A Grand 50 Years

Logo for the NTID 50th Anniversary

Celebrating 50 Years of the
National Technical Institute for the Deaf

On June 8, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Public Law 89-36, creating the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. RIT was selected as the host institution for NTID on November 14, 1966, and soon thereafter, the RIT Board of Trustees named D. Robert Frisina as NTID’s first director. Frisina went right to work, assembling a team of faculty and staff who signed on to what Frisina called “The Grand Experiment,” and in 1968, NTID enrolled its first class of 70 students on the campus of RIT. 

Black & white photograph of Lyndon B. Johnson signing a law, surrounded by lawmakers

June 8, 1965. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the law which creates NTID.

It is not an overstatement to say that the establishment of NTID revolutionized education for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. There had never before been a college offering degree programs designed specifically to prepare deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to enter technical and professional fields. NTID administrators, faculty, staff and students alike understood that they were charting a new course, and none could have imagined then what a tremendous success “The Grand Experiment” would turn out to be.

Much has changed since our first class enrolled in 1968, but what has not changed, and what will never change, is NTID’s commitment to the success of our students. Everything we do is focused on providing the education and experiences students need to pursue their goals and lead successful lives. In our 50-year history, NTID has graduated more than 8,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing students, who have crossed the stage ready to hit the ground running in scientific, technical and professional careers across the country and around the world.

“The Grand Experiment” is an experiment no more. Through the hard work and dedication of so many, NTID has become a proven federal program that changes lives through unparalleled educational opportunities and top-rated access services delivered in a campus community that fosters growth and achievement. I am so very proud to be an NTID alumnus and to now lead the college that has had such a positive impact on so many lives, including my own.

As we celebrate and reflect on the past 50 years, we pause to thank all those who have contributed so much to NTID’s success. What began with the signing of PL 89-36 that June day 50 years ago has become a unique educational community with a rich history and a bright future. It truly has been a grand 50 years, and even as we celebrate all that has been, we look ahead to all that is yet to come.

Gerard Buckley Headshot

Gerard Buckley, SVP ’74, ’78

President NTID/Vice President and Dean RIT


Explore NTID's remarkable history and how we celebrated its 50th anniversary.