On December 16 President Bill Destler hosted the first open forum for the current round of strategic planning. Destler stated that there is typically a new strategic plan every ten years; the upcoming plan informing RIT’s efforts from January 2015 until January 2025. He emphasized that the plan needed to be a community plan approved by the Trustees, and not a Trustee plan thrust on the community.

Destler followed his opening with a look back at prior planning processes and the educational challenges he believed the new plan should address. At the fore of his mind were challenges in K-12 education and the emerging threat of Massively Open Online Classes (MOOCs). He expressed that RIT needs to have a role in ensuring that there is a pipeline of qualified local applicants in the future and that RIT can offer value beyond what is possible with MOOCs.

Following Destler’s 20 minute presentation, the remaining time was used for a question-and-answer session, where he asked questions and audience members were invited to answer. With the first question, he asked each audience member what RIT’s biggest success has been since they were hired. Faculty and staff pointed to ImagineRIT as a great success, as well as efforts to make campus more beautiful. In addition, faculty expressed that there has been an increase in student and alumni pride.

The next question Destler asked was about conditions that led to RIT’s success. A common thread throughout the audience members’ answers was a focus on the students. In addition, it was mentioned that RIT’s strong financial health and growth have allowed it to move forward.

Overall, audience members seemed content with the forum and its direction. Kelly Redder, the assistant vice president of Alumni Relations, expressed particular interest in how Alumni would contribute to the next strategic plan. “One of the things that I am mostly concerned about is our ability to actually pull off the strategic plan without the assistance of our alumni association and our alumni population,” Redder said. “At 115,000 alumni out there, less than ten percent of them are engaged.”

Destler also thought the forum went well. “First of all, I think it was very successful and secondly, I actually was a little pessimistic going into it, about the extent to which we’d get participation from the audience…I was very reassured by the extent to which we did get numerous comments from the audience, and I think they were both germane and in many ways, very, very helpful,” he explained.

Since the forum, the Strategic Planning 2025 website has been created. The website features a video recording of the first open forum, as well as an online discussion for members of the RIT community.