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

22 Apr

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

22 Apr

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

 

No longer lost in translation: Videos depicting complex scientific concepts break barriers for deaf STEM students

4 Apr

On the left, a light skinned male in suit and tie, at right a light skinned female with long red hair in black sleeveless dress

Research has revealed that people who learn English as a second language, including deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, are underrepresented in STEM fields because of academic language abilities required to compete in those disciplines. A new project at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is helping to break down those obstacles specifically for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

Researchers at RIT/NTID will create and test a solution that addresses the academic language barrier in physics by producing a comprehensive series of short, conceptually accurate, signed videos, each of which is focused on a singular physics concept. As part of this process, the team will vet and share conceptually accurate signs for technical vocabulary. The project is funded by a $295,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

“Participation of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in STEM fields is limited due to the presence of significant academic language barriers,” confirmed principal investigator Jason Nordhaus, a theoretical astrophysicist and assistant professor at RIT/NTID. “In the college classroom, American Sign Language interpreters must choose the correct signs to indicate meaning of the concept being taught. At the same time, most interpreter training is focused on acquiring American Sign Language. It is rare for interpreters to be an expert in the language and STEM concepts. However, being experts in both is necessary to properly translate. Compounding the issue is a lack of conceptually accurate technical signs in STEM disciplines. Quite literally, information is lost in translation.”

Conceptual understanding will first be measured in RIT physics classrooms and then at two external partner universities. The result of the project will be a sustainable online repository where the videos are freely accessible and will be shared with national interpreting organizations and universities that have interpreter training programs.

“It is our hope that this project results in a template that can be repeated for any discipline, thereby permanently eliminating the academic language barrier and increasing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals’ engagement in STEM disciplines,” said co-investigator Jessica Trussell, assistant professor in the Master of Science in Secondary Education for Students who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing teacher preparation program at RIT/NTID.

Nordhaus is committed to increasing the participation of deaf individuals in physics and routinely involves deaf students in research work, including 11 undergraduate students and one doctoral student, thus far. He serves on, and is a founding member of, the executive committee for the American Astronomical Society’s Working Group on Accessibility and Disability.

Trussell, a member of RIT/NTID’s Center for Education Research Partnerships, has 12 years of experience teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing students from preschool age to adulthood. Her goal is to grow the number of deaf and hard-of-hearing people entering STEM fields by enhancing their discipline-based reading and writing skills.

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

2 Apr

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.

RIT honored nationally as ‘Diversity Champion’

1 Apr

Students gather on stone bench in front of a large building on a sunny day.

Rochester Institute of Technology is being honored nationally for its impact on diversity and inclusion. For the fourth consecutive year, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine named Rochester Institute of Technology a Diversity Champion.

Each year, INSIGHT Into Diversity recognizes selected institutions — those that rank in the top tier of Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award recipients — as Diversity Champions. These institutions exemplify an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs, and at the highest administrative levels. Diversity Champions are institutions that serve as role models and set the standard for thousands of other U.S. college campuses striving for inclusive excellence.

“RIT is a visionary leader among institutions of higher education striving for inclusive excellence throughout their campus,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “As a Diversity Champion school, RIT exceeds everyday expectations by developing successful strategies and programs that serve as models of excellence for other higher education institutions.”

In the fall, RIT earned the HEED Award, a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus. RIT was featured, along with 95 other recipients, in the November 2018 HEED Award issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“The strength of RIT’s character is built by a humble, continued commitment to building a climate of true respect, inclusivity and equity for all,” said Keith Jenkins, RIT’s vice president and associate provost for Diversity and Inclusion. “It is an honor to yet again be recognized as a Diversity Champion by INSIGHT. RIT’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion and our partners in departments, colleges and divisions across campus will continue to work diligently to provide more opportunities to learn, grow and succeed for underrepresented men, women and deaf and hard-of-hearing students, faculty and staff.”

RIT’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion features scholarship programs such as the McNair Scholars Program, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, the Higher Education Opportunity Program; academic support including the Multicultural Center for Academic Success, the Native American Future Stewards Program, the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, and the MOSAIC Center; and outreach programs like the Office for Faculty Diversity and Recruitment, Upward Bound Classic and Veterans Upward Bound.

For more information about the 2018 Diversity Champions, go to www.insightintodiversity.com/diversity-champions.