President David Munson’s 2023 commencement address

Scott Hamilton

RIT President David Munson addressed more than 4,800 graduates, their family members and guests, and faculty at the university’s 138th commencement ceremony in the Gordon Field House on May 12.

RIT President David Munson addressed the crowd at the Gordon Field House during RIT's annual commencement ceremony on May 12. The full text of his speech is below:

Good morning, Tigers!

It is my pleasure to welcome you—Class of 2023…families, friends, faculty, staff, and trustees to this special occasion.

MY warmest congratulations to our new graduates in their finest hour here at RIT.

Class of ‘23, think back to your first-year orientation and kicking off you RIT adventure here in this field house.

You have worked incredibly hard to get to this moment.  

And now you are graduating!

Before I get too far into my remarks, I want to acknowledge one thing: I used ChatGPT to craft this entire address........  No, no, no, I'm only kidding!  Despite the temptation, this is truly coming from the heart.

What an honor it has been for me to serve as your president as we celebrate your achievements today. I continue to be amazed and impressed by your talent and devotion to your studies, not to mention your perseverance and resiliency — as you navigated a pandemic!

Today, we have more than 4,800 students — at all degree levels — earning diplomas within this academic year. This includes our students at our campuses located in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo. We are truly a global university.

This is an extraordinary time for RIT with our amazing community of creators and innovators. Many of you are blessed today to turn multiple job offers into your No. 1 choices. These range from brand-name companies to entrepreneurial start-up firms. Some of you will move on to seek advanced degrees either from RIT or other prominent universities, while others will go on to serve in the military or service organizations like the Peace Corps. Each graduate in this audience has an amazing story behind their journey, culminating in this moment.

Let’s talk about serving the greater good … because from my vantage point, the world needs more RIT Tigers! Success is not measured by material wealth or prestige. It is my hope that you wake up tomorrow not solely focused on how to earn a living. Rather, that you go out and do your best to enrich the world. Indeed, RIT alumni — now more than 145,000 strong with you included — are emblematic of goodness.

In the RIT context, “innovation” is about leveraging our strengths in technology, the arts, and design — the core of our university — to produce graduates in every discipline capable of practicing transformative innovation that serves the greater good.

Today’s world needs people who know how to create and innovate, analyze and implement, collaborate and lead. We represent creativity and innovation in all fields, with a strong culture of making. We make things that never existed before, whether those things are physical objects, digital media, new processes, or breakthrough concepts or ideas. And, we put those things into use. That's innovation!

While you continue on your amazing journey, let me assure you that RIT will continue to grow and become the best it can be. RIT has created an ecosystem that embraces and designs the future. You will see an acceleration of our trajectory.

When you return to campus as an alum, you will see changes … changes that should make you feel great pride … new facilities, new programs, new faculty and staff, and students who are as smart as ever. You literally have laid the foundation that enables this exciting future. You are part of RIT for Life.

As you move on to your next phase, you will face new challenges and tackle new opportunities. I know you will continue to employ the abilities and skills you have developed here at RIT. I urge you to continue to rely on your RIT family for support whenever needed. We hope that, when you reflect on your time at RIT, your memories will be of favorite professors and staff, lasting friendships, and a feeling of joy and fulfillment. All of us at RIT—faculty, staff, and trustees—congratulate you and your families and wish you much continued success.

Please come back and visit us often! Whether it is for Brick City Homecoming, Imagine RIT, or a hockey game, we love it when you return to campus.

You have my deepest admiration and gratitude. Thank you again, and congratulations!

Before I leave the podium, I would be remiss if I did not congratulate our academic leader, who also soon will be writing a new chapter in her career. Ellen Granberg, our provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, will become the president of George Washington University on July 1st. Ellen has played a major role in building the people, programs, and profile of RIT. She is a brilliant and strategic thinker, an accomplished planner, and a committed doer. Her collaborative and engaging personal style will serve her especially well as she leads George Washington, just as it has here at RIT.

Congratulations Ellen!