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RTI Stories

RTI's Third President: Victoria Franchetti Haynes

"This is a research-based organization, and deep down I’m a scientist"

In 1998, Thomas Wooten announced his plan to retire as RTI's president, after nearly a decade at the helm. Wooten's agenda at RTI had picked up exactly where his predecessor, George R. Herbert, had left off. Under his leadership, the Institute had increased its scientific stature, its corporate resources, and its array of projects, which grew more scientifically diverse across numerous disciplines. Wooten had also steered RTI through yet another wrenching change in federal priorities for research.

Searching for Wooten's successor, RTI's board of governors found what it was looking for in Victoria Franchetti Haynes, an experienced scientist and administrator with a strong research background and sharp business skills. Haynes, a chemist, was the chief technical officer and vice president of the technology group at aerospace and specialty chemicals company BFGoodrich. She understood the need to spur RTI's revenue growth, shaking up the status quo while nurturing what was best about the organization.

As board member Bill Little explained, "other research institutes had become more international, had grown through acquisitions, were commercializing their intellectual property and finding new sources of commercial revenue. We needed a leader who could put us on that path, someone with keen business instincts." "She had a strategic vision, energy, and charisma, and she understood research and the need to commercialize RTI's intellectual property," board member Phail Wynn agreed. "She also had real solid industry ties and a strong business background."

What finally convinced Haynes to take the post, she later said, was RTI's mission of improving the human condition. "It just resonated well with who I am. This is a research-based organization, and deep down I’m a scientist. I also was attracted by the multidisciplinary depth of the institute–researchers in more than 125 disciplines– and began thinking about how to pull them together to attack very large issues and problems that are global in nature."