It was July of 2002 when Dr. Jorge Díaz-Herrera first stepped onto RIT soil. He had just moved from the Southern Polytechnic State University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he had served four years as the chair of Computer Science. While this was only the third time he had been on campus, Díaz-Herrera was here to stay. After a year-long search and a grueling interview process, the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences finally found its dean.
When he first arrived, the first thing on Díaz-Herrera’s to-do list was to meet every single member of the college’s faculty and staff. With 90 employees spread all over campus — the building that houses the college was not completed until 2003 — this was no easy feat. The task took six months to complete, but Díaz-Herrera felt that it was important. “It was a good way to get to know the campus,” he added.
Nine years later, GCCIS is celebrating its 10th anniversary and Díaz-Herrera is preparing to swap his deanship for a college presidency.
As GCCIS dean, Díaz-Herrera has seen many changes within the college. The number of faculty publications has increased nearly ten-fold; the college has become the largest at RIT; and it now takes pride in a Ph.D. program, which is one particular accomplishment that Díaz-Herrera takes pride in.
“The development of the college has been tremendous ... in such a short amount of time,” said Díaz-Herrera.
However, Díaz-Herrera still believes that there is room for improvement, particularly with collaboration. He would like to see more projects that cross departmental structures. He believes that there should be more jointly sponsored and supported programs between different faculties. For Díaz-Herrera, “Interdisciplinary is the name of the game.”
Díaz-Herrera would also like to see an increase in women enrollment. Currently, only 7 percent of students at GCCIS are female, but Díaz-Herrera admits he still hasn’t figured out how to increase that number.
On September 10, 2010, Díaz-Herrera announced that he would be stepping down as dean. “I don’t believe you want to overstay your welcome in a position of leadership,” said Díaz-Herrera. Eventually, people will be unable to appreciate your ideas, he said.
Initially, Díaz-Herrera had planned on taking a year of sabbatical effective July 1, 2011. During this break, he planned on spending time at research facilities at Carnegie Mellon University, and in Germany and Turkey. However, his plans changed when a headhunter asked if he would be interested in becoming president of Keuka College.
Díaz-Herrera will be retiring on June 30. RIT is currently searching for his replacement.