More than 3,000 celebrate at RIT/NTID’s 50th anniversary alumni reunion

Three alumni, two younger and one older, together smiling.

More than 3,000 alumni from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf visited campus June 28 –July 1 to celebrate at the college’s 50th anniversary alumni reunion.

The world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students kicked off a year-long celebration of its 50-year history, which coincides with RIT’s move to the Henrietta, New York, campus.

Festivities began with an alumni golf tournament at Mill Creek Golf Club Thursday, June 28, and an opening ceremony that evening, hosted by alumnus and actor CJ Jones. Jones, who recently starred in the motion picture “Baby Driver” and will be featured in the upcoming James Cameron sequel, “Avatar 2.”

Other events and activities during the reunion weekend included a barbeque dinner, mini-reunions for current and former members of numerous clubs and organizations, including fraternities and sororities, and entertainment by popular alumni such as hip-hop artist Sean Forbes, ASL performance artist Rosa Lee Timm and actors Amber Zion, Kris Pumphrey and Daniel Durant, who most recently starred on Broadway in the revival of “Spring Awakening.”  

In addition to alumni from the college’s ‘pioneer’ class and founding faculty, four of RIT/NTID’s past leaders attended the reunion: founding director D. Robert Frisina; Robert Davila, the college’s first deaf leader; James J. DeCaro; and T. Alan Hurwitz. The college’s current leader, Gerard Buckley, is the first alumnus to lead the institution, which boasts more than 8,000 graduates.

The college’s Dyer Arts Center hosted an exhibition “50 Artists, 50 Years” featuring works by 50 RIT/NTID alumni artists along with the unveiling of a three-paneled mural, known as a triptych, entitled “Together” created by deaf artist Susan Dupor and commissioned for the 50th anniversary. “Together” portrays the flourishing life and history of the National Technical Institute of the Deaf over 50 years.

RIT/NTID Performing Arts and MSM Productions, Ltd. reprised the popular “The Wonderful World of Oz” in the college’s Panara Theatre for four special performances with proceeds to benefit the theater program.

Founded by an act of Congress in 1965, with the first class enrolled in 1968, NTID represents the first concerted effort to educate large numbers of deaf students within a college campus planned principally for hearing students. Among RIT's 18,000 full- and part-time students are nearly 1,100 deaf students from the United States and other countries.

NTID alumni have gone on to work and leadership positions in all areas of business, industry, government and non-profit sectors.

“We are thrilled that so many alumni from near and far joined us to celebrate 50 years of RIT/NTID,” Buckley said. “The sense of Tiger Pride was evident throughout the campus all weekend, and will leave an indelible impression on all of us who were in attendance.”

To commemorate the milestone, a book, “A Shining Beacon: Fifty Years of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf,” edited by RIT/NTID alumnus James K. McCarthy, has been published by RIT Press.

A photo gallery of the weekend's events can be found in here.

RIT/NTID earns international All Children Reading prize

Mel Chua (Co-PI), Stephen Jacobs (Senior Personnel), Tommie Sarchet (Senior Personnel), Kim Kurz (Co-PI) and Chris Kurz (PI)

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is one of five organizations from around the world that has earned a $250,000 grant to create literacy content for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development announced the winners of the first phase of Sign On For Literacy, a global competition to source technology-based innovations that increase access to local sign languages and advance language and literacy outcomes among deaf children. Chosen by a panel of experts from a field of more than 100 applicants from 39 countries, each of the five phase-one winners will receive $25,000 in seed funding to pilot their innovations during the next phase of the competition.

RIT/NTID will develop open source software that enables communities to create literacy content in their country’s local and national sign languages to be shared via an open-content digital library of folktales. These digital libraries will be viewable from any web browser, can be hosted locally and remixed by individuals (including children) with simple text and video editing tools.

The RIT/NTID team, which includes Christopher Kurz, Mel Chua, Kim Brown Kurz, Tommie Sarchet and Stephen Jacobs, collaborated with the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde to develop their proposal and will work together to bring folktales and sign language to deaf and hard-of-hearing Philippine children.

“Deaf and hard-of-hearing children around the world have limited access to literacy and deaf adults who use indigenous sign languages,” Christopher Kurz, one of the project leaders, said. “Our team’s innovation project includes folders of indigenous sign languages and folktales, so deaf children can learn the sign languages and read the stories with sign language support.

“We are firm believers in using technology to bridge indigenous sign languages to written languages, so deaf children can enjoy reading, thus broadening their access to language and learning.”

Launched in 2011 by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision and the Australian Government, All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development is a series of competitions that leverages science and technology to source, test, and disseminate scalable solutions to improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries.

Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized as a leader in computing, engineering, imaging technology, fine and applied arts, and for providing unparalleled support services for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. RIT is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Established by the U.S. Congress in 1965, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf is the first and largest technological college in the world for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. NTID offers associate degree programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing students and provides support and access services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students who study in the other eight colleges of RIT. NTID also offers a bachelor’s degree program in sign language interpreting and a master’s degree program in secondary education for individuals interested in teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students come from all over the United States and around the world to take advantage of the opportunities available to them at RIT/NTID.

RIT/NTID exhibits highlight 50 years of deaf art and history

artwork with a woman's face, butterflies, clocks, grid, colored balls, flowers and more.

As part of its 50th anniversary activities, Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf will host a “50 Artists 50 Years” exhibition in the college’s Dyer Arts Center. The exhibition opened June 22 and runs through Oct. 20, with an artists’ reception 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19.

NTID, the world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, has graduated many talented artists throughout its 50-year history. The exhibition showcases 50 alumni artists, displaying more than 100 works of art, including mediums such as painting, photography, mixed media, wood, textile, watercolors and more. 

Works by well-known artists such as the late Chuck Baird, along with local artists Laural Hartman and many others are included in the exhibition.

Along with the “50 Artists 50 Years” exhibition, the center will host an NTID's History exhibition in the Milton H. and Ray B. Ohringher Gallery, displaying a variety of memorabilia and highlighting the contributions made by RIT/NTID alumni, faculty, staff and students.

On Friday, June 29, as part of 50th anniversary reunion festivities, a triptych—or three-paneled work—by deaf artist Susan Dupor will be unveiled. NTID commissioned Dupor, who attended the college, to create this triptych to mark the college’s 50th anniversary.  

According to Dupor, the piece, entitled “Together,” visualizes NTID’s 50-year journey.

“‘Together’ honors the people of our past who have aspired to create a better future for us; we now take the time to look back and give appreciation and gratitude for their efforts,” Dupor said.

“Together” portrays the flourishing life and history of the National Technical Institute of the Deaf over 50 years. A vital and complex place that brings people together. In the painting, 50 people are gathered together on the Frisina Quad, which is central to NTID. Surrounded by the Dining Commons, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall and Tower A, figures from five decades are juxtaposed by a color scheme and fashion trends of their eras.

“NTID is a palette of people from all walks of life, which makes it an extraordinarily global community,” Dupor said. “Figures are conversing in sign language; each signed word has a special connection and meaning representing NTID. The figures symbolize everyday people who elicit long-lost memories of people we have known in the past who have been buried in the deepest recesses of our minds.”

 

Thousands expected to celebrate at RIT/NTID’s 50th anniversary reunion

NTID 50th Anniversary Reunion in brown with orange graphics representing buildings on campus.

More than 3,000 alumni from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf are expected to visit campus for a reunion June 28 –July 1 to celebrate the college’s 50th anniversary.

The world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students will kick off a year-long celebration of its 50-year history, which coincides with RIT’s move to the Henrietta, New York, campus.

The festivities will begin with an alumni golf tournament at Mill Creek Golf Club Thursday, June 28, with an opening ceremony that evening, hosted by alumnus and actor CJ Jones. Jones recently starred in the motion picture “Baby Driver” and will be featured in the upcoming James Cameron sequel, “Avatar 2.”

Other events and activities during the reunion weekend include a barbeque dinner, mini-reunions for current and former members of numerous clubs and organizations, including fraternities and sororities, and entertainment by popular alumni such as hip-hop artist Sean Forbes and actors Amber Zion, Kris Pumphrey and Daniel Durant, who most recently starred on Broadway in the revival of “Spring Awakening.”  

In addition to alumni from the college’s ‘pioneer’ class and founding faculty, four of RIT/NTID’s past leaders will be in attendance: founding director D. Robert Frisina; Robert Davila, the college’s first deaf leader; James J. DeCaro; and T. Alan Hurwitz. The college’s current leader, Gerard Buckley, is the first alumnus to lead the institution, which boasts more than 8,000 graduates.

The college’s Dyer Arts Center will host an exhibition “50 Artists, 50 Years” featuring works by 50 RIT/NTID alumni artists. The center will also host the unveiling of a three-paneled mural, known as a triptych, entitled “Together” created by deaf artist Susan Dupor and commissioned for the 50th anniversary.  “Together” portrays the flourishing life and history of the National Technical Institute of the Deaf over 50 years.

RIT/NTID Performing Arts and MSM Productions, Ltd. will reprise the popular “The Wonderful World of Oz” in the college’s Panara Theatre for four special performances with proceeds to benefit the theater program. Tickets can be purchased through the RIT Box Office.

Founded by an act of Congress in 1965, with the first class enrolled in 1968, NTID represents the first concerted effort to educate large numbers of deaf students within a college campus planned principally for hearing students. Among RIT's 18,000 full- and part-time students are nearly 1,100 deaf students from the United States and other countries.

Since its founding, alumni have gone on to work and leadership positions in all areas of business, industry, government and non-profit sectors.

“We are thrilled that so many alumni from near and far will be joining us to celebrate 50 years of RIT/NTID,” Buckley said. “We have a lot of great activities planned, but this reunion is really about old friends reminiscing and reflecting on how far we’ve come in just 50 short years.”

To commemorate the milestone, a book, “A Shining Beacon: Fifty Years of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf,” edited by RIT/NTID alumnus James K. McCarthy, has been published by RIT Press.

Editor’s note: Media is invited to attend RIT/NTID’s 50th Anniversary Reunion Opening Ceremony 6 p.m. Thursday, June 28, in the Gene Polisseni Center on the RIT campus.

Additional photos and video clips of RIT/NTID’s 50th Anniversary Reunion weekend can be made available to members of the media by contacting susan.murad@rit.edu.

 

 

RIT/NTID travels to California to offer summer program for deaf teens

Brown background with green leaves and roots, and DATS in white at the bottom.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is offering a free one-week summer program for college-bound deaf and hard-of-hearing students from the Central Valley California area to learn more about various careers related to agriculture and environmental science. This marks the first time RIT/NTID will offer a program on the West Coast.

Discovering Agriculture through STEM™, or DATS™, will run June 24-29 at Fresno State University for deaf and hard-of-hearing students entering grades 10, 11 and 12 in fall 2018.

Taught by deaf professors from RIT/NTID, the first and largest technological college in the world for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, located in Rochester, New York, students will discover what types of careers fit their interests; enjoy hands-on activities related to horticulture, solar energy, agriculture, food science and sustainable engineering; create their own solar USB charging device to take home; experience life on a college campus and meet other deaf and hard-of-hearing students with similar interests.

The program will have a mixture of career exploration and STEM workshops, including The Invisible World of Microbes; Curds, Whey, & Cones, Dirt… it’s good for you!; Solar Panel Charger; and Irrigation. Students also will be touring FSU’s Creamery, Solar Panel Facility, Planetarium and Water Irrigation Facility.

Since students and instructors will have various communication preferences, RIT/NTID is contracting with the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Service Center in Fresno to ensure interpreters are present for all courses and tours. 

RIT/NTID is receiving support from FSU’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies as well as the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Service Center and California’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.   

The program is open to students who are California residents residing in Central Valley, and financial support for travel is available.

For more information, visit http://www.ntid.rit.edu/dats

NTID-supported delegates offer wisdom to fellow graduates

Left, a dark-skinned female in glasses, grad cap, gown and cord; right a light-skinned female in cap gown and cords.

Among the 23 commencement delegates at Rochester Institute of Technology’s commencement ceremonies May 11 and 12 were two deaf students who shared their own stories of overcoming obstacles and imparted advice to their fellow graduates.

Paula MacDonald, the undergraduate delegate for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf from Cumberland, Ontario, Canada, graduated with an associate degree in computer aided drafting technology.

She completed a co-op with Fulcrum Engineering, where she prepared drawings and specifications for structural engineering projects. At RIT/NTID, she served as president of the Deaf International Student Association and was active with the Deaf Basketball Association and the Deaf Volleyball Association. MacDonald will be transferring to the bachelor’s degree program in civil engineering technology at RIT and plans to become a civil/structural engineer.

In her presentation, MacDonald encouraged her fellow graduates to follow their passions, be an inspiration to themselves and others and to become leaders in their families, communities and beyond.

“It’s such a wonderful honor to stand here and give my speech, to represent you all, as a deaf aboriginal woman in engineering,” she said.

Joan "Jo" Bempong, the undergraduate delegate for the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, is from Irving, Texas. She earned combined bachelor’s/master’s degrees in computer engineering with a minor in Deaf cultural studies.

She completed co-ops at Texas Instruments, Sandia National Laboratories, and VTCSecure. Bempong was a recipient of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the Outstanding Undergraduate Scholarship Award, the Deep Learning Classification Challenge Award and the Machine Intelligence Best Project Presentation Award. She was a finalist in both the Digital Rochester GREAT Award for student achievement and the RIT Tiger Tank competition. She was invited to present her work at the 25th Anniversary Congress on Women’s Health, and has accepted a full-time position at Texas Instruments.

Bempong used her own story of refusing to accept limitations because of her deafness and advised fellow graduates to, “Be extraordinary! Be rebellious. Be different. Take a stab at something you believe in and go for it. Do not be afraid to fail. When you do fail, fail hard and fail fast. Learn from your mistakes and keep on learning. And remember to ask for help when you need it.”

RIT/NTID students among RIT’s 2018 Legacy Leaders

Group of female students, each holding a blue folder.

Three RIT/NTID graduating seniors were recognized as part of the Legacy Leadership program of RIT's Center for Women and Gender and the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement. They are:

Brianna Conrad, an American Sign Language-English Interpretation major from Frederick, Maryland

Kaitlyn Shirey, an American Sign Language-English Interpretation major from Ambler, Pennsylvania

Britta Schwall, a business management major from Pflugerville, Texas

The Legacy Leadership program recognizes the achievements and leadership of RIT graduating women students. Students are self-nominated and must obtain two letters of support from the RIT or outside community detailing their civic responsibility and leadership. 

The selected Legacy Leaders attended the 2018 Women’s Career Achievement Dinner held on April 30, 2018, in the Gordon Field House as guests of the Center for Women and Gender and Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement.

History book highlights the first 50 years of RIT/NTID

Image of LBJ Hall at night with lights on in the entrance. Text: A shining beacon fifty years of NTID (spelled out)

A new history book detailing the establishment and rise of one of the country’s most innovative educational experiments now is available.

Published by RIT Press, “A Shining Beacon: Fifty Years of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf” highlights the first 50 years of the world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Rochester Institute of Technology. From its early days in 1968 to its 50th anniversary, NTID has graduated more than 8,000 alumni and has transformed the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the U.S. and around the world.

Seen through the perspectives of selected contributors, “A Shining Beacon” illuminates the multifaceted experiences of NTID’s students, faculty and staff, covering topics as varied as Deaf culture, the performing arts, student leadership and more.

With a foreword by Dr. Gerard J. Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean – who is himself an alumnus of the college – the book features contributions by more than 30 current and former faculty, staff and students, and is filled with photographs from the college’s archives through present day.

The book’s title is based on a quote by Dr. S. Richard Silverman, former director of the Central Institute for the Deaf, who in 1974 referred to RIT/NTID as “a lustrous beacon…of such magnitude, dignity and décor…that will illuminate the hearts of all who come to be served here.”

“A Shining Beacon” was edited by James McCarthy, who graduated from RIT/NTID in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Professional and Technical Communication, and later earned a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida. McCarthy returned to RIT/NTID in 2015, and is a senior marketing communications specialist with the college’s Communications, Marketing and Multimedia Services Department.

The book’s release coincides with RIT/NTID’s 50th anniversary reunion celebration June 28-July 1, and can be ordered on the RIT Press website: https://www.rit.edu/press/shining-beacon.