NTID’s Rosica Hall officially opens on campus

Building serves as a hub for innovation, research

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Sebastian and Lenore Rosica

The newest structure on the RIT campus, Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall, is devoted to innovation and research for students, faculty and staff of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and RIT. The $8 million, two-story, 23,000-square-foot building officially opens Oct. 11, although offices were filling this summer. 

The design of the building was done with the intention to make it deaf-friendly, incorporating a maximum use of 
natural light, open line-of-sight paths, safety features such as strobe lights, and minimalizing vibrations from the building’s air conditioning and heating units. Philip Rubin, a former RIT/NTID student and architect in Palm Springs, Calif., gave recommendations prior to construction.

“We wanted to have deaf eyes on the building project from the beginning,” says NTID Dean Emeritus Jim DeCaro, who conceived the need for Rosica Hall when 
he was interim president of NTID. When Gerry Buckley 
became president, DeCaro was assigned to represent 
the office of the president in the design, development and 
execution of the building.

“Rosica Hall is basically a sandbox where center-based research can take place,” says Buckley. “It will be the hub for important work that will benefit generations of deaf 
and hard-of-hearing people, and I couldn’t be more 
delighted that this dream has become a reality.” 

Some space has intentionally not been filled yet to 
make room for future research projects. But research 
centers and labs already active in the building include:

  • DeafTEC, formed in 2011 with a National Science Foundation grant to create a National Center of Excellence as a resource for schools around the 
country that educate students in science, technology, 
engineering and math.

  • The Research Center for Teaching and Learning, where 
diverse teams of faculty and students conduct research that will improve deaf education, expose students to 
research practice and prepare a future generation of 
RIT/NTID educational researchers and scholars. 

  • Research on Employment and Adapting to 
Change Center for Studies on Career Success, 
which studies employment and career success 
for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

  • The Deaf Studies Laboratory, which studies 
the cognitive, language and psychosocial aspects 
of the deaf experience and provides structured 
mentoring experiences for future deaf scientists.

The second floor of the building houses the 
Imaginarium, where faculty and students will 
gather to develop creative and innovative ideas. 

A meditation garden is on the first floor, with 
native plants that provides a common area where 
people can sit and think in peace.

And Rosica Hall will be full of artwork, some 
commissioned specifically for the building and 
others from the permanent NTID collection of 
works by deaf artists.

Among the new artwork:

  • Finding the Rosicas, a large portrait of 
Sebastian and Lenore Rosica using more than 600 
Rosica family photographs from the past 90 years, 
created by RIT/NTID alumnus Leon Lim. The family photographs represent the life of Sebastian and 
Lenore from their childhood through retirement. 

  • Imagination, by RIT/NTID faculty member Jacqueline Schertz, who created this design to 
represent the emergence of a kernel of an idea 
that spreads into something much larger, much 
like the students and faculty collaborating on 
research in the building. 

  • The Three Sisters, by Gary Mayers, made of 
stainless steel to hang from the lobby beacon, representing the Iroquois Confederation’s “three sisters” that nourish the people: corn, squash and beans. In turn, 
The Three Sisters represent innovation, imagination 
and integrity within Rosica Hall.

  • Metamorphosis, by Scott Grove, represents the 
career development of an individual from student to 
professional. Three monoliths of blue stone, mined in New York, have perfectly aligned openings representing the core of humanity around which a life is built and 
the limitless potential of an RIT graduate.

  • Coded Spectrum, by Leo Villareal and purchased with a grant from Sprint Relay and a donation from DeCaro and his wife, Patricia Mudgett-DeCaro, is found on the walkway to the Dining Commons. It is a 5-foot-7-inch by 2-foot-5-inch panel of light-emitting diodes that changes color.

Mark Rosica, chair of NTID’s Counseling and Academic Advising Services and a son of Sebastian and Lenore Rosica, says he is excited for the research and future discoveries that will happen in Rosica Hall.

“It’s thrilling for all of us who knew and loved my parents to have this wonderful opportunity to honor their values of hard work and recognition of the need for quality higher education,” he says. “The building was specially designed to enhance the learning and discovery of our deaf and hard-of-hearing students and is an outstanding facility that will help to level the playing field by providing a variety of research opportunities for our students.”

  • Sebastian and Lenore Rosica lived most of their 
lives in the Buffalo area. Sebastian worked as an 
audiologist for 40 years at St. Mary’s School for 
the Deaf there and Lenore worked as a speech 
pathologist. They inspired others with their passion about new technology, education and deafness, and made connections with deaf and hard-of-hearing people in all walks of life, their family says.

  • Two of their six children, Mark and Dan Rosica, 
work at RIT. 

  • Lenore’s brother was William G. McGowan, the CEO 
of MCI Communications Corp., who died in 1992. 
She served as chairperson of the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund for many years and passed away
 in 2009. Sebastian, who died in 2006, served 
as a trustee of the foundation, which distributes 
approximately $7 million annually; $1.75 million 
was donated to this project. 

Video extra:

To learn more about Rosica Hall, go to www.ntid.rit.edu/rosica-hall/videos.