NTID Breaks Ground for Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall

Members of the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund join RIT dignitaries at groundbreaking for Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall.
Story Highlights: 
  • Construction of Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall begins in the spring.
  • Expected completion is 2013.
  • The two-story, 23,000-square -foot building is intended for research and innovation for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
  • A $1.75 million donation is from the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund.


More than 100 RIT/NTID students, faculty and staff, alumni and members of the community gathered under a large white tent this afternoon for a ceremonial ground breaking on an $8 million, two-story, 23,000-square-foot building to be named Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall.

It was fortunate the event organizers erected the tent, because steady rain began to fall shortly before the ceremony.

“It can rain all it wants, but it will not dampen our enthusiasm for what we are dedicating today,” said RIT President Bill Destler.

Official construction of the building begins next spring, with an estimated completion in the spring of 2013. The building will bridge the Hettie L. Shumway Dining Commons to the NTID Residence Hall and will feature research centers and project areas, including an “Innovation & Entrepreneur’s Lab.”

The building is named for Sebastian and Lenore Rosica, who lived in the Buffalo area. Sebastian, also known as “Red,” worked as an audiologist for St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Buffalo for 40 years; Lenore, also known as “Lee,” was a speech therapist. They inspired others with their passion for new technology, education and deafness, and made connections with deaf and hard-of-hearing people of all ages in all walks of life, their family says.

Two of their six children, Mark and Dan Rosica, work at RIT. Lenore’s brother, William G. McGowan, was CEO of MCI Communications Corp. A foundation in McGowan’s name donated $1.75 million towards the new building.

His widow, Sue Gin McGowan, helped break ground for the building.

“Rosica Hall will amplify national and international knowledge and research in the field,” she said. “It will nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs, scientists, physicians and technology gurus – contributors and leaders who just happen to be deaf or hard of hearing.”

NTID President Gerry Buckley agreed

“Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall will transform the lives of those students who invent, research and grow within its walls,” he said. “I extend my deepest appreciation to the McGowan Fund for passing along the innovative spirit of Bill McGowan to countless deaf and hard-of-hearing students who may one-day change the world, as he did.”

Jim DeCaro, dean emeritus of NTID and director of NTID’s Center on Access Technology, recalled seeing many “firsts” on campus, and said he is proud to see this state-of-the-art facility fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and original research among faculty and staff, deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

“The importance of this center where the imagination of deaf and hard-of-hearing students can take flight cannot be overstated,” DeCaro said. “It is, quite simply, the path to a brighter future for those who will create and do research in Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall, and what those creations and research will mean to people who are deaf or hard of hearing throughout the world, as well as people who are hearing.”

Additional funding for the new facility is expected from donations, and the McGowan Fund established a $250,000 matching grant challenge for the project. For more information, visit www.ntid.rit.edu/rosica-hall.

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