Category Archives: Academics

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

two female students in graduation robes smiling and holding caps in the air.

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 Esports wins Hearthstone Collegiate Championship

Three males students wearing orange and black t-shirts with white stripes and black pants raise first-place trophy.

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.

RIT gifted 177-acre estate to expand research, educational offerings

Aerial view of large cabin and grounds surrounded by water.

Rochester Institute of Technology will use a substantial gift of real estate in Penfield to expand the university’s research and educational offerings in ecology, agriculture, sustainability and other fields.

Amy Leenhouts Tait and Robert C. Tait, Rochester natives and highly successful real estate entrepreneurs, have gifted to the university their 177-acre property, which includes a 60-acre lake and a private mile of Irondequoit Creek adjacent to Ellison Park. The site, home of a former Dolomite sand quarry, will be dedicated as the Tait Preserve of RIT.

“With this generous donation, the Tait family is providing RIT a transformative opportunity to expand our experiential education and research opportunities in many of our programs,” said RIT President David Munson. “The Tait Preserve of RIT will provide nearly endless possibilities for RIT and the broader community. We are deeply grateful to the Taits for their magnificent gift and commitment to this university and the Finger Lakes region.”

Over the past four years, the Taits have worked to clean up the abandoned industrial site and restore its natural beauty, constructing a 5,000-square-foot luxury lodge amidst its wooded hills and open meadows. The Leenhouts Lodge, named in honor of the Leenhouts family members, has geothermal heating and air conditioning, a chef’s kitchen, a massive stone fireplace and an open concept interior with huge sections of glass walls that mechanically open to the outdoor patios, firepit and view of the lake and surrounding hillsides.

“Bob and I are delighted that this property, which has special meaning to our family, will be loved and enjoyed for generations to come under the responsible stewardship of RIT,” Amy Tait said. “We are so inspired by RIT’s vision, which will benefit its constituents, the Penfield community, the broader region and potentially even the planet.”

The Tait Preserve of RIT is located 25 minutes from the RIT’s Henrietta campus and 10 minutes from downtown Rochester. Given its convenient location, RIT expects to use the facility for a wide variety of education, research and conservation activities including:

  • Environmental education and research, incorporating K-12 programming
  • Agriculture and aquaculture research and education, including sustainable agriculture and community engagement
  • Conservation, sustainability and urban ecology research and training
  • Events and hospitality community functions
  • Youth recreation

“With the Tait Preserve’s close proximity to downtown, we also see this as an opportunity to offer the City of Rochester’s K-12 students unique experiences they would not otherwise have access to,” said James Watters, RIT senior vice president for Finance and Administration and treasurer. “The Leenhouts Lodge will provide a first-class event center where we can engage the RIT and Rochester communities in ways that fascinate and inspire.”

RIT says it is committed to preserving and protecting the ecosystem and only anticipates adding infrastructure as required to maximize the site’s potential. Portions of the land have been earmarked for agricultural research and education to develop farming practices that benefit both the land and community.

 “The Tait Preserve’s local field sites will be highly advantageous for our environmental science and biology programs,” said Sophia Maggelakis, dean of RIT’s College of Science. “Exclusive and protected access to the property is particularly valuable, as it will give access of the available field sites to our faculty and undergraduate and graduate students to work on research projects in a number of areas such as ecology, agricultural biotechnology, wildlife management, plant biology, wetland biogeochemistry and geographic information systems, just to name a few.”

The Taits are longstanding business and community leaders. Bob and Amy Tait, together with Norman Leenhouts, co-founded Broadstone Real Estate in 2006, following their leadership roles at Home Properties. Their involvement with real estate and their demonstrated support of the community is modeled, in part, after Amy’s parents, Norman and Arlene Leenhouts, and Norman’s twin brother, Nelson Leenhouts, founders of Home Properties.

This is the second major gift the Taits have made to RIT. The former Rochester Savings Bank building, located at 40 Franklin St., was donated to RIT in 2012 by Amy and Robert Tait through Rochester Historic Ventures. The building, now called the RIT Downtown Center for Entrepreneurship, is home to RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, which provides business, mentoring and consulting services targeting new urban entrepreneurs or individuals who have an existing business or are hoping to launch a new business within the City of Rochester.

RIT is in the midst of “Transforming RIT: The Campaign for Greatness” which aims to raise $1 billion to fund the university’s future by attracting exceptional talent, enhancing the student experience, improving the world through research and discovery and leading future special initiatives. With this gift, the Campaign has now secured nearly $665 million in gifts, research grants and other support.

Rochester Institute of Technology will use a substantial gift of real estate in Penfield to expand the university’s research and educational offerings in ecology, agriculture, sustainability and other fields.

Amy Leenhouts Tait and Robert C. Tait, Rochester natives and highly successful real estate entrepreneurs, have gifted to the university their 177-acre property, which includes a 60-acre lake and a private mile of Irondequoit Creek adjacent to Ellison Park. The site, home of a former Dolomite sand quarry, will be dedicated as the Tait Preserve of RIT.

“With this generous donation, the Tait family is providing RIT a transformative opportunity to expand our experiential education and research opportunities in many of our programs,” said RIT President David Munson. “The Tait Preserve of RIT will provide nearly endless possibilities for RIT and the broader community. We are deeply grateful to the Taits for their magnificent gift and commitment to this university and the Finger Lakes region.”

Over the past four years, the Taits have worked to clean up the abandoned industrial site and restore its natural beauty, constructing a 5,000-square-foot luxury lodge amidst its wooded hills and open meadows. The Leenhouts Lodge, named in honor of the Leenhouts family members, has geothermal heating and air conditioning, a chef’s kitchen, a massive stone fireplace and an open concept interior with huge sections of glass walls that mechanically open to the outdoor patios, firepit and view of the lake and surrounding hillsides.

“Bob and I are delighted that this property, which has special meaning to our family, will be loved and enjoyed for generations to come under the responsible stewardship of RIT,” Amy Tait said. “We are so inspired by RIT’s vision, which will benefit its constituents, the Penfield community, the broader region and potentially even the planet.”

The Tait Preserve of RIT is located 25 minutes from the RIT’s Henrietta campus and 10 minutes from downtown Rochester. Given its convenient location, RIT expects to use the facility for a wide variety of education, research and conservation activities including:

  • Environmental education and research, incorporating K-12 programming
  • Agriculture and aquaculture research and education, including sustainable agriculture and community engagement
  • Conservation, sustainability and urban ecology research and training
  • Events and hospitality community functions
  • Youth recreation

“With the Tait Preserve’s close proximity to downtown, we also see this as an opportunity to offer the City of Rochester’s K-12 students unique experiences they would not otherwise have access to,” said James Watters, RIT senior vice president for Finance and Administration and treasurer. “The Leenhouts Lodge will provide a first-class event center where we can engage the RIT and Rochester communities in ways that fascinate and inspire.”

RIT says it is committed to preserving and protecting the ecosystem and only anticipates adding infrastructure as required to maximize the site’s potential. Portions of the land have been earmarked for agricultural research and education to develop farming practices that benefit both the land and community.

 “The Tait Preserve’s local field sites will be highly advantageous for our environmental science and biology programs,” said Sophia Maggelakis, dean of RIT’s College of Science. “Exclusive and protected access to the property is particularly valuable, as it will give access of the available field sites to our faculty and undergraduate and graduate students to work on research projects in a number of areas such as ecology, agricultural biotechnology, wildlife management, plant biology, wetland biogeochemistry and geographic information systems, just to name a few.”

The Taits are longstanding business and community leaders. Bob and Amy Tait, together with Norman Leenhouts, co-founded Broadstone Real Estate in 2006, following their leadership roles at Home Properties. Their involvement with real estate and their demonstrated support of the community is modeled, in part, after Amy’s parents, Norman and Arlene Leenhouts, and Norman’s twin brother, Nelson Leenhouts, founders of Home Properties.

This is the second major gift the Taits have made to RIT. The former Rochester Savings Bank building, located at 40 Franklin St., was donated to RIT in 2012 by Amy and Robert Tait through Rochester Historic Ventures. The building, now called the RIT Downtown Center for Entrepreneurship, is home to RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, which provides business, mentoring and consulting services targeting new urban entrepreneurs or individuals who have an existing business or are hoping to launch a new business within the City of Rochester.

RIT is in the midst of “Transforming RIT: The Campaign for Greatness” which aims to raise $1 billion to fund the university’s future by attracting exceptional talent, enhancing the student experience, improving the world through research and discovery and leading future special initiatives. With this gift, the Campaign has now secured nearly $665 million in gifts, research grants and other support.

 

RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf signs MOU with Beijing Union University

Two men and a woman sit at a table signing papers.

Administrators from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf and a delegation from Beijing Union University in China signed a Memorandum of Understanding at a ceremony Nov. 22, establishing a cultural and educational partnership between the two institutions.  

The Memorandum of Understanding will establish student and faculty exchange programs and short- and long-term teaching, learning, research, innovation, discovery and global outreach missions. The colleges also are exploring the feasibility of developing a center of excellence in deaf education with a focus on English language instruction, American Sign Language instruction, postsecondary preparation, access technology and related research.

Beijing Union University, established in 1985, is a comprehensive university attached to Beijing Municipality. Over the past 40 years, the university has become one of the largest universities in Beijing and focuses on undergraduate education while promoting coordinated development of postgraduate education, higher vocational education, continued education and international education. The Special Education College of Beijing Union University, established in 2000, is the first school offering inclusive education to disabled and non-disabled students in China.

Participating in the signing ceremony were Teng Xiangdong, professor and dean of the Special Education College at Beijing Union University; James Myers, associate provost, RIT Global Education; and Gerry Buckley, NTID president and dean.

NTID has set up or reinvigorated partnerships with four universities in the past two years. In addition to PEN-International and Pre-College Education Network (P-CEN) Program partners, NTID has more than 14 institution partners throughout the world, including partnerships with De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Philippines; Tianjin University of Technology, China; Changchun University, China; and University of Rwanda, Rwanda.

“Today’s agreement of cooperation between RIT/NTID and Beijing Union University marks a significant step forward in providing educational opportunities between our two great institutions,” said Buckley. “We look forward to working with the BUU delegates and developing collaborative coursework that will benefit deaf and hard-of-hearing students in China and the U.S.”

RIT/NTID students and faculty develop new app to enhance accessibility for museum visitors

Person holding a cell phone with numbers in pink on the screen.

A new app developed by students and faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is making its national debut at an exhibit at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester.

The app, known as MUSEAI, is a new self-guided tour platform designed to enhance accessibility for all visitors in museums. Visitors use the app by inputting a number that is placed next to the artwork, which will provide them with the information about a specific artwork, including descriptions, historical facts, media (video/audio) with captions and audio descriptions. More.

RIT named among top ‘green’ colleges by Princeton Review

Three wind turbines stand in front of glass building.

For the ninth consecutive year, Rochester Institute of Technology has been named one of the greenest universities by The Princeton Review. RIT moved up to No. 34 this year out of the 413 schools profiled in "The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2019 Edition." RIT is commended for its fervent focus on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified new construction, RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability, and serving as headquarters to the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute. More.

E. Philip Saunders gifts $7.5 million to RIT

stage with man at podium, interpreter to his side, three people sitting in chairs.

At an Oct. 29 celebration at Rochester Institute of Technology, E. Philip Saunders announced a $7.5 million gift to the business college that bears his name. Saunders, president and CEO of Saunders Management Co. and a longtime supporter of RIT, has gifted more than $25 million to the university. The latest transformational gift will be used to help fund a major renovation and expansion of the facilities in Max Lowenthal Hall, home of Saunders College of Business.

The gift will help add much-needed space to the college for innovative research in business disciplines, multidisciplinary student and faculty work, and experiential learning projects. The expansion will include learning laboratories, collaborative student spaces and room for the addition of the hospitality and service innovation programs to Saunders College. Plans are also underway to construct event spaces that will accommodate business conferences and speakers.

In July, majors in hospitality and tourism management and graduate majors in hospitality and tourism management, service leadership and innovation, and human resource development, as well as advanced certificates in organizational learning and service leadership and innovation, transitioned into Saunders College from the College of Engineering Technology. As a result of the transition, the programs contribute to a 10 percent growth in enrollment for Saunders College.

“My love for RIT goes back many years,” said Saunders. “I feel so good about the college. I am pleased that we are going to make another expansion here. This money is going to a good cause and will take Saunders College of Business and move it to the next level.”

RIT President David Munson thanked Saunders for his confidence in RIT’s work and for helping to craft the vision for Saunders College of Business. 

“Phil Saunders has helped set this college on a great path for almost 20 years, and we’re here to celebrate another leap forward for the Saunders College of Business,” said Munson. “Phil’s dedication to RIT and to this college has had a profound effect on our capacity to prepare the business leaders of tomorrow. We are grateful for his confidence in our work at RIT and in the Saunders College of Business, and I would like to call on the entire RIT community to join me in thanking Phil Saunders.”

Dean Jacqueline Mozrall thanked Saunders for his commitment and the impact that he continues to make on the university and its students.

“Saunders College has made significant strides over the past decade,” said Mozrall. “E. Philip Saunders helped initiate this unprecedented period of progress when he placed his trust in us by attaching his name to our business college in 2006. Phil invested in us, but has also committed his time and energy. He is an inspiration to us and this community. His spirit is a driving force in everything we do, and we cherish the active role he takes in helping us to pursue our mission and engage with our students, alumni, faculty and staff. It is truly an honor for us to be part of this amazing college that bears his name.”

In 2006, Saunders’ $13 million gift to the university boosted the visionary plans of RIT’s Saunders College. In 2010, he enhanced his support with an additional $5 million and a challenge to all Saunders College alumni and friends to raise $15 million to support future endeavors.

He also funded the E. Philip Saunders Endowed Business Scholarship, which has supported more than 85 undergraduate students since it was first awarded, and recently created a graduate endowed scholarship to expand graduate student learning and career potential. RIT student Kate Ferguson, a fourth-year finance and international business double major from Dansville, N.Y., and RIT alumna Rebecca Ward ’14 (accounting), ’15 (MBA), a senior accountant at Insero & Co., thanked Saunders and said the scholarship made their educations possible.

Saunders was named RIT’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year and also received the Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award in 2005 and the Nathaniel Rochester Society award in 2011.

A trustee emeritus of the university, Saunders created an empire of truck stops known as the TravelCenters of America Inc., which led to a lifetime of diversified interests in energy, auto and truck rental, recreation and tourism, packaged foods, property management, banking and business ventures.

Today, Saunders College enrolls more than 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in programs across RIT global campuses in Rochester, N.Y.; Croatia; Dubai; and China. Saunders College works in partnership with RIT’s entrepreneurial Venture Creations incubator and top-ranked Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to integrate business education with RIT’s world-leading technical and creative programs. With more than 25,000 alumni worldwide, Saunders College offers undergraduate, master’s, Master of Business Administration, and Executive MBA programs where students gain real-world business experiences through a tradition of applied learning, internships and capstone programs.

Saunders College’s online Executive MBA program was named the top online Executive MBA program in the country and in the top 10 online MBA programs in the nation by Poets&Quants, a leading resource for coverage of graduate business education. Saunders College undergraduate programs were recently ranked No. 66 in the nation in the 2020 edition of U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges, making it the top undergraduate business program in western New York.

This gift is another contribution to Transforming RIT: The Campaign for Greatness, a $1 billion university fundraising effort.

Student Spotlight: Making discoveries abroad with NTID

Two images of light-skinned female with glasses and long hair in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

Looking to learn more about the roots of American deaf culture, fourth-year student Grace Bradford went on a study abroad trip to France. From June 24 to July 4, the ASL/English interpretation and School of Individualized Study (SOIS) double major traveled with other NTID students to Paris, Reims, La Balme-les-Grottes and Lyon.

During the trip and the accompanying spring semester course, Bradford and her peers learned more about French deaf studies, deaf communities and culture. Additionally, they learned Langue des Signes Française (LSF) so the students could communicate with their French peers in their native sign language during the trip.

Bradford’s SOIS concentrations are in history, museum studies and environmental sustainability, and she hopes to apply her skills as an interpreter in a national park or museum setting. Outside of her studies, Bradford is involved with Hands of Fire (a deaf chapter of RIT CRU), the RITPagan club, the Outing club and SVP (freshman orientation for NTID students). She also works part time for REI, and works with RIT Catering and RIT’s Department of Access Services as an interpreter and notetaker.

To learn more about the NTID study abroad programs, go to https://www.ntid.rit.edu/academics/study-abroad. For more information about other study abroad opportunities, go to https://www.rit.edu/academicaffairs/global/study-abroad.

Question: Why are you interested in pursuing a career in ASL interpretation?

Answer: This is a question that deaf people will often ask interpreting students and I can never give an eloquent answer. I have nothing better to say, than it’s a calling. I graduated from high school in East Tennessee and later moved to Indiana, and in both places I had exposure to the deaf community. Through those experiences, I just fell in love with the culture and the language, and I just knew that was what I wanted to do. Since I was 12 years old, I knew I wanted to be a combat medic in the U.S. Army and that I wanted to be an interpreter, and here I am doing both. I got out of the Army in 2014, so the events didn’t quite happen in the sequence I wanted it to, but I am still fulfilling my dreams.

Why were you interested in going on this particular NTID study abroad experience?

A little-known fact about American deaf culture is that it actually has its roots in France. Thomas Gallaudet worked closely with a man named Laurent Clerc when he went over to France. Clerc came back with Gallaudet to the U.S. and helped him set up the first deaf school. So, a lot of our linguistic features, at least in the beginning stages, had strong echoes of French Sign Language (LSF). This trip was a great opportunity to see where American deaf culture and its roots come from. We had the opportunity to get a tour of the first deaf school in the world, we saw the boyhood home of Laurent Clerc, and a lot of other sites that are incredibly historically significant to deaf culture. With my background in history, I was really nerding out.

Tell us about the class that you took that accompanied your study abroad.

We briefly discussed major tipping points in French history, such as the Revolution, as well as some prominent French deaf figures. We also took time to learn LSF before going on the trip. While there are minor similarities, LSF and ASL are two completely different languages, so it wasn’t necessarily easy to pick up the second language. I would equate it to learning Spanish as an English speaker. Once you’re over there for a couple weeks, you start getting the hang of it and you can have basic conversations. I’m definitely not fluent, but now I know basic phrases to communicate with when I go back.

What was your favorite part about this study abroad experience?

Academically, I think, because I have a linguistic nerdy mind, my favorite part was learning LSF. We didn’t have the time to get too deep into it, but I really cherish learning other languages. If it were possible, I would learn them all. Anytime I travel I just have so much fun learning different phrases and communicating with the locals.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I’m not entirely sure, life always has its curve balls. I reckon I’ll probably stay here for a few years and get some interpreting experience under my belt because this is such an amazing place to be for that. Then, when I am ready, I would like to do an internship at Yosemite National Park and get my ranger certification. I’m really interested in making national parks more accessible for everyone, and right now access services are lacking for those who are deaf and hard of hearing. So, hopefully after Yosemite, I’ll move on and be able to set up full-time access services within the National Park Service.

RIT receives multiple accolades for promoting diversity and inclusion

African American male faculty showing scientific slides to three African American female students. All are in blue lab coats.

Two national organizations focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in higher education recently presented Rochester Institute of Technology with multiple awards for the university’s work in the field.

RIT received the 2019 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. As a recipient of the annual HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — RIT will be featured, along with 92 other recipients, in the November 2019 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. This is the sixth year in a row RIT has been named as a HEED Award recipient.

For the third year in a row, RIT is being honored as an institution committed to diversity for 2019 by Minority Access Inc. Minority Access is a nonprofit organization committed to increasing diversity, decreasing disparities and reducing incidences of environmental injustices. Each year the organization identifies exemplary colleges and universities whose commitment to diversity and efforts to implement it serve as an example for other institutions. Fewer than 200 colleges and universities nationwide were recognized by the organization this year. Minority Access will make a formal presentation in recognition of RIT’s commitment at their National Role Models Conference, Sept. 26–29 in National Harbor, Md.

Professor André Hudson, head of RIT’s Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences, is among the individuals Minority Access will celebrate at the National Role Models Conference this year. Hudson is trained as a biochemist and his research focuses on biochemistry and microbiology, specifically, in amino acid metabolism, structural analyses of enzymes involved in amino acid and bacterial peptidoglycan metabolism, and the isolation, identification and genomic characterization of plant-associated bacteria. The organization aims to identify and recognize inspirational role models in various categories to inspire others to emulate them, and thereby increase the pool of scholars and professionals who will find cures for illnesses or solve technological problems or address social disparities in society.

“We are honored to be recognized nationally for our tireless work providing more underrepresented men, women and deaf and hard-of-hearing students, faculty and staff opportunities to learn, grow and succeed,” said Keith Jenkins, RIT’s vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion. “Congratulations to Professor Hudson and the countless other RIT community members who work tirelessly to make RIT a diverse and inclusive community.”  

Earlier this year, RIT was named a Diversity Champion by INSIGHT Into Diversity for the fourth consecutive year. The magazine named RIT a Diversity Champion for its cumulative efforts in the area of diversity and inclusion throughout its campus communities, across academic programs and at the highest administrative levels. RIT was one of the first colleges and universities in the nation to receive this designation given by INSIGHT into Diversity.