Of Geeks and Greatness
by Bryanne McDonough | published Feb. 10th, 2015
After a year of careful planning, RIT has put forth a 10-year strategic plan entitled "Greatness Through Difference." This plan was a collaboration between staff, students and administration, and is set to be implemented over the next 10 years. Kit Mayberry, vice president for strategic planning and special initiatives, played a large role in the development of this plan. Mayberry had to "balance a combination of the input we were getting ... and [make] determinations about whether or not we should use it." Dr. Destler was the chair of the Steering Committee, which guided the development of this plan. There were also five task forces composed of students, faculty and staff where each focused on making a report around five dimensions they felt needed to be addressed which eventually became very similar to the five dimensions listed in the report.
"We did a great job of soliciting input from all sorts of different groups, but particularly students," Mayberry said. President Destler even did a Reddit session, during which he answered questions posed by students. Student Government [SG], which is developing their own strategic plan, was also consulted. "As a governance group, the strategic planning committee constantly went back to the governance groups: Academic Senate, Staff Council and Student Government," said Ashley Carrington, president of SG and dual major in Finance and Management Information Systems.
Many of the objectives in the plan will benefit students. For example, the plan wants to "revise degree program requirements so that an experiential learning component is required in all undergraduate and graduate programs." In addition, according to Mayberry, "We are going to make sure that all students ... have an opportunity to be intimately involved with some of the research that goes on." Carrington has high hopes about the Strategic Plan, saying that "the Strategic Plan is ultimately to progress the university within the nation and the globe, but it is also to help students progress throughout their tenure at RIT."
Implementing the plan will be another challenge. "With any strategic plan, people need to have a system of checking the goals of the strategic plan," said Carrington. President Destler has created an Implementation Team whose job will be to follow up on the plan and ensure that it is being followed. Mayberry spoke about delegating goals of the plan, called 'Difference Makers,' to the different vice presidents of the college in the days to come. "We're working with the vice presidents ... to get them to identify the Difference Makers that clearly fall in their area." The vice presidents will be meeting with Dr. Destler in December to decide on specific responsibilities. One of the challenges of this plan is the lack of numerical goals, which will make it difficult to gauge progress. Mayberry says that the numerical goals will be developed later, as it is too hard to agree on them at this stage.
The plan, according to Mayberry, hopes to develop "one big incredibly diverse educational world." Many of the goals are lofty, but the administration and SG have high hopes for the plan. "Greatness Through Difference" reads chronologically: it begins with RIT's beginnings, describes RIT's present situation and ends with an outline for the future. In an epilogue written by Dr. Destler entitled "Of Geeks and Greatness," RIT is compared to a geeky student in high school at her class reunion: "The cheerleaders and prom queens may have lost some of their early fizzle, but our geeky alum, fueled by the courage and creativity of her difference, is growing strong."