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RIT is currently creating its blueprint for the next 10 years. Since the adoption of the last strategic plan in 2005, the university has transformed from a fine regional university to one of national prominence. The challenge ahead is how to become a world-class university without peer. 

Nov. 14, 2014
Ryne Raffaelle

Greater Emphasis on Scholarship and Research

Around the turn of the 21st century, RIT leadership instituted a new vision for research.

“We will be first in that class of universities that forms real, effective, and meaningful partnerships with industry and government,” said then RIT President Albert Simone when he announced his intentions. It was felt that the time had come for RIT to engage in an increased level of sponsored research and scholarly dissemination that would help the university emerge on the national stage. “First in Class” became the catch phrase.

This was partially in response to declining student demographics in the northeast and the need to expand the geographical base from which we were drawing students. RIT leadership also recognized that expanding the research portfolio would assist the university in what it had always done well—provide students with a hands-on experiential learning experience that would serve them well in their future careers. As student enrollment climbed, it was clear that additional resources would be required to provide meaningful research opportunities on campus to supplement the other hands-on experiences students received through their co-op placements and other opportunities, such as senior design projects.

In conjunction with the increasing level of sponsored research was an acknowledgement that competing at the national level for research funding would require an expansion of our terminal degree programs. Thus RIT added to its one pre-existing and very successful doctoral program in imaging science (1989). New Ph.D. programs were launched in microsystems engineering (2002), computing and information sciences (2005), color science (2007), astrophysical sciences and technology (2008), sustainability (2008), and engineering (2014).

Creation of Interdisciplinary Research Centers

Another trend at RIT was the transition from the model of an individual principal investigator (PI) working with an undergraduate or graduate student to one of interdisciplinary research centers. These centers incorporated multiple grants and PIs, many graduate and undergraduate students, and an increasing number of Ph.D. students and even some post-doctoral researchers. A new designation was established in 2009, titled RIT Research Centers of Excellence. These centers include the NanoPower Research Labs (NPRL), Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Lab (DIRS), Multidisciplinary Vision Research Lab (MVRL), Laboratory for Multiwavelength Astrophysics (LAMA), Center for Detectors (CFD), Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation (CCRG), Center for Advancing Science/ Mathematics Teaching, Learning and Evaluation (CASTLE), and Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC) Center. All of these initiatives resulted in dramatic growth in both the number of proposals and the number of new research awards received.

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Original Source: RIT Research Magazine