President David Munson's 2023 New Student Convocation address

Thank you, Provost David! Let’s give a big RIT Tiger welcome to Dr. David as he joined us just four weeks ago in his new role as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. David joined RIT from Michigan State University, where he was both Dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and Associate Provost.

What inspiring words by our earlier speakers, and wonderful performances by RIT students! We have so much talent across the university. I hope all of you will consider sharing your talents with the university in the coming years as opportunities arise.

I am thrilled to welcome all students, both new and returning, graduate and undergraduate, freshmen and transfers, to RIT. It is wonderful to look out and see you all and to know that we are starting a new fall semester! It is also my pleasure to welcome all families and friends of our students who are watching via our livestream. Your continued love and support will be incredibly important to your students in the coming years. I look forward to seeing you in person at other events later in the year.

Students, I know that your path to RIT has not always been a smooth one – you’ve had your ups and downs, trials and tribulations. I think I know how you feel. Just when you’ve made it to the top of the hill, it’s time to start climbing yet another one, right? But it’s really about the journey of exploration and adventure and using creativity to solve problems along the way. Lean into life, and your college experience will be filled with joy and awe.

Big ideas can turn into reality. When most of you were in middle school, RIT leaders and students like yourselves brainstormed, conceptualized, designed, problem-solved, collaborated, and built a place where your ideas, creativity, and innovation can come to life. We now have the keys to open the SHED (the Student Hall for Exploration and Development). Many of you will take classes there, build projects there, or perform there. Everyone will have an opportunity to join us for a community open house on Friday, Sept. 29th. The SHED is a place where RIT students will showcase technology, the arts, and design. This creative hub will include the Brooks H. Bower Maker Showcase, the Sklarsky Glass Box Theater, and music and dance studios. The SHED’s focus on hands-on learning extends to 27 new classrooms — five extra-large learning spaces designed for active learning and 22 regular-sized flexible classrooms in the renovated Wallace Library. RIT is building places and spaces for thinkers, creators, and makers unlike any other university in the nation. The SHED will showcase creativity every day with our best innovation always on display. I look forward to seeing you next month, as we inspire our imaginations with the launch of the latest innovative, dynamic building on the RIT campus.

But that is not all … We are in the final stages of the expansion and renovation of Saunders College of Business, which will be completed by the end of the semester. … Construction began this summer on a new two-story research building with 19 laboratories … and in a couple of weeks, on the other side of campus, we will break ground for a 750-seat music performance theater. This coming spring we will begin construction on our new athletic stadium. Our campus is being transformed and the best part is that you will be able to use all of these new facilities!

In addition to the physical changes, RIT is moving forward with unique offerings for 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. You will find that we put a high value on bringing goodness to the world. Now more than ever, 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 exceptional 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.

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 — 145,000 alumni — shaping and improving the world. And now it’s your turn!

Although RIT will challenge you and push you on a regular basis, you will find our campus to be a highly 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 assimilate into university life.  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 a faculty member, classmate, lab partner, academic advisor, RA, roommate, friend, coach, counselor…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 maintain a healthy campus culture, so students succeed in reaching academic and personal goals.

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 Darcie Jones, 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 Professor O’Neil explained, faculty are anxious to work with you – both in and outside of classes – to teach you, challenge you, and help you unlock and unleash the creativity and innovation that lives in each of you.  Being present in class and engaging with your fellow students, and really listening and offering your thoughts, opinions and findings will enhance the college experience for both you and your fellow students. Staff from 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 RIT journey.

Let me tell you about your fellow 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.

Be thoughtful in your decisions about your academics and your personal life. 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. Ask for help. Use your time at RIT to nurture your intellectual curiosity. Learn how to let your creativity loose and put it to use. Take those hard classes, work on that stretch project, or try that new activity. Make lots of friends and have fun along the way! But perhaps most important, make the best of your college experience by showing up, being present, and taking in all that this university has to offer you, so you can make a positive impact in this world.

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 affect 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.

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 during your journey. And I look forward to applauding your graduation in just a few short years!

Finally, GO TIGERS!