The night before commencement, we held a hooding ceremony for our masters degree candidates–a traditional ritual that recognizes the successful completion of their studies. This was the first time we actually conducted this ceremony separate from the larger commencement ceremony–and it gave us the opportunity to celebrate our graduate students specifically and all they mean to FIT.
It also made me reflect. It has been 35 years since we succeeded in persuading legislators in Albany to amend the state education law so that we could offer master’s programs. This was an amazing accomplishment. After all, in 1979, the world was not yet “global.” The technological revolution was barely an embryo. But FIT–always forward-thinking, always prescient–nevertheless saw how rapidly the world was changing. We knew that for the industries we served, we would need a platform from which to provide the kind of advanced education that the future demanded. Still, how many community colleges–then, and even today–offered bachelor’s degrees, much less masters degrees? It was not an easy sell in Albany.
Fortunately, the strong convictions of FIT’s representatives and supporters prevailed and today our graduate school is one of our curricular gems–a small hothouse of scholarship, creativity and illumination. It houses seven specialized programs that are often pioneering and unique–programs that cannot be found anywhere else in the country or the world. The school has earned an international reputation for advancing the fields of art, communication, design, fashion, business and marketing and our successful graduates can be found in museums as curators or conservators and in international beauty or fashion corporations as high-level managers. They are sought-after illustrators, artists, exhibit designers, sustainable interior environment or art market specialists. And we were very proud to be able to recognize our masters degree candidates with this very special ceremony.