Rochester Institute of Technology’s “Print School” No Longer Includes The Word “Print”

Written By Joel Basa
eMarketing Manager
Xerox Corporation

My alma mater, the Rochester Institute of Technology, recently announced it has changed the name of its “School of Print Media” to the “School of Media Sciences.” The word “Print” is no longer included. As a university that has seen many of its Alumni become leaders in the Graphic Communications and Print Industry, I think this is a key indication of the transforming nature of the industry.
The name change is just not on the surface. According to RIT’s Chris Bondy, “This new, strategic shift will leverage our respected and historic foundation in print media to incorporate a ‘print-plus’ approach, that includes insights and understanding in the areas of the Web, mobile and social media, complementing the precision and technical understanding of the printing industry.”
The phrase ‘Print-Plus” is the critical term here. The focus is no longer a single printed communication vehicle. Content and data are shared through various channels now and “Printers” have become “Architects” of how data is disseminated to its target audience.
I personally agree that this was a needed change for RIT. It is important that educational institutes that shape the leaders of the print industry (or should I say media industry) shift their curriculums. What are your thoughts on this?

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  1. Joe Schember August 7, 2012 -

    Hey Joel,

    Nice write up. I saw this announcement and had a similar reaction. The school seems like it’s been in constant flux lately to keep up with shifts in the market. I even remember program changes while I was still an undergrad.

    I’m interested in seeing what this means for the students graduating as employers assess their broadened skill set. Having the ability to manage and distribute content across multiple channels is definitely an asset.

    On the flip side, I hope this shift doesn’t generalize the major. RIT has arguably the best ‘printing’ program in the world and graduates in that specialty seem highly sought after.

    Congrats, RIT!


    • Joel Basa August 7, 2012 -

      Hey Joe,

      I agree. I’m excited to see how the changes in curriculum shape the graduates coming out of this highly-acclaimed program. However, I am nervous that just like the name, traditional “print” is taken out of the picture and like you said the major becomes generalized.

      I must credit RIT for constantly adjusting its programs based on the needs of the industry, not just print, but also IT. As a self-proclaimed geek turned marketer, I am also glad to see changes in the IT program.

      RIT, keep up the great work!


      (Xerox Employee)

  2. Noel Ward August 7, 2012 -

    Good work here.
    It’s a sign of the times, and further proof that print is only one form of modern communications. It is wonderful to see RIT take the lead in changing the name of the school to reflect the realities of 21st century media. I have no doubt that RIT will continue to produce graduates whol have a fine understanding of the evolving mix of modern media.

    • Joel Basa August 7, 2012 -

      Thanks Noel! I agree RIT will continue to produce quality graduates in this discipline. I’d like RIT to be sure that “print” is not diluted too much in the overall curriculum.


  3. Paul Butterfield August 7, 2012 -

    I have my grad degree from RIT in “Print”. I’m delighted that they’re formally incorporating an emphasis on new technology, but I’d argue they have always been forward thinking; early to embrace HTML, cross-media, etc. The risk with the change in name and philosophy is that they lose their way and become too broad morphing into “Communications” or “IT”. There will continue to be an need for expertise in “print” even when it isn’t marks on paper. I hope RIT doesn’t lose that competency.

    (Xerox Employee)

  4. Bob Wagner August 8, 2012 -

    Well played, RIT. Go, Tigers! As in business, it’s about changing, growing and moving forward. As Xerox CEO Ursula Burns tells us, “If you’re not changing, you’re falling behind. If you’re doing the same things you were doing three years ago, then you’re not evolving.” That is, you’re not staying relevant as the world around you evolves. Best wishes to Chris Bondy and team. (Xerox Employee; RIT MBA, ’93; and former adjunct instructor in the “old” RIT School of Print Media)

  5. Joe Shimanek, Jr August 8, 2012 -

    As a student at RIT in the early 90’s I was constantly asked by surprised people when I told them I am studying “Printing Management” and they’d typically reply, “There’s a major for that?” I’d call on their own experience to remind them of the amount of printed materials they’d come into contact daily. The grocery store being one of the best examples of printing in action then and still is today. However, I’m not too upset to see that the word PRINT has disappeared, like so many of the smaller printing companies that once made up the bulk of the offset industry, from the degree title. It seems that when most people talked about printing and printing management as a career, they were thinking along the lines of commercial printers who produced stationery, marketing materials and other generic ink-on-paper products. The marketplace was thriving and could handle leaders who specialized in only one discipline of the communications model. It seems now the leaders that RIT is preparing for careers in Communications need to be multi-disciplinary experts and traditional print is only a small part of that model.

    It is interesting to look back and realize the Vax, for us older folks, lol, was an early form email, instant messaging and texting and the computers we had access to in the RIT Library had monitors riddled with burn-in from the main menu constantly glowing amber. Similarly, one evening at our Gamma Epsilon Tau business meeting, Professor Frank Romano showed us a promotional video, narrated by Tom Selleck, which explained the future of technological advances coming over coaxial cable/fiber optics, including movies on demand and other online services that were being developed. So even then, at least the faculty was preparing us for this.

    Those who decide to embrace change and realize there is no status quo are best prepared for what lies ahead and change is the only constant. Even though I’ve moved on from this industry, I still have a fondness for the craftsmen who came before us and the dynamic idea people who got us to where we are today. Thanks for writing your article.

    • Joel Basa August 9, 2012 -

      Hi Joe, well put and thanks for the feedback. I agree, RIT has done a great job adjusting its curriculum with changing times. Although I was an Information Technology Major, I saw the constant change of curriculum as I was part of the first “batch” of graduates from that program. I look at the current curriculum and its changed significantly, almost not fast enough especially in IT. Print is no different in my opinion.

      By the way, I still recall the the days of Vax!


  6. Don Carli August 9, 2012 -

    One wonders what choices the school considered and rejected or failed to consider.

    The “Status Quo” has become “Status Flux” and the future of media is in the mix, but the future of print may be in printed electronics and 3D printed products… and not in “media” at all.

    Time will tell if the RIT School of Media Sciences did their homework when it comes to marketing branding and positioning science.

  7. Erika Rocha August 15, 2012 -

    Hi Joel,

    great piece! I’m right on board with the name change. Most folks these days see print as a dying art. Although we know that’s far from true, perception is everything. Many of my peers were a bit upset about it, expressing the opinion “we came here to study print, not ‘media arts.'” But in today’s world, I really think they’re one in the same unless you’re strictly going to be running a press. RIT definitely added the changes to the curriculum prior to the name change with classes like Web Foundations, but with it I’m sure we’ll get much more deserved attention as leaders in the graphic communications industry.

    • Joel Basa August 15, 2012 -

      Erika, great to hear from a current student in the program. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’ll be interesting to revisit “Print” in the “Media Sciences” school say in 5-7 years. I wonder how big “Print” will be in the curriculum? I personally feel it’s very important that educational institutes such as RIT continue to educate on the importance of print. That will feed the workforce of the GC Industry and create leaders for the future.

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