RIT named one of the Top 200 Colleges for Native Americans by ‘Winds of Change’ magazine

Native American woman with long dark hair wearing a white cardigan hands a student a craft item.

"Winds of Change" magazine recognized Rochester Institute of Technology as one of the Top 200 Colleges for Native American Students. This marks the eighth time RIT made the annual list, published by American Indian Science and Engineering Society. The magazine ranked top universities in the United States “where American Indians are going to school in significant numbers and where the community, Native programs and support are strong enough for these students to enjoy college and stay on to graduate.” There are 180 Native American students pursuing their degrees at RIT, including 12 who are deaf or hard of hearing. More.

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. 

Rising Leadership Academy for NTID-Supported Students

USBLN logo in blue and green with two circles intertwined to the left of the letters.

RIT/NTID students have an opportunity to participate in a unique program to develop leadership skills, sponsored by the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN). The deadline to apply for the Rising Leadership Academy is Dec. 18. Encourage your student to apply today. 

Students can apply at www.surveymonkey.com/r/2018RLIapplication. More information on the Rising Leadership Academy can be found on their website

Click on this video link to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffU5ThFai80&feature=youtu.be  

RIT’s College of Science, NTID develop new articulation agreement

Light skinned man wearing white lab coat, safety goggles and blue gloves works with science lab equipment.

Qualified deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf now have additional opportunities to continue their studies toward bachelor’s degrees in the sciences at RIT.

 

Thanks to an articulation agreement between NTID’s Department of Science and Mathematics and RIT’s College of Science Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences, qualified deaf and hard-of-hearing students completing the associate of applied science (AAS) degree in Laboratory Science Technology can seamlessly transfer into bachelor’s degree programs in Biology, Environmental Science and Biotechnology & Molecular Bioscience. A majority of the credit earned toward the LST degree will apply to the bachelor’s degrees in these majors.

The Laboratory Science Technology major, with its foundation of course sequences in chemistry, biology and instrumental analysis, was developed primarily from an industry perspective to prepare students for employment as laboratory technicians. The major has several significant factors that set it apart, including the application of real-world analyses and state-of-the-art classrooms and instrumentation laboratories. Graduates are prepared to work in a broad range of fields, including chemical, biological, biotechnical, pharmaceutical, environmental, industrial, forensic and food analysis.

Students earning an associate degree have the option of finding employment or continuing to work toward a baccalaureate degree.

“NTID is committed to increasing the number of deaf scientists in our country, and has programs that encourage students from middle and high school through post doctorate programs” says Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “This articulation agreement is designed to encourage academic cooperation and the exchange of information between NTID and the College of Science, and will go a long way toward meeting our goal of adding deaf representation to science labs throughout the country.”

The LST program has an existing articulation agreement with the School of Chemistry and Materials Science in RIT’s College of Science where students can work towards a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or biochemistry. This new articulation agreement expands the options within the College of Science.

Spotlight on Kendall Charles of RIT/NTID’s ‘The Story of Beauty and the Beast’

Three performers in costumes, two at right and left indicating to the one in the center, a dark-skinned male. all are smiling.

Kendall Charles is a fourth-year computing and information technologies major from Opelousas, La., who is adopting the role of Beast in NTID’s production of The Story of Beauty and the Beast. Charles has enjoyed acting and theater since elementary school, but he didn’t start being consistently involved with theatrical productions until last year. Last year, he was featured in three productions through NTID: Fairytale CourtroomDanceTale and The Crucifer of Blood. In addition to his love for theater and dance, Charles enjoys playing volleyball and basketball and is involved with several organizations on campus. He is the copy interpreter for the NTID Student Assembly, works at the NTID Learning Center as the senior learning center assistant lead and is in the process of becoming a fraternity brother of Sigma Nu.

This production of NTID’s The Story of Beauty and the Beast is unique from other interpretations of the story. Instead of conveying the fairytale verbally, the cast will tell the classic love story through a variety of dance styles, sign language and other non-verbal expressions. The production premiered at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Robert F. Panara Theatre. There will be shows starting at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov 11, and one show starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12.

To purchase tickets for the event, go to https://rittickets.com/Online/default.asp.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: RIT perfectly embodied what type of college I was looking for. It covered all three of the things I was looking for when applying to schools. First, it’s a college that is outside of my home state of Louisiana. Second, it merged two different worlds together: the deaf world and the hearing world. The third is that RIT is well-known for my major, so it would look good if I got my degree from here.

Q: Have you always enjoyed acting and being on stage?
A: Yes, I have always enjoyed acting and being on stage. Acting and performing are like my comfort zone from reality, a place that I can escape to. It’s also a huge stress reliever when I’m on stage, so that is an added benefit.

Q: Beast is an iconic role; what was your reaction when you found out you got the part?
A: My reaction was a mixture of emotions. I was shocked, thrilled and, of course, nervous.

Q: Do you get along well with Belle and the rest of the cast?
A: Yes, I do get along well with everyone. Of course, every play has a little tension between the cast members because of all the stress we have about the show and our classes, but at the end of the day, we all get along. We want to make the play as successful as possible and make sure to work together so it will be great.

Q: Do you have any fun moments from rehearsals that you can share?
A: Oh yeah, definitely. At the start of every rehearsal we begin with a warm-up dance and exercise and that is really fun. We are allowed to dance any way we want to, so we can be silly or serious. The exercise gives us time to bond together. I also like that we all share our skills with each other to help each other improve. For example, someone might show someone else how they dance so that person can improve their dancing skills.

Q: Playing Beast typically involves wearing some extensive makeup and prosthetics, is it hard trying to work in such an elaborate costume?
A: You should come to the show and see the Beast costume yourself! I don’t want to spoil anything, but all I can say is that all of our costumes are actually lighter than most other Beauty and the Beast costumes. Because we are all dancers and need to move around a lot, the costumes needed to be flexible and easy for us to dance in. They are very cool and, thankfully, easier to move around in than you would think.

Q: Do you have any rituals or habits that help you prepare to perform?
A: Before rehearsals, I always do the warm-ups and exercises to get myself loose and ready to perform. I also review all the dances and lines before I show up to the rehearsal to make sure I’m prepared and hopefully won’t make any mistakes.

Q: What is your favorite part of the production as a whole?
A: It is a spectacle and a rich experience. I love building a bond with everyone involved with the production. I believe that having a bond with everyone involved with the production, from cast to tech crew, makes the distinction between an amazing production and a beyond-amazing production.

Q: What are your plans for after graduation?
A: I would like to eventually go back and get my master’s degree in business once I’m ready to start school again. Until then I want to find a good company to work at that understands my goals of eventually returning to school.

RIT/NTID investigating ways to enhance learning for deaf students beyond notetaking

Center of photo is a female with short hair and glasses in maroon sweater with hands in sign language shape as two others watch.

As a deaf student majoring in psychology, Joshua Mora looks for ways to enhance his learning in scientific environments that are traditionally composed of hearing peers and faculty.

In order to fulfill his and other students’ needs for diverse methods of information dissemination and a greater understanding of learning styles within the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, a new project has been launched—one that uniquely connects hearing and deaf communities and will result in effective STEM learning for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Since this past spring, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Faculty Learning Communities program has been developing training and “accessibility toolkits” for faculty in STEM disciplines who are searching for viable ways to adapt their teaching methodologies to accommodate the learning needs of their deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The communities—facilitated by hearing and deaf faculty pairs in similar disciplines—brainstorm alternative learning ideas, propose experiments, and test the efficacy of the alternatives.

Sara Schley, director of NTID’s Research Center for Teaching and Learning and principal investigator, said the project, which was funded through a three-year, $443,200 grant from the National Science Foundation, combines faculty engagement in instructional change, universal design for teaching and learning, and student-centered pedagogy that all ultimately enhance inclusiveness within the classroom. Co-principal investigator on the grant is Stephanie Cawthon from The University of Texas at Austin.

“Faculty members who teach deaf and hard-of-hearing students may assume that notetaking services and interpreting services, for example, are tools that sufficiently provide an adequate learning environment,” Schley said. “While these services certainly assist the students with their learning, we’ve found that there are many other ways that instructors can adapt their teaching styles to enhance the learning environment for our students. This project is meant to provide relevant information to our faculty in a supportive way.”

One Scenario

Schley cites one example. Inside the classroom, faculty may explain complicated STEM concepts by showing slides while sign-language interpreters translate the information to a deaf student. However, it’s extremely difficult for deaf and hard-of-hearing students to look at slides while watching an interpreter. This often results in the student missing valuable dialogue and classroom interaction.

In the scenario mentioned above, added Schley, faculty may experiment with pausing after showing a slide or writing on a white board and checking for “eyeballs” in order to be sure that students have finished reading the information and are ready to shift their focus back to the instructor or the interpreter.

Students like Mora, a fourth-year student from Fremont, Calif., who view this project as an opportunity for them to thrive in RIT’s rigorous educational setting, are serving in mentorship roles—valuable resources for hearing faculty who are encouraged to seek feedback and perform “dry runs” on potential strategies. Mora also believes the project offers a forum where an exchange of ideas will increase student engagement.

“If a teacher has concerns about how to make curricula accessible, we are available to provide guidance,” he said. “This project has a direct impact on student engagement and motivation in the classroom, and I think it will ultimately encourage more deaf and hard-of-hearing students to enter STEM fields with confidence.”

Schley sees a steady progression in the advancement of the initiative. RIT’s Teaching and Learning Services, a unit of the Innovative Learning Institute, is developing a “toolkit” website that can be readily accessed by faculty looking to expand their instructional methodologies. And as the project develops over the next few years, Schley said that the learning communities will be asked to investigate applications using more advanced technology such as “flipped” learning. In this case, faculty might add cues for students that encourage them to pause and review a graphic explanation after seeing a captioned explanation.

Individualized Instruction

Robert Garrick, a manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology professor in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology, teaches future engineers using a technology-rich, interactive learning environment with hundreds of instructor and student videos in a classroom with 10 interactive projectors.

“I am especially interested in this project to understand how we, as instructors, can improve accessibility with the emerging multimedia tools we use,” said Garrick. “Our teaching and accessibility techniques are hopefully evolving as quickly as our technology tools in order to provide individualized instruction while giving continuous feedback to each student based on their needs.”

Jennifer O’Neil, assistant professor of mechanical engineering technology, joined the RIT faculty in 2016. While she has always focused on building course work around different teaching pedagogies that promote improved student learning and engagement, she felt that her participation in this project would sharpen her skills working with a diverse and unique student population—RIT’s deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

“I am continuously striving to improve my teaching effectiveness,” said O’Neil. “Before I was faced with any challenges in the classroom, I decided to join the learning community to learn alternative strategies to improve student engagement and retention, but more importantly to make meaningful changes in the classroom that would enhance the learning experience for all students.”

Schley added that, simply put, the project is about the best way to engage in collaborative learning because there are many different kinds of learners in the same classroom.

“We’re helping our faculty to take a little more time to think about meeting the needs of their students and designing activities that don’t depend on a particular channel of information. This is about good teaching.”

On the Web

Access and Inclusion Project: http://bit.ly/NTIDaccessibility

Saunders College online MBA among top in Princeton Review rankings

Brick building exterior with steel awning and center pole. Students with orange backpacks and benches in foreground.

Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology ranked eighth in the “Top 25 Online MBA Programs for 2018.”

Saunders College online Executive MBA program also earned high placements the past three years since the inception of The Princeton Review’s comprehensive rankings of online MBA programs in 2015.

“The online Executive MBA is a signature program of Saunders College and we are pleased that its reputation continues to garner exceptional rankings,” said Saunders College Dean Jacqueline Mozrall. “Guided by an innovative and dedicated program staff, our outstanding faculty provide a rich and engaging learning environment for our cohort-based online Executive MBA experience.”

The result of The Princeton Review’s third annual ranking of the top 25 online MBA programs for 2018 is available at www.princetonreview.com/best-business-schools along with FAQs about the basis for each ranking, including detailed profiles of the schools.

“As more students embrace online MBA options, the caliber of both students and programs has greatly improved, so it is especially gratifying to see recognition at the national level of our students’ commitment to their own professional development, as well as evidence of our faculty’s high-touch engagement with their students,” said Martin Lawlor, director of the Executive MBA program at Saunders College.

According to one Saunders online Executive MBA student, “This is an intense program that prepares students with unimaginable leadership capabilities,” while another mentioned, “innovation, product management, marketing and analytical” skills as part of the program’s strengths.

Saunders’ online Executive MBA program was cited by students for its “well-known, rigorous and accelerated program” that delivers 47 credit hours in 17 months of study, an international immersion trip that is “a huge benefit to attending RIT,” and “real-life courses and assignments” culminating in a capstone project where students serve as consultants to actual businesses. “A whopping 50 percent” of graduates reported receiving a promotion while attending the program.

Saunders College is accredited by the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and offers the Executive MBA program with flexible scheduling options and access to a dedicated MBA career services advisor, as well as free lifetime access to RIT’s Career Services.

Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review, said “Top business schools now offer online MBAs and employers do see them as credible and valuable. For working professionals unable to move to a ‘brick and mortar’ campus for an MBA, these schools offer an opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best b-school professors and earn the degree from anywhere in the world.”

Researchers Study How Deaf People Learn, Grow

two females and one male with glasses and beard look at sensor cap with brain model and laptop in foreground.

Peter Hauser is a strategist—executing a carefully orchestrated plan to establish his Center on Cognition and Language at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as the premier location in the world for researching how deaf people develop, learn, grow, and live.

Hauser is inspiring an army of dedicated and talented student and faculty researchers to follow his lead and make a difference in the education, health, and wellness of deaf people for generations to come. Back in the early 2000s, Hauser was the first-ever practicing deaf neuropsychologist to work alongside physicians in diagnosing conditions such as learning disabilities, attention disorders, dementia, and depression in deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. But as Hauser’s career progressed, along with an increasing clinical workload, he realized that diagnoses were often made based on decades of studies of only hearing subjects. Further investigation revealed a significant lack of research using deaf and hard-of-hearing subjects.

“There was and still is a dire need for research on deaf individuals’ language, cognitive function, memory, and intelligence, which all play a role in understanding and diagnosing conditions and understanding how we learn and develop,” said Hauser. “There were times that I thought to myself, ‘How can I diagnose my deaf patients when the only basis for understanding I have is using irrelevant research?’ And while I truly loved working one-on-one with patients and physicians, I felt that I needed to impact the physical and mental well-being of deaf people, as well as their access to education, in a different way.”

After years of writing grants to secure funding and conducting his own research, Hauser created NTID’s Center on Cognition and Language in 2016—the only center of its kind in the world led by a deaf director and staffed primarily by deaf researchers. The center produces interdisciplinary and collaborative discoveries on the cognitive, language, and socio-cultural factors that affect deaf individuals’ learning, well-being, and health, and equally as important, shares these discoveries with other researchers, hospitals, schools, and clinics. Research projects are funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and NTID.

“I would dream of starting this research center, and some days I didn’t think it would ever happen,” said Hauser. “But every day, I made little decisions based on closing in on that dream.”

Hauser is also passionate about developing future generations of deaf researchers and scientists in social, behavioral, and biomedical research disciplines and provides mentorship programs for deaf scholars. The center is home to two NIH-funded training programs committed to fostering aspiring deaf scientists’ development by providing outstanding mentored research experiences and one NSF-funded program to broaden the participation of deaf students in sign-language research.

Building an Army

RIT student Sarah Kimbley began her work in the center as an undergraduate. She works in the center’s Deaf x Lab, Sign Language Lab, and the Deaf Health Lab, and this fall is a scholar in the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate program, which selects top RIT graduate students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and wish to pursue a doctoral degree.

Kimbley, an experimental psychology graduate student from Lakeland, Fla., is working on several projects including studying health literacy and understanding individuals’ feelings about being deaf. She is also comparing temporal sequence processing in deaf children and how language acquisition and audition may mediate neurocognitive functions like working memory, executive function, and sequence learning.

“Researchers claim deaf children with cochlear implants have a cognitive deficit that is due to a lack of auditory input,” said Kimbley. “However, our research proposes an alternative explanation. Language deprivation has a greater impact than auditory deprivation. In other words, not being exposed to language within the first five years can be harmful for cognitive functioning. We are predicting that our developmental study will show us that language fluency will have an impact while hearing level has little or no impact on cognitive functioning, specifically temporal sequence processing.”

The center staff works with and mentors students at all educational levels from first-year to graduate students, and beyond.

Tiffany Panko ’08, ’09 (applied arts and sciences, MBA) is a post-doctoral fellow in the center who graduated from RIT with concentrations in premedical and psychological studies and from the University of Rochester in 2016 with a medical degree. The Rochester native has studied and worked alongside Hauser off and on from as far back as 2004.

“I just can’t seem to get away from Peter,” jokes Panko. “As an undergraduate, I was in a class that he taught—Biological Basis of Mental Disorders, which was the class where I realized that I could blend my love of psychology with medicine and working with people. Last year, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my residency, so I contacted Peter and he told me that he could really use my expertise in the Deaf Health Lab. I’m working on a big five-year project that connects Rochester, Chicago, and Flint, Mich., and more than 1,000 deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing people. All of these areas provide racial, ethnic, and economic diversity—rich research environments.”

The project, a partnership with the University of Michigan, will provide information on how to better provide preventive health and health care information to the diverse deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Eye trackers in the lab help Panko and others study how deaf users navigate health websites. The goal is to gain information on how different groups within the deaf community learn differently in order to customize how information can be delivered to these marginalized populations.

“I have learned so much about psychology and academic research during my time working here in the center, but more importantly, I have learned to become more confident in myself and my ability to achieve my goals,” added Kimbley.

Kimbley and Panko, who is also deaf, are just two of the 14 students, four staff members, and seven NTID faculty members who support Hauser and the center’s labs through their research.

“We bring together experts from different levels of education and different backgrounds including, but not limited to, linguists, physicians, cognitive scientists,” he added. “We bring them together for the first time in the same environment. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We are creating new types of science that just aren’t possible without this one-of-a-kind collaboration.”

On the Web

NTID Center on Cognition and Language: www.ntid.rit.edu/nccl

Labs

NTID’s Center on Cognition and Language houses five labs, each focusing on a different aspect of deaf life.

  • Deaf Studies Laboratory—investigates how stigma about deaf people has an impact on those individuals’ education, health, and careers.
  • Deaf x Laboratory—investigates how the deaf experience shapes cognition, including attention and the executive functions using behavioral science tasks, electroencephalography, and eye tracking to understand the effects of language and hearing on cognition in adults and cognitive development in children.
  • Sign Language Laboratory—investigates issues in sign-language acquisition, educational interpreting, and sociolinguistics, including language variation and language attitudes.
  • Deaf Health Laboratory—establishes research related to the deaf community on preventive health, health literacy, health knowledge, and the deaf experience in health care.
  • Deaf Math-Science Language and Learning Lab—focuses on language learning and conceptual understanding in mathematics and science.

Mentorship Programs

Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate: deafscientists.com

Rochester Post-doc Partnership: www.urmc.rochester.edu/academic-research-careers-deaf-scholars.aspx

Broadening the Participation of Deaf Students in Sign Language Research program: Provides the top deaf and hard-of-hearing students from higher education institutions across the United States with mentored opportunities in sign language research.

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.