RIT/NTID’s ‘Dial M for Murder’ runs Feb. 28-March 1

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The Alfred Hitchcock classic Dial M for Murder has a new twist as Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf Performing Arts translates the play into American Sign Language, making it accessible to deaf audiences. The show, which runs at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 and 29, and 2 p.m. Feb. 29 and March 1, at NTID’s 1510 Lab Theatre, enlists RIT students from the College of Liberal Arts as voice actors, making the production a full experience for deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing audiences.

During the production, deaf and hard-of-hearing audience members can experience cutting-edge closed-captioning technology using smartglasses developed by Vuzix Corp. The technology, designed for live performances, combines access services with augmented reality. The remote interpretation and captioning services platform application has been placed into service in businesses, educational institutions and most recently, the Pro Football Hall of Fame museum. Vuzix will eventually refine the technology to impact access services for movie franchises, theater companies, and home television.

Those familiar with Dial M for Murder will enjoy this interpretation of the play’s dark themes. After learning of an affair, former English professional tennis player Tony Wendice, played by NTID alumnus Dack Virnig ’11 (arts and imaging studies), decides to hire a man to murder his socialite wife, Margot, played by Shaylee Fogelberg, a design and imaging technology major from Rochester, N.Y. Tony’s plot fails and the evidence is twisted, making it appear as though Margot has killed the man hired to murder her.

Dial M for Murder, which was written for stage and screen by Frederick Knott, is directed by Luane Davis Haggerty, principle lecturer at NTID, and features cameos by RIT President David Munson and deaf classical actor Patrick Graybill. Supporting actors are Samuel Langshteyn, a film and animation major from New York, N.Y.; M.K. Winegarner, an ASL-English interpretation major from Rochester, N.Y.; and NTID alumna Niki McKeown ’00 (arts and computer design).

Performing arts at RIT has a history of delighting audiences with top-quality productions. Most recently, the university’s productions of August Wilson’s Fences and the play I and You were honored by the Kennedy Center College Theater Festival.

“Performing Arts on campus is clearly coming into its own and breaking new ground with each production,” said Davis Haggerty. “NTID’s production of Dial M for Murder is building on this energy and is a clever mix of theatrical art and technology. It’s a production that audiences will not want to miss.”

Tickets for Dial M for Murder are free and can be reserved at Eventbrite.

RIT named one of the best colleges to study video game design

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Animation Career Review has again named Rochester Institute of Technology one of the top game design schools in the country. RIT ranked seventh on the list of Top 50 Game Design Schools in the U.S. and second in New York state.

The 2020 rankings considered 136 colleges with game design programs. The annual rankings were created by Animation Career Review, an online resource for aspiring animation, game design and development, graphic design and digital art professionals. The list also named RIT the No. 3 game design school on the East Coast and fifth-best private school nationally.

“We are happy that RIT is consistently recognized as one of the best schools in game design and development,” said David Schwartz, director of RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media (IGM). “Faculty and staff in IGM work hard to provide core computing education within the context of game design, so our students have amazing career opportunities.”

Animation Career Review noted that RIT offers several programs for aspiring game designers, including two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s. In fact, any student studying computing in RIT’s Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences has the opportunity to minor in game design and development. Students outside of technical computing majors can also minor in game design.

RIT’s Bachelor of Science in game design and development provides a broad-based undergraduate education in computing while exposing students to the breadth of game design and development processes. The bachelor’s program in new media interactive development also explores casual games, in addition to new technologies and experiences with web, wearable and mobile computing.

Students who pursue a master’s degree in game design and development at RIT focus on the technical roots in the computing and information sciences disciplines, while simultaneously covering the breadth of the development landscape through involvement in topics, including computer graphics, game engines, interactive narrative and game world design. The degree culminates with a capstone project in which students create their own games.

RIT game design students can also work with RIT’s MAGIC Center, a nonprofit university-wide research and development laboratory and a for-profit production studio that assists in efforts to bring digital media creations up to marketplace standards and commercialization. RIT’s MAGIC Spell Studios, which moved into a new state-of-the-art building in 2018, focuses on nurturing and growing new companies and publishing and distributing their projects.

The ranking also highlights RIT’s emphasis on cooperative education—full-time paid work experiences that provide students with an opportunity to learn on the job in real-world industry settings. With help from the co-op program, graduates of RIT’s game design and development programs go on to work at companies including Microsoft, Rockstar Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Valve Corp. and Walt Disney Interactive.

The full game design school rankings can be found on the Animation Career Review 2020 Game Design Rankings website.

From archery to nerfology, RIT redfines wellness

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Wellness classes at Rochester Institute of Technology are nothing like the gym classes students are required to take in high school. RIT offers 180 wellness course options for students to promote holistic wellness, and requires all undergraduates to complete two wellness courses before they can graduate. Courses vary from traditional indoor cycling, swimming, dance, soccer, and bowling, to power skating, yoga, and fencing. More.

RIT ranked a ‘Best Value College for 2020’

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Rochester Institute of Technology has been named among “Best Value Colleges for 2020” by The Princeton Review.

The project analyzes 40 data points for more than 650 of the nation’s 4,000 colleges and universities. Only 200 made the final list. Topics covered include academics, cost, financial aid, career services, graduation rates, student debt and alumni support. Princeton Review also used data from its surveys of students attending the colleges and PayScale.com surveys of alumni regarding their starting and mid-career salaries and job satisfaction.

“The schools we chose as our Best Value Colleges for 2020 comprise only 7% of the nation’s four-year colleges,” noted Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief. “They are truly distinctive and diverse in their programs, size, region, and type, yet they are similar in three areas. Every school we selected offers outstanding academics, generous financial aid and/or relative low cost of attendance, and stellar career services. We recommend them highly to college applicants and parents seeking schools that are academically top-notch and committed to making their programs affordable. These colleges are also standouts at guiding their students to rewarding futures.”

RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, NTID Performing Arts announce 2020-2021 theatrical season

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Classic sci-fi; an interpretation of a Tony Award-winning musical; a story of faith and friendship; and New Yorkers struggling with drug abuse, AIDS and homosexuality are all part of a new collaborative season by Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf Performing Arts program and the College of Liberal Arts. The partnership between NTID and the College of Liberal Arts is a long-term collaboration in which strong backgrounds in performance, acting, directing, dance and music converge to create stunning theatrical productions.

The productions present a wide array of cultural, political and social issues. The 2020-2021 season includes:

SOMNIUM, conceived and directed by guest director Omen Sade, Oct. 16-18, 1510 Lab Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall. This piece is inspired by the world of classic sci-fi and tells the story of a team of “slumber-nauts” who trek through the hilarious and dangerous badlands of our collective “Dream Scape.” The production uses live music, projection art and physical theatrical techniques such as mime, object manipulation and cinematic theater.

In the Heights, directed by Luane Davis-Haggerty, Nov. 13-15, Robert F. Panara Theatre, LBJ Hall. With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and based on the book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, this production tells the universal story of a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind. In the Heights won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical.

THIS, written by deaf playwright Raymond Luczak and directed by Fred Beam, Feb. 26-28, 2021, in 1510 Lab Theatre. Curtis Higgs, a talented dancer cursed with low self-esteem, meets Dwight, a charismatic and funny hard-of-hearing dancer who is incredible onstage, yet exploitative of his friends offstage. It is through the hunger of wanting to be an unmistakable star like Dwight that Curtis learns the true value of friendship and gains faith in himself.

Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, directed by Andy Head, April 16-18, 2021, in Panara Theatre. It’s the 1980s. President Reagan sits in the White House while the AIDS crisis rages on. ​Caught in the middle are a Valium-addicted Mormon, her closeted lawyer husband, and two men ripped apart by an AIDS diagnosis. This is a story about fighting for survival, love, politics and God. In 1993, Angels in America, written by Tony Kushner, won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

All four productions are planned to be fully accessible for deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing audiences, whether using captions, American Sign Language in the performance, interpreters or a combination. Angels in America is not appropriate for children under 12. 

Tickets for performances in Panara Theatre—$5 for students, senior citizens and children under age 12; $10 for RIT faculty/staff/alumni; and $12 for the public—will be available through rittickets.com, by phone at 585-475-4121 or at the door two hours prior to curtain time. Performances in the 1510 Lab Theatre are free. Tickets will be released on Eventbrite.

For more information, go to the Performing Arts theatre program webpage.

New training program addresses need and training for interpreters of color

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A report from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf states that of the more than 10,000 sign-language interpreters that are registered nationally, a mere 13 percent identify as persons of color. Acknowledging this gap, a team at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has created a program that aims to equip interpreters of color to meet the demands of interpreting in a postsecondary environment, while boosting recruitment and retention efforts for interpreters of color.

The Randleman Program, named for Valerie Randleman, the first black interpreter in RIT’s Department of Access Services, was formed in 2019. According to founders, the two-year preceptor program addresses diversity challenges and anecdotal evidence that suggests that interpreters of color have a significantly different experience going through interpreter training programs than their white counterparts.

“Systematic norms catering to the success of the majority often adversely affect students of color,” explained Kristi Love-Cooper, a staff interpreter and Randleman Program coordinator. “These norms can manifest in oppressive, alienating ways that can make it difficult for interpreting students of color to succeed. By the time our protègès complete the Randleman Program, they will be able to successfully navigate the workplace, as well as have the tools to participate in inclusion initiatives in the workplace and the field of interpreting.”

Through the use of individualized mentoring, small group meetings, and professional development activities, the program helps interpreters continue to develop cognitive processing skills while interpreting, self-assessment skills using non-evaluative language, and grow confidence while interpreting in a postsecondary environment.

Since the inception of the program, the representation of Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) interpreters in the department has increased from 8 percent to 14 percent. Love-Cooper says that because of the program’s success, they have the opportunity to recruit three new protègès for the fall 2020 program due to the recent cohort having been hired for full-time positions.

The Randleman Program is also hosting its first symposium in March where speakers from across the United States will gather to discuss recruiting and retaining BIPOC interpreters in the field of interpreting.

“The successes of the Randleman Program would not have happened without the generous support and encouragement of NTID President Gerry Buckley,” added Love-Cooper. “We thank him for his leadership, vision and continued support.”  

Randleman retired from working as an interpreter after 35 years of service. She has interpreted for several notable figures, including Maya Angelou, former President Gerald Ford, Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, and many others.

The program is supported by NTID and the Department of Access Services. For more information, go to the Randleman Program webpage.


RIT/NTID alumna to perform National Anthem, ‘America the Beautiful’ in American Sign Language at Super Bowl, Feb. 2

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Internationally renowned performer, artist, and Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf alumna Christine Sun Kim ’02 (applied arts and sciences) will perform the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful” in American Sign Language as part of the Super Bowl LIV pregame festivities on Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

Born in California and now based in Berlin, Kim uses performance, video, drawing, writing, and technology to reflect on her experiences as part of the deaf community and to comment on the social and political operations of sound. A keen observer of language, Kim uses American Sign Language, music notation, televisual captioning, and other systems of visual communication that address the complexity of social exchange and the power of representation with humor and honesty.

The National Association of the Deaf and the National Football League work together to select who will perform prior to the game.

“I was a bit surprised when the National Association of the Deaf invited me to do the performance, and I’m very honored to do this,” said Kim. “I’ve done a number of lectures and performances, but never with such a huge audience like this. I have been nervous since day one, but I really enjoyed translating the National Anthem with my Deaf friends’ help and now it’s time to memorize every sign.”

While studying at RIT/NTID, Kim was a member of the NTID Student Congress, Student Life Team, and was a resident advisor. Of her time at RIT/NTID, Kim has said, “My experience has helped me on many levels and solidified my independence, interpersonal communication, and self-identity.”

After earning her undergraduate degree from RIT/NTID in 2002, she went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Kim has had solo exhibitions and performances at Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles; White Space Beijing; Carroll/Fletcher Project Space, London; and De Appel, Amsterdam. She has also had her work shown at Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal; Sound Live Tokyo festival; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, and MoMA PS1, New York. 

In 2015, Kim delivered a TED Talk titled “The enchanting music of sign language,” which has more than 400,000 views.

RIT’s online degree programs ranked among nation’s best in 2020

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Rochester Institute of Technology has been recognized for offering some of the best online programs in the nation.

The 2020 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs rankings, released today, featured RIT on its lists for business, computing, engineering and undergraduate online education. RIT ranked:

RIT also ranked on the list for “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs” as well as “Best Online Business Programs” for non-MBA graduate programs offered by Saunders College of Business.

“I am delighted that U.S. News and World Report is recognizing RIT’s online programs,” said Ellen Granberg, RIT’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Whether a student logs on in the U.S. or overseas, they can have access to a world-class education from RIT’s outstanding faculty. Our innovative programs not only prepare students for today’s competitive workplace, but for the challenges they’ll face tomorrow as well.”

U.S. News updated the methodology this year to give credit to schools that provide online help with course registration, admissions counseling and building a résumé. Ultimately, the rankings measure whether online degree programs have academic standards equal with quality brick-and-mortar programs and are properly adapted toward the unique pedagogy of distance education.

The rankings are based on data collected from the nation’s colleges and universities, which are then weighted by certain criteria, including engagement, expert opinion, faculty credentials and training, student excellence, and student services and technologies. Altogether, 1,600 online degree programs are cataloged in the U.S. News searchable directory—an all-time high.

While these rankings only pertain to full degree programs, RIT also offers a wide variety of online education opportunities designed around industry standards, employer demand and the perspectives of our global network through RIT Online.

For more information about earning a degree through RIT Online, go to RIT’s Online and Professional Education webpage.

The full rankings are available online at the U.S. News Best Online Programs Rankings website.

RIT/NTID alumna Wendy Maruyama to be featured on PBS series

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Craft in America: IDENTITY profiles artists who explore issues of gender, race, culture and place, offering true expressions of their experience in this world.

The documentary profiles Japanese American artist/educator and RIT/NTID alumna Wendy Maruyama who has become one of our country's most important and accomplished furniture makers.

IDENTITY premiers on PBS on Friday December 27th, along with the QUILTS episode. All episodes of Craft in America can be watched on www.craftinamerica.org and pbs.org/craft-in-america/home/





RIT Esports wins Hearthstone Collegiate Championship

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Students from RIT Esports bested more than 300 teams from across North America to win the 2019 Hearthstone Collegiate Championship Fall Finals on Dec. 14. The RIT student team took home the top trophy and $6,000 in scholarships for playing the digital card game Hearthstone. The live event brought together the final four teams in the tournament to play on stage at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., and streamed online on Twitch.

RIT has been a pioneer in the field of video game design and development, and offers both a bachelor's and master's degree. The university has been ranked one of the top schools in the world to study video game design for the past five years, according to international rankings from The Princeton Review. More.