Two RIT Colleges Undergo Name Changes
by Kasey Mathews | published Sep. 11th, 2018
As the spring semester ended, RIT students were greeted with the news that two colleges would be undergoing name changes over the summer. These colleges, formerly known as the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) and College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (CIAS), would operate under the names College of Engineering Technology (CET) and College of Art and Design (CAD) after July 1, 2018.
The name change has been met with mixed reactions; however, the rebranding effort has been seen through.
CIAS to CAD
CAD, formerly CIAS, first looked into changing its name nearly three years ago. According to Interim Dean Robin Cass, the process began when then-dean Lorraine Justice noticed an air of confusion regarding the types of programs housed within the college.
A committee was formed, consisting of several members of college staff, faculty, alumni, students and other stakeholders, with the goal of formulating a new name. The committee met for the first time on Nov. 4, 2015. At subsequent meetings, the committee was split into subcommittees tasked with sourcing feedback and ideas from various stakeholder groups.
“We met for a year, discussing what we wanted and what the dean at the time was interested in,” said Cass. “Basically, we were becoming more accurate in our name and becoming more accessible and visible.”
After nearly a year of formulating name ideas in each subcommittee, the group reconvened and held an All College Meeting in the Webb Auditorium. All members of the CIAS community were welcome to attend and the group was provided a list of name recommendations from each of the stakeholder groups. The most popular name that came out of this was the College of Art, Design and Media Sciences.
Since then, Dean Justice left her position and Cass temporarily assumed the role. Additionally, President Bill Destler announced his retirement. Due to this, it was recommended all non-critical projects would be put on hold so as to better ease the presidential transition. It was only once the new administration began settling in that the idea of a name change was revisited.
“We were asked to readdress the process with the idea that we would decide on a name by the end of this year,” said Cass. “That process means we actually have to decide by early March.”
After the internal decision was made, it would have to be reviewed by the board of trustees; thus, some leeway had to be left at the end of the academic year in order to meet the deadline.
There were also some guidelines that the administration set forth when selecting this new name, such as the inclusion of the terms “art” and “design,” as well as the encouragement to avoid the term “science” so as to avoid confusion with the many other colleges across campus.
Around the same time, it was decided that the School of Media Sciences would move to CAST to better align with the modern standards of the industry.
So, under a strict and fast-approaching deadline, the college decided to host another All College Meeting, gathering feedback from the community. Afterwards, the group decided to utilize the previously-favored name, College of Art, Design and Media Sciences. With media sciences gone, however, this was simply shortened to the College of Art and Design.
CAST to CET
CET, formerly CAST, began looking at a potential name change at the same time they were reorganizing the variety of programs offered. With the School of International Hospitality and Service Innovation (IHSI) set to move under the Saunders College of Business in coming years, as well as the incoming School of Media Sciences from CAD, administrators in CAST worked to analyze what that meant for the identity of the college.
“One of the things [administration wanted] was to basically reflect more of the programs that are going to be left behind within the college, with [IHSI] moving to business,” said S. Manian Ramkumar, interim dean of CET.
Another large concern was the lack of understanding prospective students had of what exactly CAST constituted. Ramkumar aimed to reduce the confusion that parents and students often experience in understanding the differences between general and applied sciences.
A survey was sent out to faculty members to gather ideas for a new name. The data from this survey was gathered and administrators from both the college and university level worked to find a name that best reflected the college as a whole. Eventually, “CET” was settled upon.
Not everyone is satisfied with the level of transparency displayed during this process, however.
Student Government (SG) felt entirely left out of the decision-making process, according to SG President Bobby Moakley, a fourth year environmental science major.
“We found out at the same time everyone else did,” Moakley stated, referring to the changes in the names.
Former CIAS Senator and RIT graduate Samantha Ferrigno even made a PawPrints petition asking for the name change to be put on hold. A major reason behind this reluctance to accept the new name fell in the apparent misrepresentation of students within these colleges, especially CAD.
With so many students graduating from CAD with Bachelor of Science degrees, many students — including Ferrigno — feel the new name largely ignores this population.
Despite the controversy, the name change took effect in July and has since been instituted university-wide. The sentiment among many students is one of wariness, as they hope such large decisions will be met with higher levels of transparency and student involvement in the future.
”I really hope that Student Government and the student body as a whole is going to be able to have a role in these decisions going forward,” Moakley said.