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Milestones in NTID History

In 50 years, RIT/NTID has seen its fair share of change. Having gone from a group of 70 deaf and hard-of-hearing students who didn’t have a building to call their own to more than 1,200 students spread across a functional and attractive complex of buildings, backed by a worldwide population of more than 8,000 alumni, “transformation” could be considered an understatement for NTID. Here, we review only a few of the high points in the past 50 years, paying attention to common themes of leadership and growth in pursuit of NTID’s mission of ensuring employment for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Running through Dr. Frisina’s appointment as NTID’s first dean to Greg Pollock’s second election as president of RIT’s Student Government, overseeing the campus activities of more than 16,000 students, we can almost glimpse the road that RIT/NTID has been—and still is—traveling, as an institution and a community. One important note: You’ll see that the construction of the various buildings of NTID has been omitted from this timeline. That’s because this is a story about people. If you’d like to know more about the buildings of NTID, check out “The changing campus landscape.”

Early portrait of Dr. D. Robert Frisina


Dr. D. Robert Frisina begins his first year leading NTID.

Class portrait of NTID's charter class, 1968


NTID’s first class of admitted students—known as the “Charter Class”—begin classes.

Photo of four students holding a shovel piled with dirt at the NTID groundbreaking ceremony, 1971.


The groundbreaking ceremony for the NTID complex is held.

Photo of the first four members of the NSC Board of Directors.


The first NSC Board of Directors is elected; clockwise from bottom left: Mark Feder (SVP ‘71, ‘74, ‘76), vice president; Miriam Sotomayor (‘72), secretary; Jerry Nelson, president; and John Swan (SVP ‘70, ‘74, ‘76), treasurer.

Photo of Lady Bird Johnson, widow of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, kneeling next to a plaque at the dedication of LBJ Hall, 1974.


Lady Bird Johnson, widow of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, kneels next to a plaque at the dedication of LBJ Hall.

Portrait of Dr. William Castle, 1976.


Dr. William Castle is appointed NTID’s Dean.

Photo of female and male looking at listings in a phone book, 1978.


The NTID Center on Employment is established, solidifying NTID’s commitment to job placement for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Photo of student wrestling athlete, JT Reid, 1978.


John “JT” Reid graduates as the first deaf captain of an RIT varsity team (wrestling).

Photo of Dr. Robert F. Panara holding a dedication plaque with his wife, Shirley Panara, 1988.


The theater in LBJ Hall is named “Robert F. Panara Theatre” after Dr. Panara, pictured with his wife, Shirley.

Portrait of Dr. James DeCaro


James DeCaro, who served as NTID dean 1985-1998, is named dean and interim director of NTID. He was named interim president of NTID in 2010.

Portrait of Dr. Robert Davila


Dr. Robert Davila is appointed NTID’s first deaf—and Latino—vice president.

Portrait of Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz


Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz is appointed vice president and dean of NTID. In 2008, he was named NTID’s first president.

Photo of Elizabeth Sorkin signing at RIT's commencement ceremony.


Elizabeth Sorkin (SVP ‘99, ‘07) is elected the first deaf president of RIT’s Student Government.

Photo of Greg Pollack at RIT's commencement ceremony.


Greg Pollock (‘12) is the second deaf president of RIT Student Government—and the first to win a second term.

Portrait of Dr. Gerard J. Buckley


Dr. Gerard J. Buckley (‘78) becomes the first alumnus to be appointed leader of NTID.