The time has come for me to step up and be counted among the multitudes imploring the Board to change its course. I have given 38 years of my life to Gallaudet University, 5 as a student (BA and MA) and 33 as a loyal employee. Gallaudet is my life and family, as is true for multitudes of others. Please count me not as a dejected candidate for the position but as one who loves and treasures Gallaudet beyond the self.
The Board surely recognizes and acknowledges the steady deterioration of Gallaudet University in the eyes of the diverse publics that Gallaudet serves and the world beyond its campus. Both the Board and Dr. Jordan have stated that the President does not only run a university in the conventional sense but also is recognized as having national and international impact. Gallaudet extends beyond the borders that define its campus.
From Dr. Jordan’s letter of resignation: “Because of the very public way in which I became president, I was met immediately with the need to serve not only as CEO of a major university, but as a national and international spokesperson for people who are deaf and disabled as well as a role model for people who are deaf.” This continues to ring true.
From the Gallaudet University announcement of the opening of the President position: “Gallaudet University is the world’s only comprehensive, multipurpose institution of higher education for deaf and hard of hearing individuals… a worldwide audience through a network of regional centers, international agreements, public service and advocacy efforts. The job posting delineates qualifications for the President: “Bring deep roots in deaf culture with knowledge, appreciation and understanding of deaf/hard of hearing/hearing communities and serve as a role model for deaf and hard of hearing individuals worldwide.”
Right now the Board is presented with the opportunity to review all the facts, some of which might not have been known to the Board last May when it made the decision regarding the 9th President of Gallaudet.
Right now the Board is presented with the opportunity to change its course in the light of new, significant information and brutal unyielding realities.
Dr. Laurel Glass stated: “Change is not a sign of weakness; rather it signifies wisdom and courage.” The esteemed late Dr. Glass, professor emeritus of anatomy and psychiatry at the University of California Medical School, San Francisco, served on the Gallaudet Board for many years. More notably, she was the only hearing Board member to side with the three deaf Board members during the 1988 Deaf President Now protest. During my 7 years tenure as the Chief Academic Officer of the University, I worked with her as the chair of the Board Academic Affairs Committee. I came to respect and value Dr. Glass for her insights and wisdom, e.g. “It takes a big person to admit a mistake. By doing this and righting the situation, you become even bigger.” I have taken her advice to heart, and I hope you will too.
DPN does not mean Deaf President Now. It has always meant Deaf People Now. DPN represents the epitome of an empowered, engaged community of very diverse deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people. DPN has opened numerous doors of opportunities for the national and global deaf community. By changing the course now, you can enable new leadership to to galvanize the community and to ensure that the legacy of DPN continues to shine positively for all of us.
Right now, to determine what/who is right and what/who is wrong is beside the point. Right now is the time to stem the rapidly imploding situation and to chart a new direction. Right now is the time to stop the negative public relations, emotional and financial hemorrhage caused by the Gallaudet Board and administration’s refusal to hear. Right now is the time to right the Gallaudet ship with a different captain, to enable it to sail forth proudly into a bright future, by reopening the search process for the 9th President. This ship is not about weathering perfect storms and catching Moby Dick, but about doing what’s best for the constituencies served by the Gallaudet ship, present and future, individually and collectively.
The power and now the opportunity lies in your hands. May you also have the wisdom and the courage to save the ship now so that healing can occur for us all.
Dr. Roz Rosen, 62 and 64