Sen. Schumer visits RIT to officially announce increased federal funding for NTID

More than $4 million in funding will help offset cuts from last year’s sequestration




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A. Sue Weisler

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, center, with RIT President Bill Destler, left, and NTID President Gerry Buckley.

At Rochester Institute of Technology on Tuesday to announce increased federal funding for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer called NTID “one of the great institutes in America.”

Schumer, D-N.Y., applauded the work done educating its students and the success of more than 7,000 NTID graduates throughout the nation, calling it “well known as the nation’s best school” for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

This year’s federal budget allocates $66.29 million for NTID, an increase of $4.29 million. That increase is critical for NTID, which last year dealt with a cut of $3.4 million due to the federal sequestration. The majority of NTID’s funding comes from Congress, so to cope with the reduction, NTID instituted a hiring freeze as well as a voluntary retirement program.

The additional funding will allow NTID to keep employment stable and maintain programs it offers its students, said Schumer and NTID President Gerry Buckley. This year, 1,432 students from across the U.S. and beyond are enrolled in NTID or receive support services from the college while enrolled in other colleges of RIT. NTID will also be able to purchase innovative technology and renovate outdated facilities with the funding.

“Most importantly for the students, this allows NTID to stay affordable this year,” Schumer said.

Schumer cited studies showing that over a lifetime, NTID graduates have higher employment rates and earnings and rely less on federal programs than those deaf or hard-of-hearing students who withdraw or earn degrees from other institutions.

“This is not just good for all who attend, this is good for all of America, because when you do well, we do well,” Schumer said. “I’m going to always fight to keep federal support for NTID. As long as Chuck Schumer is senator, you have a friend who will fight for you. I look forward to continuing to work to help NTID and Rochester, two of my favorite places in the whole world.”

RIT President Bill Destler called Schumer “a national leader with significant roles in shaping national policy” and a tenacious advocate for Rochester, RIT and NTID.

“NTID has had a significant and wonderfully positive impact on RIT and the greater Rochester community for more than 45 years, and that impact continues to grow,” Destler said. “It’s this kind of impact on individuals and the economic impact that a major federal program such as NTID makes on the community that makes the support we receive from Washington so important.”

Destler and Buckley expressed the university’s appreciation to Schumer for his successful efforts, and also praised the area’s federal delegation, notably U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, for their staunch support of NTID and other programs that will benefit RIT in the 2014 appropriations bill.

“On behalf of the faculty, the staff and students of NTID, we thank you for believing in NTID. We thank you for believing in our mission and we thank you for fighting for us,” Buckley said.

When Schumer notices a deaf person at a gathering, Buckley said, he often holds up the “I Love You” hand sign. “It’s an indication of how much he values us and cares about us,” Buckley said. “Thank you, Senator, for your support.”

201401/schumer2014.jpg

A. Sue Weisler

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, center, with RIT President Bill Destler, left, and NTID President Gerry Buckley.