RIT/NTID and Environmental Protection Agency renew partnership

Deaf and hard-of-hearing students attending RIT/NTID will continue to benefit from enhanced educational and career opportunities in the environmental sciences.

Matthew J. Sluka

RIT/NTID's John Macko, Gary Behm, and Miranda Harms attend a virtual signing event with members of the Environmental Protection Agency. An interpreter facilitates communication between the two groups.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing students attending Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf will continue to benefit from enhanced educational and career opportunities in the environmental sciences, thanks to the extension of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the college and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The original MOU, inked in 2017, was formally renewed during a virtual signing ceremony Sept. 22, with representatives from RIT/NTID and the EPA present.

The purpose of the MOU is to continue cooperation between RIT/NTID and the EPA in areas of mutual interest, including promoting equal opportunity in higher education, contributing to RIT/NTID’s capacity to provide high-quality education, and encouraging the participation of RIT/NTID in EPA programs.

Activities included in this partnership include:

  • Inviting RIT/NTID faculty and student participation in public policy forums, presentations, seminars and other events at the EPA.
  • The EPA participating in career fairs and other outreach to RIT/NTID students, faculty and alumni regarding EPA employment opportunities.
  • The EPA providing assistance to RIT/NTID for the advancement of environmental education by distance learning technology.
  • EPA representatives participating in trainings, lectures, webinars, conferences and other events at RIT/NTID.
  • Use of the EPA Superfund Office to develop presentations for RIT/NTID students on emergency responses to hurricanes and other disasters.

“The partnership between RIT/NTID and the EPA has benefited our talented deaf and hard-of-hearing students in profound ways,” said Gary Behm, NTID associate vice president for academic affairs. “We are committed to continuing this valuable relationship with the EPA on behalf of our students.”

A program committee consisting of representatives of RIT/NTID and the EPA manages the items within the memorandum. The EPA’s Region 2, headquartered in New York City, administers the MOU on behalf of the EPA, working with other EPA offices, regions and laboratories as appropriate. RIT/NTID’s Co-op and Career Center administers on behalf of the college.

“This partnership showcases the impact of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility that are of great importance to the EPA, specifically to increase the number of opportunities for persons with disabilities,” said Lisa Garcia, regional administrator of the U.S. EPA Region 2. “We had a nationwide goal to go from 9.7 to 10.7 percent employment of people with disabilities this year, and we now are at 12 percent.”

Representatives participating in the signing were, from the EPA: Garcia; Olivia Glenn, chief of staff and senior advisor for Equity; Mark Oldland, field account specialist, Disability Employment Program manager, Removal Support Section; and Walter Mugdan, Region 2 deputy regional administrator; and from NTID: Gary Behm, NTID associate vice president for Academic Affairs; John Macko, director of NTID’s Co-op and Career Center; and Miranda Harms, employment adviser in NTID’s Co-op and Career Center.

“We are interesting in taking even more steps to advance the program with NTID,” said Glenn. “We plan to visit campus in early 2023, and will work to continue ensuring this partnership remains strong for the next five years and beyond.”