President Destler comments on Kodak bankruptcy

George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

A compilation of Kodak film boxes from the last century.

To: RIT Community
From: President Bill Destler
Date: Jan. 19, 2012
Subject: Eastman Kodak's bankruptcy announcement

The news of Eastman Kodak filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization is certainly historic. Yet we need to understand, too, that Chapter 11 does not mean Kodak is going out of business. The 131-year-old company is taking steps to build a new foundation for the future. RIT will remain a supportive partner in this uncharted territory for Kodak.

Kodak and RIT ties go back to 1892 when George Eastman donated $5,000 to the university’s forerunner, Mechanics Institute. Eastman served as an Institute trustee from 1890–1915, including as chairman. Our century-long relationship blossomed into a multifaceted and multibeneficial partnership that continues today.

  • Thousands of alumni have worked at the company.
  • Thousands of students have gained valuable co-op experience.
  • Hundreds of former Kodakers joined the ranks of our faculty and staff over many decades.
  • Kodak's philanthropic support well exceeds $61 million, with research contracts, hiring history and volunteer efforts adding millions more.
  • Dozens of Kodak employees dutifully served on the RIT Board of Trustees, even today, following in Eastman’s footsteps.
  • Kodak is a recent founding partner of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability.
  • The Eastman Kodak Quad stands as a beacon of our century-long relationship (dedicated in 2003 in honor of 100 years).

While this news is significant, there will be new opportunities to innovate. Kodak has reached out to RIT and looks forward to continuing and strengthening our relationship well into the future. The company has invited us to visit its website at to learn more about the reorganization.

Related story:
See RIT Experts Discuss Kodak Bankruptcy Filing to read what experts from the E. Philip Saunders College of Business and College of Imaging Arts and Sciences say about Kodak’s past and future.