WITR 89.7 has been bringing President Destler in for an interview every few months for years, but this past installment of Ask Destler was a special one. This edition, which aired April 26, marked the last time that Dr. Destler would come on air as President. It was special as well in that it was broadcast live from the Fireside Lounge rather than in the studio.

RIT’s President Destler with interviewer Eric Lee

The broadcast covered a number of topics aimed at capping off Dr. Destler’s tenure at RIT. The interview opened by discussing Imagine RIT, which of course has been one of Dr. Destler’s largest contributions to RIT. Imagine, which turning 10 years old this year, is expected to draw a crowd of nearly thirty thousand. Dr. Destler stated that there will be over 400 exhibits and expects excellent weather for the event, saying there had been “15 minutes” of rain for the event in the past decade. He also spoke about the President’s challenge, which carries the prize of $1000 or a Banjo from Dr. Destler’s private collection. Destler joked it was a particularly good banjo this year, having given away or sold all the “runts” of the collection.

The conversation continued with this theme of major campus events, moving on to RIT graduation. A major point of discussion was this year’s commencement speaker. RIT has hosted many esteemed speakers over the years – from the Director of the CIA and the CEO of Xerox to Bills both Clinton and Nye. This year will be Austin McChord, founder of Datto and RIT alumni. At 30 years old he will be, as Dr. Destler pointed out, RIT’s youngest commencement speaker.


One of the most interesting topics covered in the interview was how Dr. Destler came to RIT. As is turns out, and rather unsurprisingly I may add, what first brought him to Rochester was banjos. A few years before he was even under consideration for President of RIT, he came to Rochester with a trunk load of banjos to trade with a collector here in Rochester. He was unfamiliar with the Shortly after this, the RIT Presidential search committee reached out to him, bringing him back to Rochester permanently.


Dr. Destler also discussed his plans after leaving RIT. He plans to help Dr. Munson wherever he can, as Al Simone did back for him back in 2007. He also plans to remain on several startup boards he has become involved in, and hopes to be more active on these boards going forward. He also hopes to devote more time to his music, joking he “has to support himself somehow”.


At the end of this event, WITR presented a “Platinum Record” of Dr. Destler’s first album, September Sky. This record represents all of all the help Dr. Destler gave to the station in constructing their new studio space in the Student Alumni Union, as well as a way for one of RIT’s many student organizations to say farewell to a man who has been a friend to RIT for the last 10 years.

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