Welcome to RIT's 175th Anniversary website. The University celebrated the anniversary during the 2004-05 academic year. This website is no longer active and will no longer be updated. The site remains active, however, to preserve the history of both RIT and the anniversary year.

Celebrating 175 Years
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  1829 Colonel Nathaniel Rochester and other Rochester community leaders found the Athenaeum, an association “for the purpose of cultivating and promoting literature, science and the arts.” The Athenaeum was located in the Reynolds Arcade, and housed a meeting room and a small reading room with a library, provided by Abelard Reynolds. The Rochester Athenaeum grew into a popular cultural center for Rochesterians, offering public lectures and debates, and building a substantial library.
  1847 The Athenaeum merged with the Mechanics Literary Association, founded in 1836 by William A. Reynolds (son of Abelard Reynolds), to form the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Association. It continued the tradition of public lectures, book reviews and debates. The libraries of the two groups merged, and boasted a collection of 7000-8000 volumes on a variety of subjects. Lectures were held at Corinthian Hall, which could hold 1,100. Distinguished speakers included Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Frederick Douglass.

Mechanics Institute founded. Captain Henry Lomb, Max Lowenthal, Ezra Andrews, Frank Ritter, William Peck, and other Rochester businessmen and influential citizens start a school to provide needed technical training for skilled workers in industry. Lomb was the first president of the Board of Trustees and guided the direction of the institute until his death in 1908. Eugene Colby was appointed first teacher and principal of the Mechanics Institute. All funds for running the school were donated by the citizens of Rochester and instruction was free for the first year.

The first class at the newly formed Mechanics Institute was mechanical drawing, held in the evening November 23, 1885. The community response is overwhelming, and 400 students enrolled in school.

  1886 Fine Arts classes start. Included are freehand drawing, architectural drawing, and design.
  1886 Tuition is $ 8 a term for drawing, $12 for painting and modeling. Evening classes are free.
  1891 Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute merge, bringing under one roof cultural education and practical technical training. Enrollment reaches 1,000 students.
  1893 Cooking classes begin March 1893. The course consisted of 26 lessons in practical cookery.

Manual Training Building is the first official building erected by the Institute. It later became known as the Eastman Annex. The building contained machine shops, classrooms, and a lecture hall.

Manual Training Department created, with classes in joinery and bench and later pattern making and forging.

  1901 Opening of the Eastman Building on Plymouth Avenue and the Erie Canal Aqueduct. George Eastman donated the funds for this building and was an active benefactor of the Institute until his death in 1932.

School divided into 5 departments:

  • Industrial Arts – Eugene Colby, Superintendent
  • Mechanic Arts and Sciences – language, mathematics, science, Roland Woodward, Superintendent
  • Manual Training – 3 members of board would supervise: James E. Gleason, Frank A. Brownell, Henry Lomb
  • Domestic Science and Art – Mary Bliss, Superintendent
  • Department of Fine Arts – direction of Bevier Memorial Committee: Adelbert Cronise, Dr. E.V. Stoddard, Harold C. Kimball, Lewis P. Ross, Charles H. Wiltsie

3,000 students enrolled.

  1909 First student publication The Institute Breeze published. Cover design and drawings by students in the Fine Arts Department.
  1910 First president Carleton B. Gibson appointed. He served until 1916.
  1912 Cooperative education program started by President Gibson. Students find positions in industry and gain valuable practical work experience before they graduate. At the time students worked in stores, factories, restaurants, and hospital kitchens.

Alumni association formed. Group numbers 200 graduates of the institute.

Publication of Ramikin the student yearbook began.

  1916 James F. Barker appointed President. He served until 1919.
  1919 Royal B. Farnum appointed President. He served until 1921.
  1922 John A. Randall appointed president. He served until 1936.
  1923 Four-year cooperative retail distribution program started.
  1926 course in industrial chemistry started.

Department of Photography founded. Frederick Brehm is Instructor. He is later joined by C.B. Neblette.

2,210 students enrolled.

  1936 Mark Ellingson appointed President. He served until 1969.
  1937 Empire state School of Printing, now the School of Print Media, acquired through the efforts of Frank Gannett.
  1940 Classes offered all day and all night to train thousands for jobs in the defense industry.

4,565 students enrolled.


Institute’s Evening School open to women to assist in war effort.

Counseling Center established to provide personal and career counseling to students.

  1944 Institute adopted the name Rochester Institute of Technology.
  1950 Graphic Arts Research Center established to “apply scientific and engineering principles to the printing and publishing industry.” RIT is a center of research on all aspects of the graphic arts.

School for American Craftsmen, now called School for American Crafts, founded by Mrs. Vanderbilt Webb, moved to RIT.

Student enrollment is 4,376.

First technical school to offer an associates degree in Applied Science in New York State.

  1952 Acquired the McKechnie-Lunger School of Commerce in Rochester which later becomes the College of Business.
  1955 First Bachelor of Science degree awarded.
  1960 First masters degree awarded (all Master of Fine Arts degrees).

Student enrollment 8,546.

Edwina Hogadone appointed first Dean of the College of Business. Starting at RIT as teacher of salesmanship, personnel, and merchandising in 1931, she is the first woman dean at RIT and first woman in the nation named to head a college of business.

RIT is organized into six Colleges – The College of Applied Science, College of Business, the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the College of Graphic Arts and Photography, College of General Studies (renamed Liberal Arts in 1968) and Evening Studies.

  1961 Institute makes the decision to move from downtown Rochester to a new location – land in Henrietta purchased and construction begins in 1964.
  1963 College of Science is established.
  1965 First Outstanding Teacher Award – to recognize and encourage excellence in teaching at RIT In 1974 the name was changed to the Eisenhart Awards for outstanding teaching.
  1966 RIT chosen as the home campus for the federally sponsored National Technical Institute for the Deaf which had been established in 1963 by Public Law 89-36 and signed by President Johnson. In a national report the institute’s long history of technical education, co-op education, and emphasis on career preparation were cited as the reasons for the choice.
  1967 Formation of the Nathaniel Rochester Society, to formalize and encourage a closer relationship between RIT and members of the community.
  1968 Move to new campus in Henrietta. Dedication takes place Homecoming Weekend October 1968.

First freshman class enters NTID.

  1969 Dr. Paul Miller appointed President. He served until 1979.
  1970 Enrollment at 10,941.
  1971 RIT offers graduate engineering coursework via closed-circuit TV at local factories.

College of Engineering established.

  1972 Criminal Justice program announced. Emphasis of program will be on prevention and rehabilitation.

School of Computer Science and Technology started.

  1974 NTID complex is dedicated.
  1978 new B.S. in biomedical computing.

RIT Distance Learning program created.

Dr. Richard Rose appointed – RIT President 1979- 1992.

150th anniversary celebration and conclusion of the 150th Anniversary Fund capital campaign which topped the $42 million goal. Entertainer Bob Hope visits to RIT and joins the celebration.

Eisenhower College acquired by RIT.

RIT continues to expand with many new departments and programs through the end of the seventies including the Dept. of Packaging Science, and Dept. of Instructional Technology. Newly offered Master degrees in clinical chemistry, computer and information science, and glass art expanded advanced degree offerings. New Bachelor of Science programs in Biomedical communications and nuclear medicine as well as an associate degree program in clinical technology were also established.

  1980 Formation of the RIT Research Corporation to provide opportunities for collaborative projects with industry and government in imaging and information processing.

Enrollment at 15,704 (Includes Eisenhower College).

  1982 RIT installs a campus-wide computer network with 300 “intelligent” terminals.

Microelectronic Engineering program begins. First undergraduate program in the field in the U.S.

  1983 Program in Biotechnology begins.
  1986 Center for Microelectronic and Computer Engineering dedicated . Facility to serve as a center for undergraduate education and research in the design and fabrication of integrated circuits.
  1987 Rochester Athenaeum founded to provide educational and enrichment programs for individuals over 50.
  1989 International Center of Hearing and Speech Research opened to conduct research on the prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of people with hearing loss.

Program in telecommunications engineering technology started. It was the first bachelor of science program in the United States accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (TAC-ABET) in telecommunications engineering technology.

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science dedicated. The building houses the new program in imaging science.

Bausch & Lomb Center dedicated. Bausch & Lomb provided funding for the building as part of RIT’s Access to the Future capital campaign.

RIT sponsors the United States Business School in Prague, with a program leading to an M.B.A degree, for students in the Czech Republic and other Central and Eastern European countries.

  1990 Enrollment at 13,195.

Imaging Science Ph.D. Program begins. First PhD. program at RIT and first such program in the U.S.

  1991 RIT offers full degree programs on-line.

Hale-Andrews Student Life Center completed.

Commission on Cultural Diversity (now called the Commission for Promoting Pluralism) established. The goals of the commission include articulating an institutional commitment to a pluralistic campus environment and promoting diversity as an institutional value.

  1992 Eighth President, Albert Simone appointed.

B.S. in Information Technology program started. The training emphasizes understanding technology from the point of view of the user.

  1993 Creation of Women’s Resource Center.
  1995 Margaret’s House dedicated, an expanded child care center serving members of the RIT community. Al Davis, vice president emeritus and long-time supporter of RIT gave the funds in memory of his wife Margaret Welcher Davis.
  1996 Undergraduate program in software engineering established, the first in the U.S.

College of Engineering announces the Kate Gleason Scholarship for women. Kate Gleason donated $ 300,000 to the Institute in 1933, and the family has continued to generously support RIT until the present, including a very large gift from James and Janis Gleason on behalf of the Gleason Foundation in 1998 to support College of Engineering programs.

  1997 The Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies, created with $ 20.75 million in Federal and State funding, opens with a mission to increase the competitiveness of manufacturers through technology solutions and training.

The American College of Management and Technology opened in Dubrovnik, Republic of Croatia, a collaborative effort between RIT College of Applied Science and Technology and Velecillste Dubovnikú, the Polytechnic of Dubrovnik.

  1998 College of Engineering named for Kate Gleason.

Announcement of First in Class, an initiative to invest in areas of strength that will result in RIT “being the university of choice” through partnerships with industry and government.

Dedication of the Center for Excellence in Mathematics, Science and Technology built with funds raised to meet a challenge gift established by Thomas Gosnell. This major addition to the College of Science features the Bruce and Nora James Atrium with its polished granite floor by artist Larry Kirkland, etched with symbols representing milestones in the history of science.

Fiber optic cable network installed in all academic buildings on campus providing campus Ethernet connection.

  2000 Enrollment at 14,642.
  2001 B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences formed with programs in Computer Science, Information Technology, Software Engineering.

Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center opens. The gallery hosts traveling exhibits and features NTID's permanent collection of works by deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing artists.

New M.S. program in communication and media technology, an interdisciplinary program in the social sciences, humanities and applied technologies. Builds on RIT strengths in liberal arts, digital media and publishing, information technology, and e-business.

RIT designated as a New York State Strategically Targeted Academic Research (STAR) Center as part of a state initiative to promote high technology businesses in New York.

IT Collaboratory formed, a state funded joint project with University of Buffalo and Alfred University. The center will focus on four areas of research: microsystems, photonic systems, remote systems, and high-bandwidth telecom networks. It will also investigate new technologies not yet in use, serve as a test bed for new-product development and product enhancement, and take part in collaborative research with industry as well as provide training programs contributing to economic development in Western New York.

  2002 A web-based course management system, myCourses offered. Instructors can post information and files for a course to the class website, as well as utilize e-mail lists, discussion boards and live chat rooms.

New B.S. and M.S. program in Bioinformatics that merges biotechnology and information technology.

RIT opened the North Star Center for Academic Success and Cultural Affairs. The center serves as a source of guidance for the recruitment, retention and graduation of RIT’s AALANA student population.

Ph.D. program in microsystems engineering started, the first in the country, and part of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering.

  2003 New Master’s of Science in Telecommunication Engineering Technology offered.

RIT Sports Zone debuted on ESPN2. The student-produced program highlights athletics at RIT with individual profiles and in-depth features.

Heidelberg Bruckmaschinen AG installs its most advanced commercial web press, called "Sunday 2000," on campus in the newly dedicated Heidelberg Web Press Laboratory. The press will be used for research and education in RIT School of Print Media.

The Sentinel, a 70 foot 110 ton steel sculpture by Albert Paley dedicated. The sculpture is located in a central location on campus, to serve as focal point at the main entrance of the campus.

The College of Applied Science and Technology established a new program in Kosovo in collaboration with the American University Foundation in Kosovo. Students pursue coursework in various subjects, including service management, business development, economics, and marketing.

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