Monthly Archives: March 2017

RIT/NTID segment on WXXI program wins bronze Telly Award

Image of Dyer Arts Center with marble floor, artwork, high ceiling, staircase to second floor and benches in foreground.

A segment featuring Rochester Institute of Technology’s Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf has won a Bronze Telly Award, which recognizes distinction in local, regional and cable TV programs and commercials, as well as video and film productions.

“Move to Include (NTID Dyer Arts Center),” which originally aired Sept. 20, 2016, won in the TV Shows/Segments—Cultural category. In the segment, Arts InFocus visits the Dyer Arts Center and interviews Gallery Director Tabitha Jacques. The show is produced by WXXI in partnership with the Golisano Foundation, in support of an initiative designed to promote inclusion for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

"NTID’s Dyer Arts Center is proud to be the focus of WXXI’s award-winning Arts InFocus feature,” said Jacques. “WXXI has always been a tremendous partner and advocate, and understands the value that inclusiveness and diversity brings to communities. All of us at RIT/NTID, and especially those of us at Dyer Arts Center, congratulate WXXI on this award and look forward to working with them to continue to tell our story in the future.”

To watch the segment, go to

Alumnus William McGee joins RIT/NTID

Lighter skinned man with greying hair wearing a dark suit, white collared shirt and multicolored tie.

With more than 30 years of financial, accounting and management experience, William McGee of Sunbury, Ohio, has joined Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as assistant vice president for Finance and Budget. He began his new position March 20.

McGee, an RIT/NTID alumnus and Certified Public Accountant, most recently worked for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, helping to streamline and centralize service and defense agency functions into a consolidated process.

While serving as the director of Disbursing Operations for DFAS, McGee oversaw a $200 billion annual disbursing operation service for the military and defense agencies, ensuring strong systems of internal control over assets and reconciliation with the U.S. Treasury.

In his new role, McGee will be responsible for financial reporting; financial and operations policy and procedure for the financial sustainability of NTID; budget preparation and monitoring of the college’s budget. He will report directly to the president of NTID and will serve as the college’s principal financial officer.

“I am pleased to welcome alumnus Bill McGee ‘back home’ to RIT/NTID,” said Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “His background and contributions with the federal government will be an asset to our college and the greater university.” 

RIT/NTID alumna featured in Lyon Memorial Lectureship Series presentation

Sasha, a brown Indian woman, has brown eyes and dark brown hair w/bangs.She is wearing rose-gold saree with necklaces.

RIT/NTID alumna Sasha Lakshmi Ponappa will present "Finding Social Justice a Meaningful Home in Academia" 7-9 p.m. Monday, May 1 in the college's CSD-Student Development Center 1300/1310, as part of the Lyon Memorial Lectureship Series.The lecture will explore how to find social justice a meaningful place in academia where students, faculty and staff are embraced for their intersectional identities. Attendees will gain insight and tools on how to cultivate social justice principles to further enrich the lives of students and the community served. The presenter will draw from her own experiences as a student at Rochester Institute of Technology and how it started a lifelong journey of becoming a proud social justice warrior. 

Sasha Lakshmi Ponappa has been an advocate for more than a decade to eradicate violence within Deaf communities in Rochester, New York, Oakland, California, and Washington, D.C. She is the director for the Program for Deaf Adults at LaGuardia Community College, where she supports deaf, hard-of-hearing and deafblind students in furthering their educational goals, and making their collegiate experience inclusive and accessible. Ponappa received her bachelor's degree in social work from Rochester Institute of Technology and her master’s degree in social work from Gallaudet University, and lives in New York City with her husband, two children and a fur-baby.

RIT adds new bachelor’s degree in exercise science

Female student lays on exam table with breathing apparatus in her mouth as another female student reads the output data..

Rochester Institute of Technology is offering a bachelor's degree in exercise science, with its first freshman class beginning in the fall semester.

The four-year program is the first new degree offered through the Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition in RIT’s College of Health Sciences and Technology. Exercise science applies health, fitness, physiology, biomechanics and psychology toward enhancing athletic performance and preventing or managing chronic illness, such as cardiac disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and other health problems. More.

RIT/NTID’s Robert Panara to be honored in stamp event April 11

Image of stamp with dark background and Robert Panara in glasses, gray shirt and purple sweater signing

The First-Day-of-Issue dedication ceremony for the Robert Panara two-ounce Forever stamp will take place 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 11 in Panara Theatre, LBJ Hall on the RIT campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The program will feature U.S. Postal Service Chief Operating Officer David Williams, President of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and Rochester Institute of Technology Vice President and Dean Dr. Gerard Buckley, NTID Instructional/Support Faculty member John Panara (son), Stamp Photographer Mark Benjamin and Author and NTID Professor Emeritus Dr. Harry Lang

The public may RVSP online at Followers of the U.S. Postal Service’s Facebook page can view live streaming video of the event at, and are asked to use the hashtags #PanaraForever and #DeafEducation on social media.

The Postal Service’s 16th stamp in the Distinguished Americans series honors Robert Panara (1920-2014), an influential teacher and a pioneer in the field of Deaf Studies. He inspired generations of students with his powerful use of American Sign Language to convey works of literature. At age 10, Panara was profoundly deafened after contracting spinal meningitis, which damaged his auditory nerves.

Panara taught English for two decades, beginning in 1948, at Gallaudet College (now University), in Washington, DC. In 1967, he helped found the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and became its first deaf faculty member. For the next 20 years, he taught English to both deaf and hearing students at NTID, part of Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State.

The two-ounce Forever stamp features a photograph of Panara signing the word “respect.” The issuance coincides with the 200th anniversary of the founding in 1817 of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT — marking the beginning of formal education for deaf students in America.

Once purchased, the stamp is always good for mailing two-ounce First-Class letters anytime in the future, regardless of price changes. The current price is 70-cents.

RIT’s School of Film and Animation ranked lucky No. 13 nationally

Words Animation Career Review in black with white background. The

Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Film and Animation (SOFA) is once again ranked among the top animation schools in the country by Animation Career Review, a leading online resource of information for aspiring animation and game design professionals.

In three separate rankings, RIT places No. 13 nationally (among the top 10 percent of schools considered); No. 12 among private schools and colleges (also top 10 percent); No. 6 on the East Coast; and No. 4 in New York State.

In preparing its 2017 rankings, the website considered hundreds of U.S. schools that offer programs geared toward animation. RIT’s SOFA program once again received high marks for academic reputation; admission selectivity; the program’s depth, breadth and faculty; value as it relates to tuition; and geographic location.

“Graduates of RIT’s animation programs have found employment at top studios such as Disney Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, Nickelodeon, Industrial Light and Magic, and Rhythm and Hues Studios,” the publication writes in SOFA’s profile.

SOFA program offerings include a BFA and MFA in film and animation, and a BS degree in motion picture science, providing students who attend RIT with one of the broadest curriculum choices in the country.

“All of us in RIT’s School of Film and Animation are proud to again be selected one of the best schools in the country,” said Malcolm Spaull, administrative chair of SOFA in RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. “We pride ourselves in our program offerings to give aspiring animators and filmmakers the ability to grow and evolve as both students and creators.”

Animation Career Review was launched in 2011 as an online source for aspiring animation, design and gaming professionals seeking information on training programs, schools and colleges, software and technology, career profiles, and profiles of the leading industry firms. The online resource began publishing regional and national rankings the following year. The website currently receives approximately 225,000 unique visitors per month, predominantly from the United States and Canada.

RIT/NTID professor becomes first U.S. scientist to serve as visiting scholar for EACH program

Todd Pagano in dark sweater and jeans stands in front of a classroom with students in chairs at desks with a screen behind him.i

Rochester Institute of Technology continues to broaden its reach across the globe, formalizing an agreement to become an associate partner with the Excellence in Analytical CHemistry (EACH) program. The goal is to further facilitate cultural exchanges for analytical chemistry faculty and students with Europe.

Todd Pagano, professor of chemistry and associate dean for teaching and scholarship excellence at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, was the first faculty member from RIT—and the first U.S. scientist—to participate in the EACH program as a visiting scholar last month at Uppsala University in Sweden.

The EACH program—which educates specialists in analytical chemistry who are qualified to work in laboratories and industry in fields such as food, pharmacy, environment, health, materials and chemical technology—is a joint graduate endeavor among universities in Estonia, Finland, Sweden and France. Pagano said EACH, which is co-funded by the European Union and the Erasmus Mundus program, admits some of the world’s brightest analytical chemistry students.

During his weeklong academic visit, Pagano spent time at an environmental field station on Lake Erken in Northern Europe teaching graduate students about fluorescence spectroscopy and his work in advancing the understanding and the quality of reported fluorescence data in fields from biomedical to environmental analyses. He also discussed analytical chemistry techniques that he developed to measure specific chemical species in water.

“The brilliant students with whom I worked during my time in Sweden were from Estonia, Ukraine, China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Jordan, Greece and Nepal, among others,” said Pagano. “This is a great example of how teaching has a dual focus. It’s crucial to consider both our extensive knowledge of a particular subject, chemistry in this case, in addition to how we communicate that material to different audiences.”

According to the EACH website, the program invites a few international visiting scholars each year who are “outstanding experts in their respective fields.” Selection is competition based and prospective scholars must submit an application focusing on their expertise and research in analytical chemistry.

In 2012, Pagano was named “U.S. Professor of the Year” by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“The formalization of this agreement between RIT and EACH will hopefully continue the exchange of scholars and scientists, and continue to encourage RIT students to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that come with international travel and study—one of the hallmarks of the RIT brand,” added Pagano.

ASL Lecture Series presentation by Storm Smith

Smiling woman with dark skin and long dark braids wearing glasses, hoop earrings, maroon long-sleeved top, sleeveless gray vest.

RIT ASL and Deaf Studies Community Center's ASL Lecture Series presents Storm Smith "The Naked Truth: Reclaim the Power of Self" 12:30-1:45 p.m. Thursday, March 23 in SDC 1300/1310. 

“The Naked Truth: Reclaim the Power of Self” provides alternative ways to reframe our stories and images of Deaf culture. Smith will deliver warm, humorous personal stories about what it takes for her to live a creative life as a Black Deaf Queer woman in this society that will inspire participants to find ways to reclaim their passions. 

Smith is a filmmaker, visual storyteller, advocate and dymanic motivational speaker. She was born and raised in California, and now lives in Washigton, D.C., serving as creative video producer at Gallaudet University and the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.