Hello! The year 2015 has turned
out to be an historic one for Gallaudet University. For this campus, the selection
of our 11th and first deaf
woman president, Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano,
has made 2015 momentous. We welcome
President-select Cordano to the campus
again this week. She’s on campus
for eight days to meet with various stakeholders in order to further the
relationship-building process before she starts on January 1. For the nation,
2015 has also brought an unprecedented
level of national attention to issues of race, including
institutional racism, related dimensions
of systemic discrimination, including those based on
skin color, geographic origin, immigration status,
and religious affiliation. Through national and local
media, we have learned that this attention has
prompted colleges and universities
across the country, including Gallaudet,
to reexamine equity, diversity,
concerns of inclusion with greater care
and higher expectations. In the spring of 2015,
Gallaudet University had several dialogues
on “Black Lives Matter.” This initiated many
conversations and efforts across campus to address
the issues of race and systemic discrimination. The Board of Trustees
has noted these efforts and expressed concern
for the campus climate. And as a result of this,
we decided to initiate the dialogue
with President Hurwitz and President-select Cordano. Together, we agreed
that Gallaudet does need to continue and better
address issues of racism and systemic discrimination
here at Gallaudet. The Board of Trustees has
decided that this topic is going to be a priority at the February
Board of Trustees meeting. Gallaudet’s future and
the future of the United States depends on the dismantling and interruption of systems
of oppression that have precluded access
for all people. Because of our
nation’s racist past, we must interrupt and dismantle the continuing impacts
of discrimination. This remains our country’s
greatest challenge. Because racism is an issue
that affects all of us, it requires commitment from
each and every one of us, both on campus and beyond. Gallaudet’s path to building
an affirming campus climate and a more just academic
and workplace community requires us to acknowledge
how our identities, our multiple identities –
be it race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, secular
and religious beliefs, and many others –
how they intersect. We are not
one or the other, but we are rather
one of many identities. With this acknowledgement,
we can deepen our collective
engagement in dialogue and informed action to effect
the changes necessary. And these actions, collectively,
will help us co-create a better future
for Gallaudet University. The Board of Trustees
wants to thank you for your continued commitment
to this great university, the only one of its kind
in the world. We also thank President
Hurwitz for his dedication to Gallaudet
and to ensuring that the transition
from his stewardship to that of President-select
Cordano is a smooth one. Whether or not you
celebrate holidays over the upcoming winter break, may this time
for you be one of rejuvenation. After the break, let us
all return to campus, ready to reconnect
and discover anew how we as Gallaudet
can continue to influence the ongoing positive
development of our campus and the world,
as a space that values and nourishes
each individual as a whole. On behalf of the Board
of Trustees, thank you again for your dedication to, and love of,
Gallaudet University.