The 11th annual RIT Math Competition for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students welcomed more than 200 middle school students and coaches to a weekend of math competition and fun. The first place winners for the team countdown were from Maryland School for the Deaf. For other winners, both team and individual, see more.
The Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Awards
Congratulations to RIT/NTID’s Outstanding Undergraduate Scholars, who are pictured here with NTID Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Stephen Aldersely: left to right, Radhika Mehra, Joan Bempong, Annie Monaco, Aldersley, Sarah LaMascus and Maxfield Orr.
A tradition at RIT since 1976, the Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Awards honor the top 1% of undergraduate students who are able to maintain a high standard of academic excellence while also giving back to their community through civic or volunteer work, conducting research or being engaged in co-op or work in their field of study.
The awards event itself not only celebrates our Outstanding Undergraduate Scholars, but it also gives them an opportunity to acknowledge a past teacher or professor who has had a significant impact on their academic career.
RIT/NTID alumnus Fred Michael Beam finds connections where others may not. As the coordinator of RIT/NTID’s traveling performance troupe Sunshine 2.0, Beam connects performing arts and science, technology, engineering and math—or STEM—themes, for deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing children and adults around the country.
Sunshine 2.0 is a reboot of the Sunshine Too program that was created in 1980. During its 19-year history, Sunshine Too visited 48 states and numerous countries, providing more than 12,500 performances for more than 1.3 million people worldwide.
Beam brings a global perspective to Sunshine 2.0, having worked with a variety of dance companies, and has performed around the world.
For his outstanding work with the deaf community, Beam was chosen one of Essence magazine’s Real Men of the Year, and has been DEAF LIFE magazine’s Deaf Person of the Month.
“The vision of Sunshine 2.0 is to reach out to people and show them their commonality,” Beam said. “I’m interested in bridging the gap between communities and cultures.
“I was working in public schools in the Washington, D.C., area when I first saw Sunshine Too perform. I never thought that one day I would be re-establishing it.”
Sunshine 2.0 is made up of experienced performers Ronnie Bradley, a deaf actor and dancer from Washington, D.C., and Katie Mueller, who is hearing from Rochester and has a BFA in performance from Emerson College in Boston.
The troupe incorporates sign language and speech to ensure that all audiences can access the performances.
Sunshine 2.0 began this fall. As coordinator, Beam develops their themes, scripts and travel schedules.
“We are focused on the theme of bullying,” he said. “It’s an important and relatable topic. There is acting and poetry, written by deaf poets, spoken and sign language, dance and movement. Our ultimate goal is to share Sunshine 2.0 with the world.”
For Beam, coordinating a performing arts program that incorporates deafness and STEM themes is a perfect fit—he earned his degree at RIT/NTID in engineering technology in 1985 and was introduced to the performing arts.
“It feels like this job was made for me,” he said.
Beam was first exposed to theater at NTID, having been asked to join the dance troupe in part because of his moves on the RIT basketball court.
“The dance teacher was watching a game and asked me to join his class. I then got involved in theater at NTID and graduated with a rich theater experience.”
Beam’s depth of experience as a performer, coordinator and member of the deaf community are assets as he looks to grow Sunshine 2.0.
“This program can reach so many students with its messages of hope and inclusion,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “We are fortunate to have Fred ‘back home’ at NTID leading the resurgence of Sunshine 2.0.”
Editor's note: Ivanna Genievsky from Frederick, Maryland, has been added to the troupe since the printing of this article.
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 usps.com/rpanara. Followers of the U.S. Postal Service’s Facebook page can view live streaming video of the event at facebook.com/USPS, 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.
More than 230 companies searching for skilled employees are expected at Rochester Institute of Technology's 2017 Spring Career Fair on March 1, 2017. There will be representatives from Fortune 500 companies, medium-sized regional companies and small-tech firms from across the country. Some employers, such as Microsoft, General Electric, Toyota, IBM, Bose Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, J.P. Morgan Chase and the National Security Agency, attend each year while more than 25 companies, such as Delta Airlines, New York State Office of Information Technology Services and Security Risk Advisors, are attending the Career Fair for the first time. More.
Deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students in 10th and 11th grades can use the power of words to express their feelings— and win prizes—in Rochester Institute of Technology’s SpiRIT Writing Contest for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students.
Winners can choose from a scholarship and travel expenses to the Explore Your Future program at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, or a $500 cash prize. Explore Your Future is a six-day summer career exploration program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students that provides the opportunity to sample different careers as well as college life.
For guidelines and entry information for the SpiRIT Writing Contest, go to www.rit.edu/NTID/WritingContestNR. The entry deadline is March 1.
Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf announces the annual Digital Arts, Film and Animation Competition for high school students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Students in grades 9 through 12 will compete for $250 cash prizes, and the winners’ work will be exhibited in RIT/NTID’s Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center and on the college website.
The national competition recognizes students’ artistic expression with awards in film, graphic media, interactive media, photo imaging, 3-D animation and webpage design. See the competition website for previous winners in these categories.
Students may submit up to two entries. Online entry forms, contest rules and other details are available at www.rit.edu/ntid/dafac/. The submission deadline is March 1.
For more information about NTID, go to www.rit.edu/NTID.
David C. Munson Jr. was introduced to the community today as Rochester Institute of Technology’s 10th president.
Munson, who will assume RIT’s top post July 1, was introduced by RIT Board Chair Christine Whitman at a community-wide event this morning in the Gordon Field House.
“We believe we have identified the ideal leader to continue RIT’s rise to prominence. A leader who shares our commitment to outstanding career-focused education, research and innovation, love of both technology and the arts, and a desire to help students from widely diverse backgrounds succeed,” Whitman told the audience. “This is a leader who has a vision for the future of RIT that will both unite and excite the entire RIT family from around the world.”
A brief video highlighting Munson’s many personal and professional accomplishments was shown, and then the former dean of the University of Michigan College of Engineering, chosen by the RIT Board of Trustees after a nationwide search, came on stage to thunderous applause and took the podium.
Munson opened his remarks by thanking the RIT Board of Trustees for what he called “a thrill and privilege” to be named university president. And he congratulated retiring President Bill Destler, RIT students, faculty, staff and alumni “for the exemplary work you all have done in creating such a strong foundation for the future.”
“When I stepped down from my dean position this past summer, RIT was already known to me because I had admired your progress over the years and your strength in the arts as well as technology,” Munson said.
“In the coming years, I look forward to maintaining RIT’s traditions and simultaneously building on the 2025 Strategic Plan, ‘Greatness through Difference.’ To be sure, there is still much work to be done at RIT in program development, recruitment of top-notch faculty and students, planning of facilities and fundraising. But I believe that RIT is positioned to continue its upward trajectory, elevating its distinctive programs to best in class and generating new ideas and programs for the future, with the promise of making an ever-larger difference in the word.”
As RIT’s president, Munson will be responsible for one of the nation’s leading research and career-oriented universities featuring 18,700 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries, 121,000 alumni, $73 million in sponsored research and an endowment of more than $750 million.
He said he was “drawn to RIT when I observed an exciting portfolio of academic programs, research with impact to solve global problems, and an ability to stay focused on the overall student experience.”
A 24-member search committee composed of students, faculty, staff, alumni, administration and trustees narrowed the pool of candidates before the final selection by the Board of Trustees.
“We are proud to welcome Dr. Munson to RIT and look forward to him leading the university through its next exciting chapter,” said Whitman said in a statement. “His extensive academic experience, respected research credentials, demonstrated leadership, engagement with students and global vision will propel RIT to new heights. We know he will build on the strong foundation established by President Destler and his predecessors whose tireless work made RIT a distinctly great university.”
Munson has 38 years of experience in higher education, which includes serving as the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering at Michigan from 2006 to 2016, where he served two five-year terms, the maximum allowed by U-M. Michigan Engineering is considered one of the top engineering schools in the world. Eight of its academic departments are ranked in the nation’s top 10.
Munson earned his BS degree in electrical engineering (with distinction) from the University of Delaware in 1975. He earned an MS and MA in electrical engineering from Princeton in 1977, followed by a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1979, also from Princeton.
From 1979 to 2003, Munson was with the University of Illinois, where he was the Robert C. MacClinchie Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Research Professor in the Coordinated Science Laboratory and a faculty member in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
In 2003, he became chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at U-M prior to becoming dean. Today, with his deanship appointment fulfilled, he serves as a professor of electrical engineering and computer science.
Munson’s teaching and research interests are in the area of signal and image processing. His current research is focused on radar imaging and computer tomography. He is co-founder of InstaRecon Inc., a start-up firm to commercialize fast algorithms for image formation in computer tomography. He is affiliated with the Infinity Project, where he is coauthor of a textbook on the digital world, which has been used in hundreds of high schools nationwide to introduce students to engineering.
Munson is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a past president of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, founding editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, and co-founder of the IEEE International Conference on Image Processing. In addition to multiple teaching awards and other honors, he was presented the Society Award of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, he served as a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, he received an IEEE Third Millennium Medal, and he was the Texas Instruments Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rice University.
In 2016, Munson earned the Benjamin Garver Lamme Medal from the American Society of Engineering Education (highest award for an engineering administrator).
Munson’s record of accomplishment that drew praise from current RIT President Bill Destler, who will retire June 30 after serving more than 40 years in higher education and 10 years as RIT president. He applauded the work of the search committee and the selection of the new president.
“On behalf of RIT and the Greater Rochester-Finger Lakes region, I welcome Dr. Munson and his wife, Nancy, to our community,” Destler said. “The naming of a new president is an exciting time for RIT students, faculty and staff, as well as our alumni, family and friends around the world. Dr. Munson has an impressive record of accomplishments and brings skills, expertise and experience that will greatly benefit this university and further propel RIT as one of the great global universities.”
To learn more about Munson’s credentials, including a curriculum vitae, go to http://www.rit.edu/presidentialsearch/.
To read Munson’s full remarks, go to http://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=59161.
To read more about the search process, go to http://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=59131.
To read more about Munson, go to http://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=59171.
Educator and icon Robert Panara, the first deaf faculty member of Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, is being honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a stamp.
The 16th stamp in the Distinguished Americans series features Panara, an influential professor and pioneer in the field of Deaf Studies and one of the founders of the National Theatre of the Deaf.
“I’m very proud to see my dad honored and Deaf culture recognized in this way, and I want to thank the personnel at the USPS Stamp Development Office for all their work in the design process,” said Panara’s son John, himself a faculty member at RIT/NTID.
The stamp features a photograph of Panara signing the word “respect” taken by RIT/NTID photographer Mark Benjamin and was designed by USPS art director Ethel Kessler.
During his teaching career, Panara inspired generations of students, and his powerful use of American Sign Language to convey Shakespeare and other works of literature, made him much beloved and respected by students and colleagues alike.
Panara was born hearing in Bronx, N.Y. At age 10, he contracted spinal meningitis, which left him profoundly deaf. He attended mainstream public schools and often relied on classmates to take notes for him or mouth words so he could lipread.
He graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City, learned sign language at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Conn., and then earned a bachelor’s degree at Gallaudet College (now University) in 1940, where he wrote several papers that established him as a leader in the field of deaf education. “The Significance of the Reading Problem” expressed his belief that “what the world needs today is more teaching that comes from the heart and soul and not of the coldly conservative and somewhat reticent mind.” This insight would form his teaching style.
Panara’s love of drama and theater made his classes some of the most sought after by both deaf and hearing students.
In 1965, he was invited by U.S. Secretary of Education John Gardner to serve on a national advisory board for the establishment of NTID. He began his career at NTID in 1967 and became its first deaf professor. He also established the English department at NTID where his son, John, currently teaches. Throughout the years, Panara won a number of awards and distinctions including the RIT Founders Award, the NTID Student Association Outstanding Staff Award and the RIT Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching. He also holds honorary degrees from Gallaudet University and MacMurray College.
He founded the NTID Drama Club and was a founding member of the National Theatre of the Deaf, and has been honored by the World Federation of the Deaf for his contributions to education and culture.
Panara, who passed away in July 2014 at the age of 94, was an avid poet, lover of Shakespeare and theater, and fan of baseball and the Rochester Red Wings.
“Bob Panara’s contributions to the field of Deaf Studies, theater and education are indeed worthy of celebrating,” said Gerard J. Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “RIT/NTID and the entire Deaf community is justifiably proud that Bob is being honored in such a meaningful way.”
The formal Date of Issue will take place at a ceremony in April 2017 in Rochester, New York, home of RIT/NTID where Panara taught for 20 years.
On November 15, 2016, RIT revealed plans for the building that will house MAGIC Spell Studios, a first-of-its-kind effort in higher education that will link RIT’s internationally ranked academic programs with high-tech facilities needed to commercialize computer gaming, film and animation, and digital media projects. More.