Dr. Gerard Buckley was officially installed as president of RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf this spring. He is the first alumnus in the college’s history to lead NTID. Although Buckley assumed leadership of NTID on Jan. 1, the formal installation was held when family, friends and dignitaries, including NTID’s National Advisory Group, would be in Rochester and could attend.
“This is indeed a special day and a surprising day for us,” D. Robert Frisina, NTID’s founding director said in a taped welcome. “To believe in our own lifetime we could see one of our own graduates become president of NTID. I know that the many students and alums of this institution are looking to you for leadership, and I know they’ll get it.”
“I’m honored to serve as president of NTID,” Buckley said. He acknowledged students in the audience. “The spirit of NTID lives in you, your dreams, and your passion. We here are proud to serve you.”
Annette Reichman, director/liaison of the Office of Special Institutions for the U.S. Department of Education, said she has known Buckley for years. She says his interactions with students, faculty and staff were always memorable. “Students would stop Dr. Buckley in the hallway to chat and to talk about the most recent events in their lives, and he would know them all by name as well as remember previous conversations with them. How many of us do that? And do it well? The students obviously saw Dr. Buckley as a teacher, mentor and role model.
“Truly, to have an alumnus come back to lead NTID is a testament to the mission of the college and is a source of great pride to all of you who are involved in the college,” Reichman said.
She also read comments from Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education:
“I wish you all the best in carrying out the responsibilities of your new position and in carrying out NTID’s important mission to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing students with an education that prepares each of them to thrive in a rapidly changing world. The mission of a university is a dual mission – to educate its students and prepare them for life. As you help your students achieve their dreams for college, work and life, you also help to secure our nation’s future. President Barack Obama and I believe that the source of America’s prosperity has never been merely how ably we accumulate wealth, but how well we educate our people. This has never been truer than it is today. … I hope you are able to reflect with great satisfaction and pride on the choice you made to serve in this capacity in education.”
RIT Provost Jeremy Haefner spoke of Buckley’s dedication to his family, friends, and his Alma Mater’s students, faculty and staff. He spoke of Buckley’s determination to succeed as an undergrad and as a doctoral candidate. And he spoke of Buckley’s passion and responsibility to ensure students receive the best educational opportunities.
“Gerry Buckley is a leader,” Haefner said. “A leader at the right time and in the right place. And we are indeed fortunate to have him leading NTID and partnering with all of the colleges of RIT to prepare the next generation of leaders.”
Several of Buckley’s family members attended the ceremony, and his son, Tim, sang, You Raise Me Up, accompanied by student signers and a dancer.
Also in attendance was Rep. Louise Slaughter; James Smith, representing Rep. Tom Reed; Deborah Essley, representing Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle; New York State Sen. Joseph Robach; New York State Assembly members Harry Bronson, Sean Hanna and Robert Oaks; Rich Turner, representing State Assemblyman Mark Johns; and Monroe County Legislator Joshua Bauroth.
After the ceremony, well-wishers filled the Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center for a reception co-sponsored by several NTID groups, including Student Congress, Faculty Council, Staff Council, Alumni Association, Deaf Professional Advisory Group and the Student Leadership Advisory Group.
“This is unbelievably huge!” said Debbye Byrne, former NTID Student Council officer who now works with NTID’s Student Life Team. “Not only is it mind-boggling, it is also heart-boggling to witness such a great alum like Dr. Buckley taking the mantle and completing the dream of having our very own to lead the next generation of deaf and hard-of-hearing scholars. Dr. Buckley is the type of president that will share his family values with us and see each one of us as one of his own. He is not shy about setting high standards for himself - not just as a president, but as an individual - in order to empower us to believe in ourselves.”