RIT Adopts 2025 Strategic Plan: ‘Greatness Through Difference’

Blueprint positions RIT strengths with public’s demands




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Elizabeth Lamark/RIT Production Services

RIT leadership and its Board of Trustees adopted a new strategic plan today titled “Greatness Through Difference” that will serve as a blueprint for RIT through 2025.

RIT leadership and its Board of Trustees adopted a new strategic plan today that will serve as a blueprint for the university through 2025. The plan, titled “Greatness Through Difference,” will position Rochester Institute of Technology among the world’s most innovative, agile and visionary universities, RIT leaders said.

“RIT will become an internationally distinguished university by exploiting its differences and better meeting the needs of a rapidly shrinking world,” said RIT President Bill Destler. “RIT will achieve greatness through difference. We belong in the category of the world’s great universities, not because we seek to replicate the great universities of the 20th century, but because we are already practicing what future universities must provide.”

Strategic Plan participation for nearly a year included hundreds of RIT stakeholders: students, alumni, faculty, staff, trustees, international campuses, employers, industry partners, retirees and friends of the university.

Nationally, higher education is struggling in areas such as affordability, critical thinking, diversity and education that leads to a return on investment for graduates who must be globally competitive in the job market. RIT leaders say the new plan will provide instruction in a broadening spectrum of knowledge, skills and competencies that will earn gainful and satisfying careers for graduates.

“The public is looking for institutions that are responding to their concerns about traditional higher education,” said Trustee Brian Hall ’78 (MBA), chairman of the board. “RIT is aggressively addressing these public demands. RIT, building upon its talent for distinctiveness and innovation, its successful management of change, and its visionary approach to higher education, will continue not just to survive and to thrive, but to reach new heights of greatness. We are confident that the route mapped within this Strategic Plan will allow us to navigate successfully an uncertain future and to emerge as a world-class university without peer.”

Destler noted that throughout its 186-year history, RIT has always been a different kind of university. This is due to several distinctive programs, which Destler called “crown jewels” for RIT, including: a cooperative education program, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, imaging science, the School for American Crafts, industrial design, photography, film and animation, sustainable manufacturing and computational astrophysics. “What differentiates RIT is none of these is in a traditional academic discipline,” he said.

The plan is centered on five intersecting dimensions, or pillars:

  • Career Education and Student Success
  • The Student-centered Research University
  • Leveraging Difference
  • Affordability, Value and Return on Investment
  • Organizational Agility

“In this new strategic plan, RIT is leading with its strengths—its difference, its creativity and its comfort with change and innovation,” said Kit Mayberry, vice president for strategic planning and special initiatives. “These assets, which are widely embraced by RIT faculty, staff and students, have become ingrained in the institutional character and should serve us well as we move ahead to the implementation phase. They will also serve us at the inevitable times when external circumstances dictate a revision of course or modification of strategies.”

Jeremy Haefner, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said a theme with an interdisciplinary approach is woven throughout the plan.

“Throughout the plan, you will read about different ideas that speak to the need to increase interdisciplinary opportunities on campus,” said Haefner. “In the future, I can see an environment that not only permits faculty to collaborate outside their discipline, but, in fact, requires it. I can see students flocking to take courses outside of their majors because they will be given the opportunity to explore. Engineering students taking furniture-making classes, physics students clamoring for music courses … All of these are enhancing the development of our students and keeping RIT at the forefront of experiential learning and discovery.”

Within the plan’s five dimensions, here is a sample of some of the many goals that university leaders believe will be “difference makers”:

  • RIT will be a center of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship that serves as an important economic engine for Rochester, the region and the nation.
  • RIT will offer opportunities for study at the intersections of technology and the arts, imagination and application, and rigor and curiosity—all designed to meet the demands of future careers in the complex global economy.
  • RIT will be internationally distinguished as a research university through its focus on and investment in specific interdisciplinary research areas identified through a systematic and inclusive selection process.
  • RIT will enlarge its graduate portfolio through adding professional and research-focused programs in STEM fields, the humanities, social sciences and arts, bringing the graduate population to 30 percent of the total student population.
  • RIT will be among the top five national universities in global engagement, as measured by the breadth and size of its international student and alumni populations.
  • RIT will be the largest producer of female, minority male, and deaf or hard-of-hearing STEM graduates among all private colleges in the U.S.
  • RIT will be the university with the best placement rate and return on investment of all private universities in the United States.
  • RIT will become the university that best utilizes educational technology to improve access, maintain academic quality and achieve desired learning outcomes while balancing costs.
  • RIT’s curricular, administrative and organizational structures will serve, not impede, discovery, border crossing and collaboration among students, faculty and staff.
  • RIT will develop a university culture that is less risk-averse and less bureaucratic; it will streamline compliance measures and empower local decision making responsibilities.

“RIT has all the ingredients to realize these goals,” said Destler. “While the future holds surprises for us, we are confident that the route mapped within this strategic plan will allow us to emerge as a world-class university. Yes, the plan is ambitious, even audacious. But it is very achievable.”

To review the entire plan, go to http://www.rit.edu/president/plan2025/.

201411/ritaeriallamark.jpg

Elizabeth Lamark/RIT Production Services

RIT leadership and its Board of Trustees adopted a new strategic plan today titled “Greatness Through Difference” that will serve as a blueprint for RIT through 2025.