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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thomas Hargrave Jr. drove to Rochester last night from his home in Corning, N.Y., so his daughter, Megan Hargrave, an environmental sciences major at Rochester Institute of Technology, could move into her residence hall at 7 a.m. today.
“I hope she does all right,” the proud father said. “She’s never been away from home before other than two or three days. But she’s ready.”
More than 4,300 first-year, transfer and graduate students were expected and were greeted by more than 200 RIT student orientation leaders who helped families unload cars, put belongings in carts and wheel them to their rooms.
“We’re all about helping new RIT Tigers and their families,” said Eric Pope, associate director for New Student Orientation at a morning pep rally just prior to move-in. “You’re going to show students what it means to be an RIT Tiger.”
The freshmen are the most academically qualified class RIT has had, with an average SAT score exceeding 1300 for the second year in a row. Fifty-one students had a perfect SAT score, and 52 of the undergraduates ranked first in their high school graduating class.
The undergraduates are coming from 47 states; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; and 42 countries.
New graduate students are coming from 52 countries – the most outside the U.S. coming from India, China, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Taiwan.
A record number of incoming Ph.D. students – 90 of them – were also expected this year.
Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf wrapped up celebration of its 50th anniversary year with a commencement ceremony Saturday, May 11, in RIT’s Gene Polisseni Center.
A total of 350 students graduated, including 308 undergraduates and 42 graduate students. Among the undergraduates were 114 with associate degrees and 194 with bachelor’s degrees, including 33 from NTID’s ASL-English Interpretation program. The college’s master’s degree program in Health Care Interpretation graduated 12 students, and seven graduated from the master’s program in secondary education along with 23 students who graduated from master’s degree programs in the other colleges of RIT.
Israelle Johnson, a laboratory science technology major from Baltimore, Ohio, the college’s undergraduate delegate shared her experience with her fellow graduates.
“Through my education, I found this quote by Theodore Isaac Rubin, ‘Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.’ I started with the laboratory science technology program just to try science and see what would happen. Well, it stuck. I learned so much; normal science things and the complexity of science in the world. It has taught me many different perspectives. It taught me friendship, dedication, team work, independence, how to ask questions and find confidence in who I am.
“So be proactive, meet people, do self-care, volunteer, find your balance, explore your world, find the joy in being you. Do not let the challenges limit you.”
Jeanne D’Arc Ntiguliwa, a master’s in secondary education major from Rwanda and RIT/NTID’s graduate delegate, reflected on her academic journey.
“My ambition to be useful in this world led me to RIT/NTID. At RIT/NTID, for the first time in my academic journey, I had direct communication with my professors, asked questions, participated in group discussions and activities. It was a whole new experience. I am deeply indebted and thankful to NTID for all those experiences, and for exposing me to what a genuine inclusive world looks like.
“What dream can you accomplish now with your degree? Believe in yourself, be bold and creative and go make a difference! It is my hope that we all leave well-equipped to begin new chapters and that one day we will proudly look back and nostalgically say, ‘Yes, I made it, thank you RIT/NTID for empowering me.’”
Prior to graduation, 24 students and three faculty members were inducted into the Epsilon Pi Tau Honor Society, an international honor society for professions in technology. RIT/NTID has the first deaf chapter of this society.
Historically, 96 percent of RIT/NTID graduates, who work in all economic sectors, have found employment in their chosen fields within a year of graduation. Associate and bachelor’s degree graduates earn 95 and 178 percent more, respectively, than deaf and hard-of-hearing graduates from other postsecondary institutions.
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.”
Samuel Lum found several things in common with his faculty mentor, Robert Osgood, including excitement about research and a project that could save lives.
Osgood, an associate professor of biomedical sciences, and Lum have been working to decrease the incidence of hospital-associated catheter infections after each lost a family member to a preventable infection not long ago.
Lum’s background in mechanical engineering technology and Osgood’s microbiology expertise in studying biofilms provide the kind of multidisciplinary approach that could lead to identifying the genes most likely responsible for catheter infections. Knowing this could improve how future engineers like Lum produce better materials for devices. Their working relationship set Lum on his career path.
“Vascular and urinary catheters are the two most common types of catheters that are focal points in terms of healthcare infections,” said Lum, who is from New York, N.Y., and who will graduate this May from RIT’s College of Engineering Technology. “Engineers have tried to design antimicrobial catheters, but in reality, they are not working as well as they should be, regardless of funding dollars. What we have is a lack of understanding of the biology behind this, the pathogens themselves. We are asking how do we disrupt the infection process? We know something more about these challenges because of the interdisciplinary work we have done together.”
Lum has been very active in different research projects while at RIT, participating on teams consisting of engineering technology, chemistry and biomedical and chemical engineering students and faculty. Work on projects, such as the one with Osgood, could shift the way people think about processes in the healthcare industry, a career area he is intent on entering after graduation.
“This work is a combination of medicine, science and engineering. Many genes have been studied extensively in the past decade. I think this could be a major contribution to understanding how bacteria attach to other surfaces in general, and there are implications all over the place,” explained Lum.
“In microbiology, controlling contamination is everything," said Osgood, who also serves as director of the biomedical sciences program in RIT’s College of Health Sciences and Technology. "Having someone like Sam who has a high level of critical thinking, enthusiasm and is not afraid to be wrong about something is refreshing. Enjoying science means learning from the mistakes. If you come to see mistakes as opportunities to learn, whatever you are seeking to accomplish, will eventually happen."
“Professor Osgood is one of the best mentors I’ve ever had, and has basically transformed my career,” said Lum. “I have taken bold risks, and part of our discussions together enabled me to think that I could change the world. I’ve always wanted to do something like that, and we have had some of the boldest thoughts imaginable.”