PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, a bridge over troubled waters. A renowned educator comes out of retirement to restore calm at Gallaudet University. Dr. Bob Davila joins us live next in the NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: Not all the big changes in Washington this week are in government: a new interim president took over at Gallaudet University after a year of campus protests.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Gallaudet is the only university specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. But it went 124 years without a deaf president. That finally changed in 1988, but not without a fight.
When the Gallaudet board of trustees selected yet another hearing president, that year, students, faculty and alumni revolted and formed a movement called deaf president now. It worked. And Gallaudet soon had its first deaf president, I. King Jordan.
I. KING JORDAN, GALLAUDET PRESIDENT: I am thrilled to accept the invitation on the board of trustees to become the president of Gallaudet University.
PHILLIPS: That 1988 victory has never been forgotten on the Gallaudet campus. And it took on new significance last spring when the time came to choose a successor to Jordan.
The trustees selected Gallaudet’s provost, Jane Fernandes. She was not a popular selection. The reason why is a matter of dispute. Fernandes is deaf, but she had a different background from many members of the Gallaudet community.
JANE FERNANDES, GALLAUDET PRESIDENT-DESIGNATE: I had attended a public school, not a school for the deaf. I had gone to a college other than one that was for deaf people. And I didn’t learn to sign and really met deaf people who did sign until I was 22 years of age. So my emergence into American sign language and culture came later in my life.
PHILLIPS: Some Fernandes supporters claim she simply wasn’t deaf enough for her campus critics. Her critics deny that. They argued that Fernandes was an autocratic provost, insufficiently supportive of students or faculty. Continue reading “CNN Interviews Dr. Davila [text transcript]”