Speeches and Testimony

Statement by

Robert R. Davila
Vice President
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Rochester Institute of Technology

Before the

U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations

On the

Fiscal Year 2001 Request for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf

March 16, 2000


Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:

I am pleased to present the President's fiscal year 2001 budget request for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), one of seven colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), provides a continuum of learning and living options for approximately 1,100 students who are deaf and hard of hearing on a campus of more than 13,000 students. NTID was created by Congress to provide postsecondary technical education for the Nation's youth who are deaf to prepare them for successful employment in the economic mainstream of America. I believe NTID has fulfilled this mandate with distinction and extremely positive results for the past 32 years.

We support the President's fiscal year 2001 request of $51.786 million for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The specifics of the fiscal year 2001 request are as follows.

Budget Request

The fiscal year 2001 request includes $46.41 million for operations and $5.376 million in construction funds to cover the cost of phase two of the planned three-phase dormitory renovation project expected to cost a total of $13.568 million. We are extremely pleased that the Department has requested funds for the second phase of this project. RIT is in the process of upgrading all of its dormitories, including dormitories serving NTID students. Most of the dormitories on the campus are 20 to 30 years old and are in need of extensive modernizing and refurbishing.

Funds received by NTID for tuition, room and board, and fees are expected to generate $300,000 in additional income in 2001 above the total expected in 2000 due to a decision NTID has made to increase tuition charges by 3 percent for the next academic year. Room, board, and fees will increase, but only to cover increased costs. We estimate that the Federal appropriation for NTID will constitute approximately 81 percent of funding for operations in 2001.

Strategic Plan

In 1990, NTID undertook a strategic planning process to create a vision and plan of action to carry it into the 21st century. The strategic plan is a blueprint for NTID's future. It focused our available resources on students, called for a complete reorganization of the institution, and prescribed a comprehensive and coordinated assessment and revitalization of NTID's academic programs and curriculum.

We stand before this Committee as a fiscally healthy and vibrant academic institution. We are well positioned for the year 2001 and beyond. We can do this in the face of major change and limited resources because we anticipated the current fiscal climate and initiated significant reductions in a measured way, while preserving our academic mission. Between 1993 and 1996, we reduced the number of administrative units from 13 to 6, eliminated 7 academic programs that were least marketable and cost effective, and downsized our employee base by 117 positions, or nearly 20 percent of the workforce, which reduced our base budget by approximately $5 million. Much of the monies saved from these activities went to balance our budget, while the rest were reinvested in strategic plan initiatives.

In 1998, we conducted a comprehensive review of our Strategic Plan and recommitted ourselves to four critical objectives:

  1. NTID will establish and market an enhanced national identity that accentuates its comparative advantages, including the diversity of its student body, the range of its program offerings, and its varied educational settings; the opportunities it provides for personal and social growth; its focus on technical and professional career education; and the good jobs attained by its graduates.

  2. NTID will recommit to establishing flexible "cutting edge" career education curricula and viable new technical programs. These programs should represent unique, "best-in-field" career opportunities that we believe will lead to success for NTID students in the global economic community.

  3. NTID, in collaboration with other RIT colleges and units, will provide leadership to ensure optimal access for deaf and hard-of-hearing students throughout the educational community. Tremendous progress has been made to make the entire university fully accessible to students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. We wish to continue with this progress so that NTID students can maximize their educational potential.

  4. NTID will continue to implement effective strategies for "college success" support systems in order to support and retain a diverse student body. While NTID presently enjoys one of the highest graduation rates among programs serving deaf and hard-of-hearing students, we are committed to doing even better by implementing more effective retention strategies. One other particular area of emphasis is the acquisition of English language skills. These skills are important for student success, both while at NTID/RIT, and later on in their future careers. We plan to accomplish this through an infusion of new strategies such as the establishment of learning communities of students with similar skill levels and an increased presence of staff and student leaders as role models in the dormitories.

Enrollment

The number of new students entering NTID during school year 1998-99 was 434, compared to 459 last year. The total included 371 deaf and hard-of-hearing freshmen and transfers, 21 first-year graduate students -- 10 of whom are deaf or hard-of-hearing -- in the Master of Science in Secondary Education (MSSE) program and 42 first-year hearing students in the Educational Interpreting program. Total enrollment, including interpreter training and graduate students, decreased slightly from 1,278 to 1,220, but is the second highest number of total students at NTID since 1988 and approximately equal to our planning number of 1,230. For the fall of 2000 -- fiscal year 2001, NTID is on schedule to admit approximately 425-450 new students which will maintain enrollment at approximately 1,200 to 1,250, which includes 90-100 interpreter training program students, and 30-35 MSSE students.

Student Accomplishments

Over the past 30 years, nearly 95 percent of NTID's 4,200 graduates have been successfully placed in jobs commensurate with their training, including 71 percent in business and industry. Research conducted by NTID with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration shows that our deaf graduates with bachelor degrees earn 81 percent of what their hearing peers earn. National statistics indicate that employed persons with disabilities earn only 70 percent of what their nondisabled peers earn. In addition, a deaf NTID/RIT graduate with a bachelor's degree, in his or her lifetime, will pay back over three times the cost of his or her education to the Federal Treasury in taxes alone.

Career Development

NTID has maintained a balanced array of services that are responsive to the needs of students who come from various educational settings -- public high schools, as well as center/residential schools and day programs for individuals who are deaf. NTID's success is due to its student-centered and outcome-oriented curricula, programs, and services that lead students to successful careers.

A student who has the abilities and desire can enroll through NTID in baccalaureate, masters, or doctoral degree programs with hearing peers in the other colleges of RIT. Last year, approximately 40 percent of our deaf students were cross-registered or fully matriculated in the other colleges of RIT. Regardless of field or level of study, NTID maintains responsibility for supporting all deaf students. Last year, deaf students benefited from approximately 85,000 hours of interpreting, 43,000 hours of note taking, and 13,000 hours of tutoring, as well as counseling, advising, and other professional services. For students interested in programs below the baccalaureate degree level, a number of degree options are available through the college of NTID. Students in associate of applied science programs at NTID complete their liberal arts requirements in the RIT College of Liberal Arts and their physical education requirements in RIT's Physical Education Department. In total, nearly 700 of NTID's 1,100+ deaf students have ongoing interactions with hearing peers through formal coursework and activities in the other colleges of RIT.

In addition to the various learning environments that provide for students' intellectual development, there are a variety of living options that provide opportunities for deaf students to live on dormitory floors comprised predominately of their deaf peers, comprised predominately of their hearing peers, or where there are equal numbers of deaf and hearing peers. These living arrangements provide students the opportunity to develop their interpersonal skills in an environment that expands their personal development. Thus, the learning and living environments at RIT and NTID foster well-rounded graduates who are well prepared to live and work in the mainstream of society.

Research

Studies performed through NTID's efforts benefit NTID's students as well as deaf adults throughout the country. The research program and agenda are guided and organized according to five general research foci: economic and occupational assimilation; academic and technical skills; communication skills; effective instruction; and institutional planning, evaluation, and change. We recently submitted a detailed annual report on NTID research to the Department of Education, and a copy is being provided to the Committee for its file.

Outreach

NTID's educational outreach efforts will continue in accordance with the Institute's mission and strategic plan. These efforts are designed to address the needs of alumni and other deaf adults, professionals working with deaf students, employers, vocational rehabilitation personnel, deaf secondary school students, and parents of deaf children. For example, 198 students participated in Explore Your Future last year, a career-sampling program for high school juniors who are deaf. In addition, a Summer Institute for deaf alumni and other deaf adults addresses topics such as computer skills, small business opportunities, and networking for career mobility and enhancement. Workshops and training sessions also were offered to 491 employer representatives and school personnel last year. Through these and a variety of other outreach efforts, we work to expand opportunities for people who are deaf.

Endowment Grant

The Education of the Deaf Act authorizes the use of appropriated funds as a one-for-one match with private funds raised by the Institute, and the Department's budget request provides NTID with the flexibility to use current-year program funds for its endowment grant program. The endowment matching fund was established as an incentive to help NTID raise private funds and to reduce NTID's dependence on Federal appropriations. In fiscal year 1999, NTID matched $390,984 of privately raised funds with a like amount of Federal funds. NTID also recently completed its first major capital campaign, which attracted $11.5 million to support its endowment, the acquisition of technology, and instructional, outreach and research projects. We have placed a priority on developing ongoing revenue streams to supplement NTID's operating budget. The current market value of NTID's total endowment stands at over $20.5 million.

Construction

NTID plans to commence construction on a major dormitory renovation project in fiscal year 2001, in keeping with RIT's plans to renovate all of the dormitories on its campus. The request includes $5.376 million for the second phase of a three-phase project costing a total of $13.568 million. The scope of the architectural improvements includes residential room improvements, public area improvements, and exterior renovation work. The renovations would satisfy code and life safety requirements, remedy problems which developed due to years of deferred maintenance, and improve facilities so the NTID dormitories will be on a par with other dormitories on campus.

The $13.568 million total cost figure includes $2.651 million received in fiscal year 2000 for phase one, $650,000 requested and received in 1999 for costs associated with developing detailed architectural, engineering, and interior design plans and detailed construction layout for the project. The figure also includes $700,000 for data cabling and $218,000 for a roof replacement that has already been completed and paid for with funds from prior year operations.

Summary

The fiscal year 2001 request will allow NTID to continue its mission of preparing deaf people to enter the workplace and society and compete with their hearing peers. In the Institute's brief history, our alumni have demonstrated that they can be fully independent and contributing members of society, and that they can experience an exceptional quality of life as a result of the postsecondary education we provide. Collaborative research between NTID and the Social Security Administration shows that, in comparison to students who do not complete a degree, NTID graduates are employed at a much higher rate over their lifetimes, earn substantially more, pay significantly more in taxes, and participate at a much lower rate in Federal transfer programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).

Mr. Chairman, my colleague and I will be pleased to respond to your questions.


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Last Updated -- [3/15/2000] (mjj)