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 This website is no longer active and will no longer be updated.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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College of Liberal Arts Timeline
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Founding of the Athenaeum.
The Young Men’s Association, founded in 1837 and merged with the Athenaeum in 1838, listed on its schedule of lectures the following topics: American history, human physiology, the phenomenon of chemistry, architecture, ancient empires, Scottish history, “Geology as illustrative of Natural Theology,” and political economy.

The Athenaeum merged with the Mechanics Literary Association to become the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Association. Speakers included Oliver Wendell Homes, James Russell Lowell, and Ralph Waldo Emerson as well as scientific lectures and demonstrations.

The Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Association merged with the Mechanics Institute, founded in 1885, to form the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute.
  1901 the Institute published a small booklet to advertise a new class in the teaching of English. The goal of the class was “to teach the pupils. . . not only to have an idea, but be able to express that idea in correct, clear, forcible English.”
  1901– 1917 Formal courses in the humanities and social science appeared early in the Institute’s curriculum. Prior to the First World War courses were offered in English, sociology, psychology, history of education, public speaking, educational sociology, and pedagogy.
Calvin Thomason appointed supervisor of the Liberal Studies Component of the curriculum to direct the development of liberal arts courses for student in the industrial arts. There were four courses taught in the Liberal Arts Component: economics, psychology, management, and human relations.
Mark Ellingson, later president of the Institute, hired to assist Calvin Thomason.

Calvin Thomason retires.

College of General Studies formed, and Dr. James Wilson appointed first dean.
Dr. Paul Bernstein appointed Dean of the College of General Studies.


  1971 Social Work Degree begins.
  1972 Curriculum Revision undertaken.
  1972 Criminal Justice Degree program begins.
Academic Year -- College of General Studies faculty numbers sixty.

Caroline Warner Gannett Professorship in the Humanities established.

  1977 Professor Dane Gordon appointed Acting Dean, Dr. Paul Bernstein appointed Graduate Dean.
  1978 Dr. Mary Sullivan appointed Dean of the College of General Studies.
College of General Studies engages in a major curriculum revision, with new curriculum implemented in 1981. Humanities and Social Science courses (Liberal Arts Curriculum) consist of 54 hours for the majority of RIT undergraduate programs. Upper division concentrations introduced.
  1981 Technical Liberal Studies Option (now called the RIT Exploration Program) established for students who had not decided on a RIT major.
College of General Studies renamed the College of Liberal Arts.
  1984 Economics degree established.
Professional and Technical Communication degree established.
Graduate School Psychology degree established, the College’s first graduate degree.

Dean Mary Sullivan resigns to return to teaching. Dr. Stanley McKenzie named Acting Dean.

  1988 Dr. William J. Daniels, from Union College, named Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
  1988 Gosnell Professorship in Economics established.
  1989 Ezra Hale Professorship in Ethics established.
Curriculum Review began.
  1997 Psychology degree established.
  1998 Dean William J. Daniels resigns to return to teaching. Dr. Diane Hope named Interim Dean.
  1999 Minors introduced.
  1999 Dr. Andrew M. T. Moore, Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Yale University, assumes Deanship of Liberal Arts.
  2000 Dean’s office area and Student Services area remodeled.
  2001 Communication & Media Technologies, graduate degree in Communication established.
  2001 Public Policy bachelor and master degrees established.
  2001 Review of curriculum begins.
Academic year -- The College of Liberal Arts faculty reaches 136 members.
  2003 Foreign Language Technology Center established.

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