RIT Presidential Search LogoThanks to the previous post on RIT’s search for a new president, I’ve had a noticeable jump in traffic. Thank you to everyone who e-​mailed, left comments, or talked to me in person about the points I raised in the last post. More importantly, thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to send a note to RIT’s Board of Trustees.

For those new to the site, the short version is this: RIT is in the process of picking a new president. There are concerns that the Board of Trustees may lean towards Dr. James Watters, RIT’s CFO. He’s the wrong choice for all the reasons listed in my previous post. I am asking anyone connected with RIT, especially Alumni, to communicate to the board that they feel Dr. William Destler, Provost of the University of Maryland, is the correct man to lead RIT into the next stage of its development.

I truly believe that if enough alumni, student, faculty and community voices are raised, the right man will be offered the Presidency here at RIT.

In the meantime, if you are still unsure about the situation, or need to see more opinions as to why Dr. Destler is the right man for the job, take a look at the following:

  • A two part interview with Dr. Destler conducted by an independent faculty publication at the University of Maryland (Part 1) (Part 2). You’ll find that while Destler may not always give the answer the interviewer wants to hear, he’s always open to discussion, willing to admit when he’s wrong, and honest about a number of University shortcomings.
  • Comments from RIT’s American Association of University Professors public discussion board:
    • ProfRay: Dr. Destler is a well rounded and accomplished leader whose capacity to manage the interests of a large and diverse research institution make him eminently qualified to bring his vision, perspective and ability to our Institute. He will be able to grow this place financially and conceptually. I genuinely believe RIT is on the verge of achieving critical mass with regard to its unique attributes and its overall identity. Destler has the capacity to synergize RIT, leading us to greater prominence both nationally and globally.
    • longRITer: I greatly admire Dr. Watters — his vision, his business acumen and his abilty to bring together talent to get jobs done. A university president needs these skills. My concern is that RIT will move more towards business excellence while further losing sight of its academic mission. The colleges will become cost centers rather than centers of scholarship. That the physical plant will be beautiful while the campus slips further from its academic mission. It is clear to me that unless we reverse this trend, the campus will never move to great.… I went to Wednesday’s forum expecting Dr. Watters to be dynamic. He had the hometeam advantage — yet, his presentation and responses fell short.… The crowd was electric at Dr. Destler’s presentation. The crowd for Dr. Watters gave him every chance to pull it off. It didn’t work. It would be great to practice promoting from within the ranks of RIT. I am convinced that noble idea is too risky this time.Dr. Destler impressed me at the open forum. He comes closer to the kind of academic leader I believe RIT needs. Some of his ideas for RIT and some of the programs he has implemented at Maryland are moves in the right direction in my opinion.
    • TAD: Dr. Destler seems to me to be marvelous choice for the position that I see as that of university president. His background has allowed him to gain vast experience in the classroom, in research, in leadership and management of academic units from the department level up to the university level, as well as in fundraising. He would definitely bring an infusion ???fresh blood??? into an administration that seems to me to have become rather inbred with internal promotions, which many of us view as having become a bit of an ???old boy???s??? network (no gender issues implied).… Having been on the faculty at RIT for almost a quarter century, I have always found it peculiar that we have never seen a person from technical field (science, math, engineering) appointed to any position in the tower. Need we be reminded of the ???T??? in RIT? Some may argue that RIT is not a traditional institution and therefore the traditional academic path to the top is anathema in a leader. Let us not make a decision here just to show the world that we are iconoclasts. In order to direct the course of RIT insofar as new directives and programs, the person at the helm will need to have more than a passing familiarity with the role of technology in our culture and society. It seems to me that the choice between these two candidates is an obvious one.

Again, if you’re interested about the future of RIT, join the conversation. We all need to be discussing this! Or take action. Make sure to complete the Academic Senate’s Survey (note: it’s a different survey than the one on the main RIT site and allows for comments) and e-​mail your thoughts to our Board of Trustees!

Think about it, discuss it, and act!