Dr. Destler became President of Rochester Institute of Technology on July 1, 2007. He is the ninth President in the university’s 178-year history. He was formerly senior Vice President for academic affairs and provost of the University of Maryland at College Park.
At RIT, Dr. Destler is responsible for one of the nation's leading career-oriented universities with 16,450-students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries, 2,800 faculty and staff, an annual operating budget of more than $492 million, and an endowment of more than $600 million. The university has one of the oldest and largest cooperative education programs in the country.
Dr. Destler serves on the American Council on Education’s Commission on Effective Leadership and is a board member for the National Institute of Aerospace Foundation. He is a member of the board of directors for New York’s Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. He also serves on community boards in Rochester: Rochester General Health System, Greater Rochester Enterprise, Rochester Business Alliance, Golisano Family Foundation and High Tech of Rochester, and CurAegis Technologies Inc.
Prior to RIT, Dr. Destler spent more than 30 years at the University of Maryland, rising from the ranks of research associate and assistant professor of electrical engineering to Senior Vice President and Provost. At Maryland, he also served as Electrical Engineering Department Chair, Dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, Interim Vice President for University Advancement, Vice President for Research, and Dean of the Graduate School.
As engineering school dean, Dr. Destler created the Gemstone Program, a multidisciplinary four-year research program for undergraduate honors students of all majors in which teams of students design, direct and conduct research exploring the interdependence of science and technology with society. During his term as Graduate School Dean, student applications increased by more than 20 percent and research funding rose by more than 30 percent. While Interim Vice President for Advancement, Dr. Destler was credited with securing a $25 million gift from Comcast Corporation for naming rights supporting the construction of the Comcast Center sports arena. As Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, retention increased and the graduation rate rose from 62 percent to 80 percent over five years.
Other achievements at Maryland include leading a faculty team in the creation of a cross-disciplinary master’s degree program in telecommunications; originating the Hinman CEOs Program, a living-learning entrepreneurship initiative for undergraduate students; and involvement in the President’s Promise, an outside-the-classroom experiential program for freshmen.
Dr. Destler is an international authority on high-power microwave sources and advanced accelerator concepts. He is best known for his pioneering work in the collective acceleration of heavy ions, achieving the highest energies to date by this method, and for his development of large orbit microwave devices, including large orbit gyrotrons and rotating beam free electron lasers. He has consulted for government agencies and private firms, received more than $40 million in grants and contracts, published more than 200 journal articles and book chapters, and presented many papers. Dr. Destler has also directed 18 master’s and doctoral student theses and earned awards for his teaching.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Stevens Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. Both degrees were in the field of applied physics.