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M. Richard Rose - RITpedia

M. Richard Rose (born 1933) was the 7th President of Rochester Institute of Technology, serving from 1979 to 1992.

Early life and education

Rose was born in Fredonia, Pennsylvania in 1933. He completed an undergraduate degree in 1955 from Slippery Rock University and went on to complete a masters degree in counseling at Westminster College. During his time at Slippery Rock, he became a member of Alpha Phi Omega.[1]

After graduation, he served in the United States Marine Corps and as a teacher and guidance counselor in Lakeview, Pennsylvania.

He then went on to work as the associate professor of education and assistant provost for the University of Pittsburgh from 1962-1972. While there, he continued his education, completing a doctorate in higher education administration from the university.

He left Pittsburgh in 1972 to become a Deputy Assistant United States Secretary of Defense for Education of the Nixon Administration, a position he held for two years.[2]

Alfred University

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Presidency of RIT

Eisenhower College

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Central Intelligence Agency controversy

The latter half of President Rose's tenure was mired in controversy related to his involvement with the United States intelligence community.

In 1980, RIT created a for-profit organization called the RIT Research Corporation. The purpose of this new entity was to enable students and faculty to be legally contracted to work on proprietary research. While it was a separate legal entity, it was staffed and supported only by RIT.

In 1985, RIT signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Central Intelligence Agency. Amongst other provisions of the agreement, the CIA would help pay the salaries of faculty whose work tangibly benefited the CIA and RIT would establish courses in the areas of electro-optics, computer science, artificial intelligence and digital image processing.

Rose solicited input from RIT alumnus and 25-year CIA employee Robert Kohler about who to appoint to direct the Center for Imaging Science. While Rose did not act on Kohler's suggestions, he doid appoint Kohler himself to the CIS advisory board later in the year.

The following year in May 1986, Rose and about 30 other faculty and administrators received security clearance from the CIA.

Two years later in 1988, Kohler was appointed to the Board of Trustees. Kohler was replaced on the CIS advisory board by Keith Hazard, another CIA employee. Rose and his executive assistant Andrew Dougherty began developing a program to screen, recruit and train RIT students with the goal of bringing them into the CIA's employment. The program, called the National Intelligence Technical Support Program (NITSP) is housed at the RIT Research Corporation in an office complex on John Street.

In 1990, the RIT Research Corporation for the first time makes a profit, having received $855,000 in research funding from the CIA.

On February 7, 1991, Rose announced he would be leaving RIT for four months for a confidential assignment. Due to the ongoing Gulf War, most assume that it is related to the war. Indeed, he specifically implied thus, telling Reporter, "When so many young men and women are making personal sacrifices on behalf of their country, the very least I can do is serve in an area that maximizes my military, educational, and management experience."[3] Thomas Plough, RIT's provost, became acting President of the university.

In April when details of the nature of Rose's assignment came to light, the controversy came to a head. The Rochester Times-Union reported that Rose's assignment brought him to Langley, Virginia and the CIA, not active military service based on an interview with him. Many faculty and students felt betrayed, that Rose went to work for the CIA rather than continuing to serve as president of RIT. The CIA claimed that they did not actively try to recruit Rose; he expressed interest in taking a sabbatical from RIT, and the CIA determined that his credentials fit with an assignment they were looking to fill.

A group of 50 students and faculty began a call for Rose's resignation. Student Government initially distanced itself from the group, but later walked back slightly, specifying it did not seek Rose's resignation "at this time." Tom Gosnell, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees informed the community that the Board of Trustees had no intention of firing President Rose or ending the university's relationship with the CIA.

Shortly after 1991's graduation festivities, Rose insisted that the CIA did not have any influence on any RIT academic program.


  1. Alpha Phi Omega. (1994). "National Distinguished Service Key Recipients". [1]
  2. Herrick Memorial Library. "M. Richard Rose". Alfred University. [2]
  3. Jean A. Douthwright. (1991). "Rochester Institute of Technology: A CIA Subsidiary?". Covert Action Information Bulletin. [3]

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