Monthly Archives: January 2017

Meeting the Needs of Deaf Scientists: Creating a Hub of Innovation in Rochester

female student with pony tail and hearing aid in lab coat looking in microscope with laptop nearby.

Leaders at the University of Rochester Medical Center and Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf published a rallying cry for the creation of a Diversity Hub of Innovation in Rochester for training Deaf scientists. The concept of Diversity Hubs of Innovation was proposed in 2015 by the National Institutes of Health to eliminate barriers in biomedical career advancement for underrepresented groups.  

The article, published in Science Letters, highlights the gross underrepresentation of Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in the biomedical sciences as well as their unique and diverse needs.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people not only experience language barriers and cultural isolation, but because their modes of communication vary widely, each person’s needs often are unique.

“There’s a lot of desire to diversify the biomedical workforce,” said Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., vice dean for Research at URMC and author of the article, “but the Deaf and hard-of-hearing population has lagged – even compared to some other underrepresented groups. Doing what we do for everybody else is not going to work for these individuals, who experience a lot of infrastructure and environment issues that people just aren’t aware of.”

With one of the largest Deaf populations in the nation and a top-tier academic medical center five miles from the world’s first and largest technological college for Deaf or hard-of-hearing students, Rochester is perfectly positioned to establish a national hub for training Deaf scientists. In fact, Dewhurst and Gerard Buckley, Ed.D., president of NTID, vice president and dean of RIT and another author of the Science Letters article, have led an effort to build relationships and develop programs bridging URMC and NTID to foster the success of Deaf biomedical trainees.

Buckley and Dewhurst hope that a Diversity Hub of Innovation in Rochester could define and better understand how to meet the needs of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing scientists and doctors and pass that knowledge on to other institutions. The hub could provide guidance for career development and training, new technologies, state of the art accommodations, expert sign language interpreters (with training in both ASL and biomedical disciplines), and a place for Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing scientists to gather and network.

“A growing number of our students have become professionals in a variety of post-doctoral fields – veterinarians, dentists, physicians,” said Buckley. “Given the resources that URMC and RIT/NTID bring to bear, Rochester is the perfect location to be the Diversity Hub of Innovation for the country, and to become the model for other leading universities. The success of our Deaf doctors and scientists will have a positive impact across the country.” 

RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center opens 2017 with three simultaneous exhibits

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The Dyer Arts Center, located in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, starts the new year with three exhibits opening Friday, Jan. 27.

The first, (Re)Invention, a traveling exhibition from the Kennedy Center, is designed to give visibility to the work of artists with disabilities throughout the United States. The exhibit presents artists whose work exemplifies themes of renewal and self-discovery. From the unexpected whimsy of an animation, to a bold series of self-portraits, this work is intended to engage, challenge and delight viewers. Collectively, these works of art seek to captivate and ask visitors to explore ideas of self, community, legacy and collective memory.

“The aim of this exhibit is to broaden our understanding of disability and the arts and to create new contexts,” said Tabitha Jacques, Dyer Arts Center director. “These 15 artists give us examples of how art can be used to rewrite a personal narrative. They are present in their community and in the world, and are motivated to use their creativity to send a strong message of inclusion and unity in the arts.”

The exhibit runs through March 4. One of the artists, Victoria Dugger, will be at the Dyer for an artist workshop on March 3, along with hard-of-hearing RIT alumna and artist Rea Walsh. Students from Rochester School for the Deaf also will attend the workshop, which will be followed by a reception 5-7 p.m.

For more information on the Kennedy Center’s (Re)Invention exhibit, visit:

The faculty artists from RIT/NTID’s Visual Communication Studies Department will exhibit works from their personal collections Jan. 27 to Feb. 25, with an opening reception Jan. 27.

The third exhibit, “Shakespeare in American Deaf History,” will run Jan. 27 to March 4. In conjunction with RIT/NTID’s Performing Arts program and RIT’s Cary Collections, programming will accompany this exhibit such as deaf actress Monique Holt on Feb. 1, and 5-7 p.m. Feb. 17 a performance by RIT/NTID’s traveling theater troupe Sunshine 2.0 with a presentation by director and performer Fred Beam on Diversity/People of Color in Deaf Theatre, with a special focus on Shakespeare.

For more information on these exhibits, visit the Dyer Arts Center website:

RIT/NTID interpreting professor pens book on best practices

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A professor of sign language interpreting education at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has published a compilation of best practices based on conversations with fellow educators.              

In “Conversations with Interpreter Educators,” Christine Monikowski assembled a group of 17 professors in the field of sign language interpretation. Through individual interviews, Monikowski engaged them in informal conversations about their teaching experiences and the professional publications that have influenced their teaching philosophies.

“The idea for this book has been in my thoughts for a long time,” Monikowski said. “I have always enjoyed talking with colleagues about their best teaching practices and have searched for the reasons why and how those practices evolved. I want to show how we can bring valuable research into the classroom and show students the value of scholarly publications. I conducted the interviews with colleagues who all are master teachers from my perspective. I hope to take the excitement, energy and, dare I say, passion of each contributor and convey that to the reader.”

Published by Gallaudet University Press, Monikowski’s conversations offer evidence-based practices that are designed to inform and inspire fellow educators.

Sally J. Pimentel Endowed Scholarship established at RIT/NTID

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Albert T. and Sally J. Pimentel of Fort Myers, Florida, have established an endowed scholarship to provide support to graduate-level RIT students who are deaf or hard- of-hearing and majoring in a science, technology, engineering or math program.                  

The Pimentel’s have contributed $50,000 to be designated to the Sally J. Pimentel Endowed Scholarship.

Albert Pimentel has been a longtime advocate of the deaf community and has served as past chairperson of the NTID National Advisory Group and a longtime member of the RIT Board of Trustees. The Pimentels have assisted young people in various states in obtaining higher education degrees. 

Through this gift, they hope to encourage deaf and hard-of-hearing students to continue their education and obtain a master’s or doctoral degree in science, technology, engineering or math graduate programs at RIT.

Selection for the scholarship will be based on:

  • Deaf or hard-of-hearing student enrolled at RIT
  • Demonstrated financial need
  • Full-time enrollment in a master’s or Ph.D. program
  • Good academic standing

“We are grateful to Albert and Sally for establishing this scholarship,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “The Pimentels have been strong supporters of RIT/NTID and our deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and we appreciate their belief in the talents of our students. This gift to RIT/NTID continues their generosity in investing in young people and their futures.”

RIT named by U.S. Dept. of Energy to lead new Manufacturing USA Institute on clean energy

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Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy, as part of its Manufacturing USA initiative, to lead its new Reducing Embodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute—a national coalition of leading universities and companies that will forge new clean energy initiatives deemed critical in keeping U.S. manufacturing competitive. More.

RIT ranked a ‘best value’ university

Aerial shot of RIT building showing trees and blue sky in the background...

Rochester Institute of Technology ranks among the country’s best values in private colleges, according to “Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s Top 300 College Values of 2017.”

Kiplinger’s annual list ranks 300 private universities, liberal arts colleges and public colleges, as well as separate lists in each of those categories.

RIT ranked 85th out of 100 on the list of private universities, and 266th among all colleges. More.