President William Destler is well known for his proliferance at certain subjects. He holds a PhD in electrical engineering from Cornell University, serves on the board of the National Institute of Aerospace Foundation and is widely recognized as a collector of antique banjos. Unbeknownst to many, however, Destler has recently ventured into the world of blogging. “I’ve always written pretty easily,” he said, when questioned about this new endeavor.
The Huffington Post editorial board approached Destler during the summer, in search of university presidents to contribute to their publication. “I think I am one of the few currently writing,” he remarked, adding that not many others chose to accept the offer. His first article, “The Case Against Selectable Science,” was published Monday, August 27, as a blog entry on the Huffington Post web page. Unhampered by deadlines for his pieces, Destler commented that his goal was to write at least one or two posts a month.
Destler’s dual roles as college president and Huffington Post contributor put him in a unique position. “I talked about it with [Chief Communications Officer] Bob Finnerty, our public relations guy, trying to decide ... whether it would be a good use of my time, whether it would be beneficial to RIT,” said Destler. “It’s a chance to contribute to the public discourse in what I hope will be a constructive way.”
The Huffington Post is reputed to lean towards liberalism, which concerns Destler. Regardless, his hope is to remain conscious of his role as RIT president while conveying opinions from a personal perspective.
“I don’t want to be political, in the sense that I don’t want to advocate for one particular party or candidate,” Destler said. “Frankly, I am representing RIT as much as I am representing myself.”
For his own news, Destler consults a variety of sources. He listed the Democrat and Chronicle, USA Today, a CNN online app and the Week Magazine, which he believes strive to quote both sides of controversial topics. He considers information veracity to be a prevalent issue in modern journalism. “We now have TV stations that are wholly owned by the various parties, and it’s kind of silly,” remarked Destler. “They’re parading as news organizations!” He emphasized the importance of accurate information, saying, “Our course is best set if we use the best available information at the time.”
Students and faculty alike may be interested in reading President Destler’s next and fourth piece, entitled “America’s Improving Economy as Seen From Academia.” This critical analysis of America’s recent reported economic upswing is due to be published soon. As he looked over his neatly stapled printout of the piece, Destler divulged who helps with his articles. “I always give a copy to my wife to review,” he said. “She is a tremendous editor!”
Visit President Destler's Huffington Post blog here