Category Archives: Campus Events

RIT’s record 4,200 graduates challenged to ‘enrich the world’

Students dressed in graduation caps, gowns, hoods and stoles line up as three females get their photo taken by male with phone.

More than 4,200 students graduated today at Rochester Institute of Technology, an all-time high. The graduates include 41 Ph.D. students – also a record high – and graduates at international RIT campuses in Croatia, Kosovo, Dubai, and for the first time, Weihai, China.

Keynote speaker John Seely Brown, former chief scientist of Xerox Corp. and director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), told graduates they are entering “The Imagination Age, an age that calls for new ways to see, to imagine, to think, to act, to learn and one that also calls for us to re-examine the foundations of our way of being human, and what it means to be human.”

RIT President David Munson said the imagination shown on the RIT campus is a result of RIT leveraging its strengths in technology, the arts and design to produce graduates in every discipline capable of practicing transformative innovation that serves the greater good.

“Today’s world needs people who know how to create and innovate, analyze and implement, collaborate and lead,” Munson said. “Creativity begins with people, and at RIT, we have an unusual assembly of exceptional minds.”

Munson said RIT intends to capitalize on the distinctiveness of RIT to further cement its role in higher education.

“We represent creativity and innovation in all fields, with a strong culture of making,” he said. “We make things that never existed before, whether those things are physical objects, digital media, original processes or breakthrough concepts or ideas. And we put those things into use. That’s called innovation.”

Munson told the graduates they should “wake up tomorrow not solely focused on how to earn a living, rather that you go out to do your best to enrich the world. RIT alumni – now 130,000 strong with you included – are emblematic of goodness.”

Munson presented an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Brown, “for his inspiration through leadership in the fields of information technology, innovation and organizational learning; for his research in the fields of deep learning, digital youth culture and digital media; and for championing the spirit of innovation, creativity and disruptive thinking that has impacted and inspired so many.”

Brown’s history with Xerox dates back decades, and he witnessed the advent of the ethernet, personal computing, graphical user interfaces and more.

“Those were truly exciting times,” he said. “I feel fortunate to have been part of it. Quite honestly though, I now feel a bit envious for those of you graduating today. Back then, nearly 50 years ago, it was the beginning of the Information Age and it wasn’t that hard to invent or build super-cool things. … Your learning has just started as you graduate here today.”

Brown gave graduates a quote from Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

He left them with a final thought: “It is my hope that those of you graduating today will not forget the gift of the intuitive mind that is the playground of the imagination.”

Student Government President Bobby Moakley, who received a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, told a personal account of his parents being told that he was deaf when he was a year old.

“The doctors had told them that I was never going to live a ‘normal life,’ that I was going to live in exclusion from society and that I would likely never graduate from high school,” he said. “Now, here I am graduating from college, along with hundreds of other deaf and hard-of-hearing students, thanks to my parents and everyone who worked for us to succeed. As youth, we have depended on leaders to guide us through life. As we graduate, we become the generation to run the world – the generation to define the world. It is now our time to become the leaders, to become the ones inspiring future generations to build upon our work and thrive.”

Jordan Shea, a computer science major from Tolland, Conn., gave the undergraduate student address. He credits RIT’s policies of inclusiveness for allowing students to be themselves.

“I could see a person juggling, people tightrope walking, or even someone strutting around as a dinosaur and it wouldn’t even faze me,” he said. “To live in such an environment is a luxury. There are not many places that give you the opportunity to re-invent yourself or embrace who you are like RIT does. No one seems to be afraid of themselves.”

He said by only associating with people like himself, he’d “lose out on all the other perspectives that I knew other RIT students had to offer. … Wherever you end up going, I ask that you continue to celebrate this inclusiveness, the inclusiveness that is RIT.”

RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf enters partnership with Changchun University

One female and two males sitting at a table are signing documents with US and China flags on the table.

Administrators from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf and a delegation from Changchun University in China signed a Memorandum of Understanding at a ceremony May 6 establishing a cultural and educational partnership between the two institutions. 

The Memorandum of Understanding will establish student and faculty exchange programs in the art and design fields. The colleges also are exploring a joint degree program in graphic design and 3D graphic technology. RIT/NTID’s Center for International Educational Outreach (IEO) is hosting the delegation.

Changchun University was one of RIT/NTID’s former Postsecondary Education Network-International partners. After the PEN-International program ended, Changchun University administrators reached out to re-engage in a new partnership. Separately, IEO will be hosting a contingent of Changchun students in August for NTID’s New Signers Program through the college’s American Sign Language and Interpreting Education program.

The Changchun delegation at the signing ceremony included the Party Secretary, Special Education College Director and Professor of Foreign Languages, along with Ellen Granberg, RIT provost; Gerry Buckley, NTID president; Jim Myers, associate provost; Gary Behm, associate dean; and IEO staff.

NTID has established or renewed partnerships with four universities in the past two years, with a fifth in progress. Including 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; University of Rwanda, Rwanda; and Beijing Union University, China (in progress).

“These partnerships are instrumental in giving our students global enrichment experiences that will make them even more marketable upon graduation,” said Buckley. “In addition, these partnerships have led to several new research projects and grants in accessibility, sign language, deaf education and STEM education with our faculty and students. Moreover, we have been able to attract a number of talented international students to study at RIT/NTID, which further enhances the diversity of our student body and broadens everyone’s perspectives.” 

RIT/NTID’s Hall among 2019 Legacy Leaders

Dark skinned female with long locs wearing white shirt and grey jacket.

RIT/NTID's Jalon Hall was among the graduating seniors recognized as part of the Legacy Leadership program of RIT's Center for Women and Gender and the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement. 

Hall, an Applied Arts & Sciences major from Denham Springs, Louisiana, is active with RIT's Women of Color, Honor and Ambition and the Multicultural Center for Academic Success. She also is a student representative with NTID's Student Life Team. She was Miss Black Deaf Louisiana 2013-2015. 

The Legacy Leadership program recognizes the achievements and leadership of RIT graduating women students. Students are self-nominated and must obtain two letters of support detailing their civic responsibility and leadership. 

The selected Legacy Leaders attended the 2019 Women’s Career Achievement Dinner held on April 22, 2019, in the Gordon Field House as guests of the Center for Women and Gender and Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement.

RIT: Creativity and Innovation Festival shows off talents to thousands

Two children explore one of the interactive exhibits

There’s always something new to experience at the Imagine RIT: Creativity and Innovation Festival, which this year featured more than 400 exhibits, including a human hamster wheel, performances by student ensembles, cutting-edge video games and demonstrations to determine how color can affect your mood. More.

President David Munson to again emcee performing arts challenge on eve of Imagine RIT

Scene from Cabaret with Victoria Covell on shoulders of two actors with other actors in front and back.

Proving that RIT students are stars not only inside the classroom but on the stage as well, President David Munson will emcee his second performing arts competition next Friday night on the eve of the Imagine RIT: Creativity and Innovation Festival.

Ten acts, including dancers, vocalists and instrumentalists, have been selected as finalists for Dr. Munson’s Performing Arts Competition. The challenge will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 26, under the lights inside Ingle Auditorium on the RIT campus. Like all festival events, admission is free for the all-ages show.

Winners will be announced at the conclusion of the competition and will be eligible to perform during the festival’s official opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 27, also inside Ingle.

The challenge is open to all RIT undergraduate- and graduate-level students, with the exception of established performing arts groups. This year’s panel of judges will include Leigh Rubin, who has drawn Rubes cartoons for more than 30 years. Rubin is serving as RIT’s “cartoonist in residence” this year. Judges will score each performance on artistry, technique, audience engagement and stage presence. 

Two of the inaugural challenge’s top finishers from last April are scheduled to perform prior to the announcement of this year’s winners. Victoria Covell, a third-year biomedical sciences major from Jacksonville, Ill., and Gabrielle Robinson, a fourth-year interpreting student from Westerville, Ohio, will collaborate on a duet from "Cabaret," the award-winning Broadway play that later became a hit film.

At the conclusion of last year’s competition, Munson said he looked forward to making the performing arts challenge an annual tradition before Imagine RIT. The nationally acclaimed festival, now in its 12th year, runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 27, with nearly 400 exhibitions highlighting RIT students’ innovation and creativity.

Go to https://www.rit.edu/imagine/contests-performing_arts.php for more information.

Imagine RIT: Innovation + Creativity Festival

RIT Logo with images from previous Imagine RIT events, Imagine logo at bottom left and text

Pull back the curtain on the unexpected and extraordinary at Imagine RIT

It's that time of the year again! Imagine RIT: Creativity + Innovation Festival is happening this weekend on Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and it's going to be one you don't want to miss!

This year features nearly 400 interactive presentations, exhibits, research projects, hands-on demonstrations, and live performances and is absolutely free and open to the public, rain or shine!

Parking is available on RIT's Campus and at Monroe Community College with a free shuttle service to RIT.

Learn more and check out the entire festival program at www.rit.edu/imagine

#ImagineRIT #CreativityandInnovation

 

RIT/NTID hosts “Signing Time” free family concert May 3

light skinned female with brown hair wearing orange shirt and jacket signing ILY.

Rachel Coleman, musician and star of the popular PBS and video series Signing Time, will perform a free show at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, in the Robert F. Panara Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall. Joining her on stage will be Coleman’s daughter Leah, an industrial design major at RIT/NTID, and her show sidekick, Hopkins the Frog.

Upon discovering that her 14-month old daughter was deaf, Coleman began searching for ways to develop her language and communication skills. Coleman found that by learning sign language, her daughter’s vocabulary rapidly increased.

Coleman and her sister began creating videos for children to learn American Sign Language and started a production company and foundation dedicated to making sign language fun and accessible to all children.

Originally a series on PBS, Signing Time featured Coleman’s daughter Leah and nephew Alex, and ran for two years. The series continued and expanded through online videos.

“It is so exciting to be performing at NTID,” Coleman said. “Signing Time started when my deaf child, Leah, was four years old and in preschool. Over the past 18 years, many of Leah’s peers have grown up watching Signing Time. It feels like we’ve come full circle doing an NTID Signing Time concert now that Leah is a senior in college.”

Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance by emailing Joseph Fox, NTID theater production assistant, at jwfnpa@rit.edu.
 

NTID rededication ceremony celebrates 50 years of deaf education

Light skinned female and male unveil replica of a large plaque that's on an easel.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf celebrated 50 years since the establishment of the world’s first technological college for deaf students with a rededication ceremony April 5, in Panara Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall.

In addition to RIT/NTID faculty, staff, retirees, alumni and students, attendees included members of the original faculty and class of NTID students from 1968; local, state and federal government officials; and Lucinda Robb, granddaughter of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1965, President Johnson signed Public Law 89-36, allowing for the creation of NTID. The rededication marks the first time that a relative of President Johnson has visited the campus since Lady Bird Johnson visited in 1974 for the dedication of NTID’s main academic building, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall.

“We are so honored to have you here with us to celebrate 50 years of NTID and the foresight and leadership of your grandfather and members of Congress to establish this great college,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president, to Robb during the ceremony. “As you can see here today, the legacy of your grandfather does not only appear in history books. He continues to be honored by five decades of students and their families who have benefitted from the educational opportunities provided to them by NTID.”

During the presentation, Robb unveiled a prototype of a plaque that will hang near Panara Theatre. A proclamation from New York State Sen. Rich Funke was read in recognition of NTID’s accomplishments and U.S. Congressman Joseph Morelle displayed a statement to the U.S. Congressional Record. Buckley also acknowledged federal, state and local government officials, members of RIT’s Board of Trustees and NTID’s National Advisory Group, representatives from New York state schools for the deaf and other leaders in deaf education, and NTID faculty, staff, students, alumni and retirees.

A video greeting was provided by U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer.

“Congratulations to all of the staff and students and alumni of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as you celebrate an amazing 50 years. I’m so proud that NTID has become one of the great American institutes educating our students for the 21st century economy. The Rochester region, in particular, has been enriched thanks to NTID’s contributions and graduates, many of whom stay in Rochester to live, work and create new businesses that propel our region’s economy forward. Your success is remarkable.”

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sent remarks. “Although I am not with you in person, I join you in spirit to celebrate this remarkable anniversary, to honor the extraordinary efforts of the founding members of NTID, and to recommit ourselves to the mission of this incredible institution for the next 50 years. I have seen firsthand the excellent and high quality education each NTID student receives by having three interns from NTID in my Washington, Long Island and Rochester offices. NTID has empowered deaf and hard-of-hearing people to make history and to change our communities for the better…I know NTID will continue to educate, employ and embolden deaf and hard-of-hearing leaders for years to come.”

Robb, who is the daughter of Lynda Bird Johnson Robb and former Sen. Chuck Robb, worked as director of recruiting at The Teaching Company and is currently writing a book on the tactics of the women’s suffrage movement. She is a director on the board of the National Archives Foundation, the Arlington Food Assistance Center in Virginia, and Communities in Schools of NOVA. In 2016, she started KidsGiving, a project to encourage philanthropy in children. She occasionally writes book reviews for the Washington Post.

“It’s truly an honor to be here at NTID and to learn about the rich heritage of this great college. Knowing that my family played a part in that history fills me with such pride,” said Robb. “They would be so proud of what has been accomplished in just 50 short years at NTID—graduates from all states and from countries around the world who now work in business, industry, government, non-profits and the performing and visual arts – and who make their communities richer by their presence and their contributions. On behalf of my entire family, thank you for inviting me to join you in this celebration today, and for all that you do to honor my grandfather’s legacy.”

New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul stressed the value of RIT/NTID graduates. "This is an institution with its beautiful alliance, its marriage, with RIT that sends people out into the world prepared to accept life’s challenges. But not just to better their own lives, but truly to better the lives of others."

Rep. Morelle shared his appreciation for the quality of instruction at NTID.

“I want to congratulate everyone at NTID, as well as the greater Rochester community, for 50 years of excellence,” said Morelle. “Thank you to the many educators, interpreters, faculty and staff who work tirelessly every day to provide a world-class education for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. NTID provides a transformative education that allows deaf and hard-of-hearing students to thrive and reach their full potential. With almost 9,000 alumni, NTID continues to open doors and break down barriers for the deaf community. I am so proud to represent a community that is home to such incredible institutions like RIT and NTID that are truly changing the world for the better.”

Throughout the ceremony, several featured guests recalled fond memories of Lady Bird Johnson who came to campus in 1974 to dedicate LBJ Hall. Alumnus Robert Sidansky, who was president of NTID Student Congress in the 1970s, accompanied Lady Bird Johnson on a tour of the building and spoke with her about the services that NTID provided.

“She was about to leave to catch her airplane, when she turned around and said, ‘It was great meeting you. Thank you, Bob.’ I was awed that she remembered my name. With her brief visitation at NTID, she taught me the importance of recognizing people’s names as an essential part of leadership.”

Frank Sklarsky spoke on behalf of RIT’s Board of Trustees. “We, as trustees, greatly value the national and international recognition that NTID has gained in its own right and has also brought to RIT, and are grateful for the role NTID continues to play in making our university world class. NTID is truly a brilliant jewel of the RIT family and a source of inspiration and pride for all of us.”

The event also featured a video showcasing NTID’s history and a performance by Sunshine 2.0, a four-member traveling theatrical troupe from NTID that entertains and educates audiences about the deaf experience.

RIT Student Government President Bobby Moakley, an environmental science major from Boston, spoke briefly about the next generation of NTID students.

“We, the newest generation of RIT/NTID Tigers, are dedicated to honoring the legacy of the past 50 years, while at the same time blazing our own trail for the future of the college,” said Moakley. “RIT/NTID is an extremely unique environment in that we are leading in the integration of deaf, hard of hearing and hearing communities. Every day at our university is a learning experience for everyone here. NTID has been, and will continue to be, a place of creativity, enabling deaf students to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

RIT/NTID Presents ‘Signing Time Live” a family concert with Rachel Coleman

Stage with life-size frog character, colorful balloons and female in jeans and orange top.

RIT/NTID's Office of the President presents: Signing Time Live, a Family Concert!

Sing and sign your favorite Signing Time songs with hosts, Rachel Coleman, RIT/NTID student Leah Coleman and their sidekick, Hopkins the Frog, at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 3 in the Robert F. Panara Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, on the RIT campus. This family-friendly concert is approximately one hour in duration. 

Rachel Coleman is the creator of the popular "Signing Time!" series available online and in rotation on PBS stations. 

Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance by contacting Joseph Fox at jwfnpa@rit.edu
 

RIT/NTID student Bobby Moakley and RIT’s James Myers to receive this year’s Alfred Davis awards

On left, a younger light-skinned male with brown hair and beard, on right an older light-skinned male with brown hair.

A graduating RIT/NTID student leader who has been engaged in public service, student government and environmental stewardship has been named a winner in this year’s Alfred L. Davis Distinguished Public Service Awards. Bobby Moakley, of Boston, a fourth-year environmental science major and graduate student in science, technology and public policy, will receive the 2019 Bruce R. James Award.

The awards will be given at a public ceremony at 4 p.m. Wednesday in University Gallery in Booth Hall.

Moakley, who serves as president of RIT Student Government, has been an avid participant in leadership and community service projects. Last month he participated in RIT’s Alternative Spring Break, traveling to Florida, where his group did disaster relief from Hurricane Michael and helped with coastline reparations.

Kaitlin Stack Whitney, visiting assistant professor in the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences, submitted a nomination for Moakley, saying he used project opportunities in her class “to learn more about Rochester’s environment and human communities. He is a thoughtful and engaged student who wants to learn more about the world around him and seizes those opportunities. This work connects to his goals as a student and future professional – he works at the intersection of environmental and social justice issues.”

Moakley also has been a pioneering member of Into the ROC, an RIT program that connects students with city communities, learning experiences and service opportunities.

“Bobby is motivated by what connects people and changes the world,” Stack Whitney said. “He does so much community service to and for RIT because he’s committed to the campus people and to making this the best campus experience for everyone, not just himself. He clearly enjoys getting to think and do with so many people around campus—students, faculty, staff and administrators. Being a collaborator and succeeding at it, as a true peer—with those diverse teams helps remind him that he can do anything once he graduates.”

David Bagley, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, said Moakley, as Student Government president, “has already tackled several campus issues and has created a collaborative culture and positive environment. His personal experiences and passion for the Rochester area have greatly impacted his endeavors as an agent of public service. He truly understands the importance of public service and constantly identifies avenues/platforms to promote and assist others along his journey.”

He said Moakley’s passion for helping others and his natural abilities as an influencer “positively encourage other students to engage in public service. … I hold Bobby in the highest regard as he is always a role model to others in our community and exemplifies what a great student leader should be. We are lucky to have Bobby on our campus. He continues to be a strong voice and a positive change agent.

“It’s such an honor to receive this award and to be recognized for some of my public services,” Moakley said. “It further encourages me to continue serving the community and contributing my skills to those in need.”

Moakley will donate the $1,000 he earns from the award to the Ibero-American Development Corporation, which renovates and manages buildings and affordable homes in Rochester. He spent last summer working for them as an urban fellow.

Also receiving an award is a dedicated Rochester Institute of Technology administrator who helped expand RIT’s global presence as well as being an active community volunteer locally and in Haiti. James Myers, associate provost for International Education and Global Programs, will receive the 2019 Four Presidents Distinguished Public Service Award. Myers joined RIT in 1988 as an instructor in the School of Food, Hotel and Travel Management. He left RIT to obtain his doctorate in natural resource economics, and returned in 1999, when he became the first academic associate dean of RIT’s American College of Management and Technology in Croatia, and later professor and director of the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies. He currently is associate provost of International Education and Global Programs.

Myers has been an active community volunteer for more than 30 years. He is chairman of the board of directors for Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa (H.O.P.E.), a nonprofit organization that supports health, sanitation and economic development in a rural community in northern Haiti.

He also has been an active member in a marathon training program for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Western New York.

“Jim is widely recognized and highly respected across all of RIT’s campuses,” said International Student Services Director Jeffrey Cox in one of the nominations for the award. “Jim does not engage in any of these efforts for personal recognition or advancement, but is a true believer in trying to make the world a better place. He has a very big heart, but also applies a sharp intellect and creative and highly collaborative approaches to bringing about concrete solutions to vexing social issues – particularly in areas of the globe that are struggling to recover from war or natural disaster.”

Myers said winning the award is “humbling. I was honored to be nominated. I never imagined I’d ever receive it. I do this work because I love it, and the work itself is the reward I receive. That is why I do it.”

He also credits RIT for being “so supportive and generous for recognizing community service work.”

Myers will receive $2,500 as part of the award. He plans to give $2,000 of it to HOPE, and split the remainder between the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Cancer Wellness Center.

About the awards:

  • The Bruce R. James ’64 Award was named after James, chair emeritus of the RIT Board of Trustees. The award recognizes a student for exemplary public service within RIT and/or the wider Rochester community. Its purpose is to highlight one of RIT’s own hidden heroes while also encouraging other students to engage in public service.
  • The Four Presidents Distinguished Public Service Award Fund was created by Alfred L. Davis on the occasion of the 65th year of his association with RIT, to commemorate the dedication of the four RIT presidents with whom he worked, in their service to the Rochester community. The purpose of this award is to honor the four presidents, Mark Ellingson, Paul Miller, M. Richard Rose, and Albert Simone, with whom Mr. Davis served at RIT, and to recognize a current member of the faculty or staff who, through his/her public service, mirrors the lives of the four presidents, who have been not only outstanding professionals but also caring members of the community. Davis died in 2008.