Dr. David C. Munson’s First Presidential Address at 50th Anniversary Celebration

Dr. David C. Munson’s First Presidential Address at 50th Anniversary Celebration


so ladies and gentlemen please join me
in welcoming to the podium RIT president David Munson. Well thanks very much for
the warm welcome it is truly a pleasure and privilege to
celebrate here with you tonight. Lisa’s right, I’ve been officially on the job I
guess it’s exactly 20 days and I get to jump into the NRS 50th anniversary my
question is do we always have marquee events like this – is it every Thursday
night? That’s what I’m expecting, that’s what I’m hoping. No seriously, what a
magnificent setting and I’ve been told that RIT knows how to do events and boy
this one caps it off. What an honor it is for me to stand before you tonight.
I certainly pledge that I will be working hard to earn the respect of this
valued group of supporters as we move forward together. I’m committed to
building on the great foundation of RIT. The university has been rapidly
ascending for many years under the leadership of President Bill Destler,
President Al Simone and their predecessors. Bill and Al, I know you’re
both here tonight. Thank you so much. We should credit your spouses as well I
realize that. Lisa said a few things about me so I’m not going to dwell on
that, but during my formative years I did a lot of music, a lot of math, a lot of
hiking and camping, and visiting the national parks, but the thing that I
remember most distinctly from my childhood and some of you have heard
this was reading Popular Science magazines. Somehow I just couldn’t get enough of Popular Science. I dreamed about those
little transistor radios you could carry around with you and somehow seven
transistors was so much better than six transistors. So yeah, I was one of those.
But along with my love of music and arts I’m proud techie and now real engineer. My work in the research world is primarily in the areas of signal and image
processing and my specialty is something called synthetic aperture radar where
you and your activities can be seen from space at night in all kinds of weather. See me later for a crash course on that. I’m passionate about students. Students
thrive in a culture of intellectual curiosity
especially when it’s possible to turn that curiosity into action. I have a
habit of forming deep friendships not just with students but also alumni and
friends. So beware, if you feed me I’m going to stick around. In fact, I’m going to
be here all night. My wife Nancy and I are so happy to be part of our RIT and
the Rochester community. This is our first official RIT event so it’s
appropriate that we kick off our RIT lives with you here this evening. You the
university’s closest supporters. I’d like you all to meet my greatest supporter
and my partner in all this, Nancy. Nancy would you please stand? I’m so appreciative that she was willing
to take on one more adventure. I have plenty to learn and discover as we all
strive to lead this university to preeminence. One thing I do know is that
supporters like you are incredibly important to RIT s current excellence
and also future success. The Presidential Search Committee and board members
have shared valuable insights with me about RIT and its great history. And of
course Chris Whitman is at the top of that list. And I’ve had the chance to
watch this University all…yeah, we can clap for Chris. You don’t often see that
much energy and dedication. Well I’ve already had a chance to watch this
University in action. I’m so impressed by the progress that I’ve seen and I look
forward to doing my best to contribute to that progress in the future. I’m now a
beneficiary of your faithful support which has helped establish RIT s current
strong standing in higher education. From my eyes I see some great new
opportunities for the years ahead. Let me share just a few thoughts. Many of our
peer universities struggle with meeting enrollment goals. RIT has consistently
met its goals thanks in part to your scholarship support and the gifts that
drive attractive and relevant academic programs. These scholarships are directly
impacting the biggest issue facing higher education today – cost and access
for all social sectors of our society. After a record year in freshmen
applications this past spring University enrollment is now approaching 19,000
students for the first time in our history this fall. Given this increase RIT is definitely growing. And given this,
increased scholarship support is going to be a top priority in the coming years
and I hope that I can count on you to all help RIT with that through your
continued generosity. Diversity is connected to this enrollment challenge
again speaking about access to college for so many families. For RIT diversity
has grown significantly and we demonstrate that those commitments or
those committed to diversity are all better for it. I’m proud to join a
university that not only walks that walk but has so many friends like you who
have joined us in building a diverse and inclusive community. Along those lines we have good news to share. This fall we anticipate having the most racially and
ethnically diverse freshman class in the history of RIT. That’s great. But we never rest on our laurels and we can do still more. And when I speak of diversity I’m speaking
in the broadest of senses. I’d like to see the continued breadth of academic
programs that attract diverse talents and perspectives. The opportunities
abound in this area provided that we are strategic and continue to apply a strong
business model to all new endeavors. We’re also seeing a number of our peer
universities facing questions of value. Fortunately RIT is already very well
known for our career focused approach demonstrated in our 95 percent placement
rates in our networks with corporate partners. I’m looking forward to adding
to our growing focus on research initiatives, technology development and
successful startups, as we more deeply infuse creativity and innovation
throughout the campus. As I begin this first year I truly believe that RIT
opportunities are extensive. Let me add that I now work inside Eastman Hall and
right outside that building inscribed in the Kodak quad arch are these words from
George Eastman, and I quote. “The progress of the world depends almost entirely upon education.” It’s a great reminder of our heritage,
our mission and our future. RIT is now one of the top few universities in the
nation working at the intersection of technology, the arts and design, and we’re
also home to NTID. What a jewel in our crown. We can continue to use these
strengths, the core of the university, that helped build important and unique
programs in all disciplines; everything rating or radiating out from that core,
including, very importantly, business, health sciences, and yes, the liberal arts. We can lead the nation if not the world in taking this approach, and as we do that work we will be placing increased emphasis on research and discovery, scholarly work,
and artistic expression. As we become more research oriented our students will
still be at the forefront. I wish for RIT to be the most student-centered research
university in the nation as we train the future leaders of society. Along with
preparation for career our students will be positioned to lead lives a great
consequence and purpose both inside and outside of their profession. As members
of NRS you clearly understand that your lives are about more than a career. While
work forms a keystone for daily life you demonstrate that it’s just a part of
the structure of a life well-lived. Each of you demonstrates this philosophy
through your support of RIT and can serve as models for our students in your
commitment to keeping RIT strong. Case in point, Joe Lobozzo, our 2017 NRS award
recipient. Joe is a shining example of a life of purpose. With your continued and increasing
philanthropic support RIT can continue to leverage its strengths to accomplish
so much more. We are grateful for your support of RIT, but also know that we are
equally grateful for your proud association with our University. Your
willingness to carry the RIT banner out to your industries and your communities
will help extend RIT’s reach and raise our stature to that of the new
model for higher education that is driving progress around the globe. Great
universities exist because of great people. Universities win with the best
and most engaged students, alumni, faculty, staff and supporters. As members of this
family know that you are deeply valued by the RIT community and appreciated by
all for your efforts to make our progress possible. We simply cannot do this without you. It is an honor to be working with each of
you. Thank you all.

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