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Sybil Ray Ishman, PhD

Retired Associate Professor of English

Department of Liberal Studies

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester, New York


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ph.D. Applied Linguistics

M.A. American Literature

Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

B.A. English



Prior to moving to Rochester, NY, in 1985, I was a member for seven years of the English Faculty at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. When I was first hired, I was the only female African-American member of NCSU’s English Department.


For 25 years I was a member of the English faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  For five years I served as Chairman of the Department. 

 I taught composition and literature to all levels of students, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute of my time with the extremely diverse population of students that were required to take my courses in order to graduate.

The students might not have felt the same way, as one can imagine, because my university attracts students who seek degrees in engineering, computer science, video game design, architecture, and numerous other science and math-related fields.  I earned the reputation of being tough, but fair, but my students quickly learned that if they were willing to put in the time, so was I, and I could often be found in my office late into the early evening. 


One of the nine colleges of which RIT is comprised is The National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the only technical university for Deaf students in the U.S.  (Gallaudet University in D.C. is the Liberal Arts College for the Deaf).  Because of my love of languages, I opted to become fluent in American Sign Language so that I could have both Deaf and hearing students in my classes.  Interpreters are not permitted in language classes because one must know the grammar of the language being taught.  Further, the job of interpreters is to accurately convey information, not explain grammar, so language professors must sign for themselves when teaching Deaf students.


During my work years in Rochester, I served on the following Boards:


The Harley School Board of Trustees

The Rochester Contemporary Arts Council

The Livingston County Wadsworth Library

The Wilson Commencement Center for Women

The Livingston Community Board of Literacy


I am now really enjoying more time with family and friends.  My hobbies are power walking, skiing (If you live in cold country, you have to do something to make the winters pass), yoga, reading and traveling.  I am currently drafting a children’s book and learning to play golf or should I say trying to make contact with the ball!!!!! 

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