President David Munson addresses crowd at 2019 New Student Convocation

A. Sue Weisler

President David Munson spoke to the crowd during New Student Convocation on Aug. 21 in the Gordon Field House.

President David Munson spoke to the crowd during New Student Convocation on Aug. 21 in the Gordon Field House. Below is the full text of his speech:

It is with great pleasure that I welcome all students, both new and returning, graduate and undergraduate, freshmen and transfers, to RIT. It is also my pleasure to welcome all parents and friends of our students who are here to wish them well and send them off on their educational journey. Your love and support will be incredibly important to them in the coming years. 

By becoming an RIT Tiger, you have joined a university family that is like no other. We do things in our own way by embracing the unconventional to be truly distinctive. That mentality of uniqueness is baked into our university, as we have no interest in the status quo. We are a university where technology, the arts, and design intersect in ways that will improve our communities, our nation, and our world. We have RIT Tigers all around the globe shaping and improving the world. And now, it’s your turn!

RIT is moving forward with unique offerings and new ways to reach students, reflecting the university’s belief that creativity and critical thinking are essential life tools. We pride ourselves in preparing our graduates to be citizens of the world. That means preparing our students not just for jobs and careers, but also for life. In the RIT context, “innovation” takes on a rich meaning; it is not just about novelty or originality; it is about creating the tools, processes, and systems that will make things better than they are.

You will find that we put a high value on bringing goodness to the world. The world needs inspiring, collaborative, and original thinkers and doers with a deep commitment to the welfare of humanity. It all begins with people and, at RIT, we have an unusual assembly of creative individuals. This is a place where you can exercise your multiple talents, satisfy your thirst for learning and for doing, and experiment along the way.

RIT is a diverse place in many ways, with the presence of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf adding to RIT’s uniqueness. As you’ve heard from Dr. Johnson and your student government president Anika Aftab, we are ready to provide you with an amazing array of opportunities to complement your academic life with offerings in almost any area you can imagine.  As Dr. Connelly explained, faculty are anxious to work with you – both in and outside of classes – to teach you, challenge you, and help you unlock the creativity and innovation that lives in each of you.  Staff across campus look forward to supporting and encouraging you as you continue on your journey to graduation.  In short, we are ready to help you make the most of your studies here.

Let me tell you about RIT students. They are curious. They love to tinker. They want to learn how to turn their ideas into action.  They are passionate about what they do and have a real sense of purpose.  I envision that for all of you and I am excited about how your passions and purpose will evolve and emerge.  But to get there, you will have to work really hard and be willing to push yourself farther than you ever have before.

Although we will challenge you and push you on a regular basis, you will find RIT to be a supportive place. No matter where you come from – small towns, big city suburbs, inner cities, rural areas, other countries – there are people and organizations here to help you.  Whether you are the first in your family to attend college or the tenth – we have structures in place to help you navigate RIT’s systems and processes.

If you feel like giving up at any point – don’t. Just reach out to your professors, classmate, lab partner, academic advisor, RA, roommate, friend, coach…and they will be ready to help you through the tough times. RIT has an extensive range of resources and services available to support and serve students. Our goal is to create a healthy campus culture, so students succeed in reaching academic and personal goals.

Be thoughtful in your decisions about your academics and your personal life and look out for one another. This university has the will and the resources to help students work harder and smarter. Take advantage of them. Ask questions. Ask why. Use your time at RIT to nurture your intellectual curiosity. Learn how to let loose your creativity and put it to use. Take those hard classes, work on that stretch project, or try that new activity. Be involved in creating things that never before existed in an effort to improve the world. Make lots of friends. And yes, have fun along the way!

As you start to unleash your academic potential, I encourage you to value and appreciate each other. You will meet people who are very similar to you and you will also meet people who are very different from you. Be open to learning and growing.  Learn how to discuss sensitive topics honestly and respectfully.  Learn how to disagree. Learn how to become involved in your communities to effect positive change. Here at RIT we will provide you with guidance and opportunities to learn about community engagement and then give you opportunities to actually engage. These and other experiences outside the classroom may be as important as your academic studies. Don’t miss chances to develop your skills in communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership.  

One can never underestimate the power of our students and their ideas, supported by outstanding faculty and staff, to do great things. As RIT continues to become more research oriented, you, our students, will be at the forefront. We wish for RIT to be the most student-centered research university in the nation as we educate the future leaders of society. You will be positioned to lead lives of great purpose and consequence, far beyond your chosen field.

By working together, we can turn big dreams into reality. I am so excited by the possibilities and I hope you are too. I will be here to support you and to celebrate your accomplishments throughout your journey. I look forward to standing in front of you in a few short years, applauding your graduation!

Finally, GO TIGERS!