Following are my remarks made at the Eisenhart Awards Banquet at RIT on Tuesday 25 September 2007.
Tuesday 25 September 2007 Rochester, NY — Thank you, Stan, and Joan, and thank you Mr. and Mrs. Eisenhart for your sustained generosity and support to RIT & the RIT community. I’m honored to accept this award that you have made possible.
Too frequently the educational experience — from a very young age — is about unlearning our inherent creative abilities and ambitions. We are trained at that early age to write on the line, to color between the lines, and to stand in line and to mitigate between societal expectation and our inborn desire to innovative.
I am a trained architect. It’s often curious to me that the public perception of architects is that they “build” houses. This stereotypical image is quite incorrect. Architects don’t “build” houses, builders “build” houses. Architects are trained to observe and to reexamine systems — construction systems, social systems, and economic systems, and to forecast the vector of these integrated systems on a scale that impacts our global community. In this way, architects work to forge new paths that ensure a better life for future generations.
My students and I spend a great deal of time examining the role of the designer — not simply as someone who does, but in a professional context, as someone who is able to understand the far-reaching and integrated “big picture”.
I’m tremendously fortunate to be a member of the faculty here at RIT. We’re in a unique position at RIT — not only because we attract some of the brightest young minds, but also because we are one of the very few schools that has the cross-disciplinary strengths needed to investigate, research, and ultimately to address issues that will ultimately improve the lives of millions of people. This squarely puts RIT, its faculty and staff, its students, and alumni, in a distinct “category of one”.
We have boldly entered the 21st century. Each day, I work with the generation of designers and thinkers — that will lead us to the 22nd century. These emerging leaders understand their charge: to design — responsibly — a better, sustainable, earth-friendly future for generations to come.
There’s a story about Jackie O. She was often spotted carrying with her a little black book. It was rumoured that she marked in this book notes about the people that particularly impressed her. When Jackie passed away in 1994, boxes of little black books were found in her Manhattan apartment, filled with the names of thousands of people who had helped her along the way.
While I’m no Jackie O., I do have a number of people to thank this evening. First, my partner, Dr. Daniel Hess who — on a daily basis — encourages me to be the best teacher, and the best researcher I can be. Also, my parents, who — though they are still somewhat unclear as to what I want to do when I “grow up” have steadfastly supported me throughout my life. My incredibly nurturing and supportive colleagues — this award is as much a reflection on all of you as it is on me — , Deborah, Roger, Bruce, Neil, Rose, Debbie, Jason, Lynn, Margie, Alfreda, Sandy (name others present) you each, in your own way, make RIT a splendid place to work. I’d also like to thank my chair, Patti Lachance for her continual support and encouragement, and Dean Joan Stone for her unwavering support and guidance.
Thanks most principally, to my students, a few of whom are here today, Maury, Ashley, Ryan, Tanvi, and Paul, make it possible for me to have such an exciting and rewarding career, and with which, I truly look forward to working with you each day.