Category Archives: Events

Chills, thrills and surprises: ‘The Wonderful World of Oz’ comes to RIT/NTID

yellow background with two sparkly golden slippers with bows on top and aqua blue centers.

The performing arts department at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf presents "The Wonderful World of Oz," April 19–22, with encore performances June 28–July 1 in celebration of NTID’s 50th anniversary reunion. The production will be held in the Robert F. Panara Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, on the RIT/NTID campus.

Adapted and directed by RIT/NTID alumnus and former performing arts faculty member Jim Orr, the production provides a fully accessible American Sign Language/spoken English rendition of L. Frank Baum’s classic tale of adventure and discovery. Set design is by RIT/NTID alumnus Ethan Sinnott.

Several other NTID alumni are participating in the production and the incorporated video segments, and there will be several surprises for the audience.

The production is co-sponsored by MSM Productions, Ltd. Special keepsake playbills will be distributed to attendees at both the April and June performances.

Matthew S. Moore, alumnus and president of MSM Productions, Ltd., and founder and chairperson of the NTID Performing Arts Advisory Committee, is providing sponsorship and in-kind support for the production.

“This is a major milestone for our theater program,” said Moore. “NTID has produced many exciting plays during its first 50 years. In the next 50 years, we will be doing more large-scale productions where students and community members will have an opportunity to participate.”

Show times are 7:30­–9:30 p.m., April 19–21 and April 27-28; and 2-4 p.m. Sunday, April 22. Tickets are $12 for general audiences, $10 for alumni, faculty, staff and children age 12 and older, $5 for students, seniors (60+) and children under age 12.

There will be four benefit performances, 2-4 p.m. June 28-July 1; and 7:30-9:30 p.m. June 29-30. Tickets for the benefit performances will be $35 each, with proceeds going to support the renovations of the NTID performing arts department's 1510 Experimental Lab .

Tickets may be purchased through the RIT box office online at https://rittickets.com or by phone at 585-475-4121. Tickets also will be available on performance days two hours prior to curtain.

For more information, contact Joseph Fox, jwfnpa@rit.edu

Join us for Jim DeCaro’s retirement celebration

Jim DeCaro in suit and bow tie with information on his retirement party Feb. 1 2-4 p.m. in Dyer Arts Center.

Join us in the Dyer Arts Center 2-4 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 1, to celebrate RIT/NTID Dean Emeritus Jim DeCaro's retirement after 47 amazing years. Remarks will begin at 3 p.m. Interpreters have been requested.

[Image description: Jim DeCaro wearing glasses and beard, in suit jacket, white shirt and bow tie. His hands are clasped in front of him. Text reads: After 47 AMAZING years here at NTID, Jim DeCaro is headed into a new adventure: RETIREMENT! On Thursday, February 1st, we will be celebrating Jim’s last day at NTID. Please stop by to offer your congratulations and join us in celebrating Jim’s legacy at RIT/NTID. Thursday, February 1, 2018 2-4 p.m. Remarks at 3 p.m. Interpreters requested.]

RIT/NTID establishes first NSF Deaf College Innovation Bowl

Two college-age men in suits and one woman in dark clothes and sweater stand in front of a screen with the word Marketing, etc.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing college students with innovative product ideas can compete to earn cash and business expertise, thanks to Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The college has established the first NSF Deaf College Innovation Bowl, sponsored by a National Science Foundation I-Corps grant and administered by RIT’s Simone Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and RIT/NTID. The competition will showcase innovative ideas of deaf students from throughout the country centered around technological solutions that are STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) based.

For the first phase, each team submits a 10-minute video describing their idea. The three top college teams will receive $3,000 in I-Corps funding to develop their idea.

In addition to the start-up funds, each team will receive prototyping assistance, training and mentoring from qualified I-Corps coaches to help them further strengthen their innovation. All training and mentoring will occur online and through accessible videos and other video technology.

For the second and final phase, the three final teams will submit a second video after their idea has been refined through I-Corps training program and mentoring. A team of judges will select one winning team to be the Deaf College Innovation Bowl champion. This winning team will then receive an additional 10 weeks of personalized coaching and mentoring through the I-Corps program, and an additional $3,000 in funds for prototyping, travel and for student stipends.

“RIT/NTID has a proud tradition of encouraging and developing innovation and entrepreneurship among our deaf and hard-of-hearing students,” said Scot Atkins, RIT/NTID professor of business and the Innovation Bowl program coordinator. “The I-Corps program and curriculum are designed to advance early stage commercialization of products in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields, which will help bring students’ ideas to fruition.” 

Each team, represented by a college, must be made up of at least two deaf and/or hard-of-hearing members or led by a deaf or hard-of-hearing student. Team members must be matriculated full-time at the representative college at the time of application submission. Members of the team must be committed for up to one year to receive coaching from I-Corps. More than one team from a single college or university is permitted.

Each team must have a coach, or another designated representative from the college program. A coach may be a member of the faculty, staff or another designated representative. Team ideas cannot be based on an already existing operational business venture and must be STEM based.

The deadline for application submission is Jan. 26, 2018. More information can be found on the website https://www.rit.edu/research/simonecenter/nsf-deaf-college-innovation-bowl or by contacting Atkins at wsanbt@rit.edu.   

RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center to host DeVIA Challenge Exhibition

White background with three circular images of art work and exhibit information below.

RIT/NTID's Dyer Arts Center presents the #DeVIAChallenge Exhibition in the center's glass room Jan. 19-Feb. 24, 2018. Events involving the exhibit scheduled for Jan. 26 in the center include a presentation by artist and RIT/NTID alumna Nancy Rourke 3:30 - 4:30 p.m., artist talks from 4:30 -5:30 p.m. and a reception 5:30 - 7 p.m..

This presentation is made possible with support from RIT/NTID's Department of Cultural and Creative Studies and Interpretek. 

The Dyer Arts Center is located on the first floor of Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall on the RIT campus, 52 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, New York 14623. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, and 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information visit the Dyer website

RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center to exhibit Ellen Mansfield Retrospective

Four works by Ellen Mansfield at the top with information on the event at the bottom.

RIT/NTID's Dyer Arts Center will host a new exhibit, Ellen Mansfield Retrospective: through the darkness into the light, Jan. 19-Feb. 24, 2018 in the gallery. An artist reception is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9. The Dyer Arts Center is located on the first floor of Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall on the RIT campus, 52 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, New York 14623. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, and 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information visit the Dyer website

Alumnus gives RIT $50 million to foster entrepreneurship and cybersecurity

Left to right: RIT President Munson, Austin McChord and President Emeritus Destler.

A 2009 alumnus has given Rochester Institute of Technology $50 million, the largest donation ever made to the university and one of the largest ever in the region.

The unprecedented gift comes from Austin McChord, founder and CEO of Datto, a Connecticut-based data protection company with engineering and support offices in downtown Rochester.

“A gift of this magnitude will help propel RIT from excellence to preeminence,” said RIT President David Munson. “We are so proud of our alumnus Austin McChord. He was passionate about his idea and he turned it into a big success. This embodies the creative element that we want to further highlight at RIT. Every student can be involved in creating things that never before existed, and then putting the result into play. His investment in RIT will help our students and faculty make their mark on the world.”

McChord, an RIT trustee, said he was inspired to make the donation by former RIT President Bill Destler, with whom he has developed a friendship.

“My goal with this gift is two-fold,” said McChord. “First is to help make more resources available to students, alumni and the community at-large to create, build and innovate for the future. But it’s also to help recognize those who helped you along the way. My success today would not have been possible without my time at RIT.”

Destler, who retired as RIT president in June 2017, was in the audience at RIT’s Student Innovation Hall as McChord announced his gift.

“I am thrilled that Austin McChord has chosen to share his success with RIT in the form of this most generous gift,” said Destler. “It’s truly been a pleasure to get to know him and to watch his business grow internationally as well as right here in Rochester, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for him as well as for the programs and projects this gift will support.”

The gift is to be designated for use in two major areas:

  • $30 million to foster creativity and entrepreneurship at RIT, including $17.5 million to launch the Maker Library & Innovative Learning Complex of the Future. This will be a new facility connecting RIT’s Wallace Center and the Student Alumni Union. Additional funding will go toward purchasing equipment and endowing faculty positions and student scholarships, including new “Entrepreneurial Gap Year” fellowships to help students advance their concepts into businesses.
  • $20 million to advance RIT’s cybersecurity and artificial intelligence capabilities. This funding will be used to expand facilities, as well as to establish endowments to attract and retain exceptional faculty and graduate students, primarily in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, the largest of RIT’s nine colleges.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we extend our sincere appreciation to fellow Trustee Austin McChord for this magnanimous gift,” said RIT Trustees Chair Christine Whitman. “This most generous gift will allow RIT to expand and enhance its programming in some areas that the university is noted for, as well as further fostering our environment of creativity and innovation.”

McChord has been an active alumnus of RIT, serving as a frequent keynote speaker at events, including Venture Creations graduation, the annual Entrepreneurship Conference and the 2017 Commencement. Datto sponsored events such as RIT48, an entrepreneurship competition, and hackathons, and McChord has given of his time as a mentor in RIT’s SummerStart program, an intense summer program aimed at assisting entrepreneurs/innovators in developing their business concepts to a point where they are ready to begin to seek angel investment.

McChord founded Datto, a global provider of Total Data Protection Solutions, in 2007. Starting with an idea he had while a student at RIT, McChord started the company in the basement of his father’s office building. His original goal of building basic back-up for small businesses across the country has expanded dramatically over the past 10 years. Datto has experienced exponential growth, appearing on the coveted Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and has been recognized by the Connecticut Technology Council as one of the state’s fastest growing companies. The company has also received numerous industry awards for company growth, product excellence and customer support.

Datto was recently acquired by Vista Equity Partners and merged with Autotask Corp. McChord is CEO of the new company, which has about 1,400 employees with offices in nine countries. In 2015, the company became Connecticut’s most valuable start-up, with a valuation in excess of $1 billion.

In August 2014, Datto opened a branch in downtown Rochester on the fourth floor of RIT’s Downtown Center, at 40 Franklin St., becoming the first company in the region to join that state’s START-UP NY program. Initial plans called for Datto to add 70 workers within the next 18 months, but Datto has already grown to more than 200 employees in Rochester. McChord has said he expects the company’s Rochester operations, which also has offices on multiple floors of The Metropolitan (former Chase Tower), to continue to grow.

McChord’s business success has earned him several honors. The holder of several patents, McChord was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2015 as a leader in Enterprise Technology and won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year New York Region Award in 2016.

BBC Click visits RIT/NTID

BBC Click logo

BBC reporter Paul Carter and a producer/videographer traveled from London, England, to spend two days in Rochester, New York, filming a segment for "BBC Click." Click is the BBC’s flagship technology program, bringing “the best debate on global technology, social media and the internet.” They are a guide to all the latest gadgets, websites, games and computer industry news. 

The BBC team spent most of their time at RIT/NTID, interviewing President Gerry Buckley, visiting Chris Campbell's classroom that uses Microsoft Translator, checking out the Deaf Archives in The Wallace Center with Joan Naturale and spending time in the Dining Commons learning how deaf and hearing individuals interact on campus. They also  visited Venture Creations, RIT's innovation incubator, to learn about Motion Savvy, a company that began as an entrant to RIT/NTID's The Next Big Idea competition. They also traveled to Rochester School for the Deaf for a lesson on the rich history of Deaf culture in Rochester. 

The segment is available by clicking on this link. 

Banquet and Celebration Friday, Nov. 10

Poster with brown frame. Image of Abbe de l'Eppe in religious garb on left and two sugar skull costumes on right.

The 6th Annual Deaf-Mute* Banquet celebrating the 305th birthday of Abbe de l'Eppe is combining with a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Latin American cultural celebration 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, in the Dyer Arts Center. Download the form to purchase tickets. 

*The idea of an international annual Deaf celebration arose within the Comite' des Sourds-Muets (the Deaf-Mute committee headed by Ferdinand Berthier) in Paris, France, to honor the birth of Abbe de l'Eppe, the hearing founder of the first free Deaf school, and supporter of sign language instruction (Gulliver, 2013). Since 1834 at the Parisian traditional annual banquets, they also noted accomplishments of Deaf indivduals in various fields. In keeping with this tradition, reenactments will happen at this banquet. 

RIT/NTID Performing Arts presents dance and music adaptation of ‘The Story of Beauty and the Beast,’ Nov. 9–12

Dark skinned male in blue jacket with red trip hugs a medium skinned female in white dress.

The Performing Arts program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf will present a dance and music adaptation of The Story of Beauty and the Beast, conceived by Thomas Warfield, director of NTID’s dance department. The performance—an adaptation of the traditional fairy tale written in 1740 by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve—will be performed at NTID’s Panara Theatre in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9–11, and 2 p.m. Nov. 12. 

The show, co-directed and co-choreographed by Warfield and Nicole Hood-Cruz, tells the story of an arrogant young prince and his servants who fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress, turning the prince into a hideous beast until he learns to love and be loved in return. A spirited village girl, Belle, enters the beast’s castle in search of her father who has been imprisoned there and begins to draw the cold-hearted beast out of isolation with the help of the enchanted servants. The take is freshly told through non-verbal expressions in a variety of dance styles, sign language and melody.

“This uniquely creative production of The Story of Beauty and the Beast showcases the outstanding talent of RIT’s deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing actors and dancers,” said Warfield. “And while this ‘tale as old as time’ is one that many people are familiar with, the innovative fusion of dance and music is certain to mesmerize audiences, young and old. One of the underlying messages in our production is there’s beauty in our differences. Music and dance help to express and communicate that understanding for the deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing communities coming together to present this beautiful show.”

Tickets can be purchased through RIT University Arenas and are $5 for students, senior citizens and children; $10 for RIT faculty/staff/alumni; and $12 for everyone else. Tickets will also be sold at the door on performance days. For more information, call 585-475-4121.