetime. It is students fully prepared for and confident about the profession and local, national and global communities they will be entering.

Interestingly, student success is students who feel wistful nostalgia about leaving RIT. It is parents who are satisfied and pleased that their sons and daughters chose RIT. It is RIT faculty, staff, administration and trustees who take great pride in the graduating class.

Student success is all of the above, all at the same time.

Since student success is what RIT is all about, it should come as no surprise that graduation ceremonies and celebrations are the high point of the year for me. I have my own nostalgia as I think back on my years as an undergraduate student at Tufts University.

Those were the most influential years of my life. The cocky kid on the outside, who was scared on the inside, over the four years became quietly and respectfully self-confi-dent on both the outside and the inside–like many RIT students graduating this year. Doing my fraternity brother a favor by going on a blind date (I had wheels that night, and he did not), I met my wife-to-be (Carolie), and we have been constant playmates for just over 50 years–and this will be the case for many RIT students graduating this year.

A couple of weeks ago, we honored an RIT alumnus who graduated almost 40 years ago by naming him the 2007 Distinguished Alumnus. At the awards banquet, he filled out his table with his wife, adult daughter and four RIT alumni from his graduating class. They worked in different fields, lived all over the country and experienced different life challenges. Yet the bonds they had established while undergraduates at RIT remained strong, and they maintained their friendship over the many years. This, too, will be the experience of many RIT students graduating this year.

This will be the final graduation over which I shall preside. It is a wonderful way to cap my career– taking pride in and celebrating with the outstanding graduates of the RIT class of 2007. I thank them for all they have given me and wish them all the happiness and recognition they so aptly deserve.

To read “The Simone Legacy,” a time line of Simone’s tenure at RIT and comments from colleagues in the Spring 2007 issue of RIT: The University Magazine, visit www.rit.edu/news.


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