My Photo
Location: United States

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Davila steers Gallaudet U. onto steady course

The memo below issued by Gallaudet President Robert Davila today represents extremely good news which shows that Gallaudet will soon be out of the troubled "reaffirmation of accreditation waters"--or actually already is out of those troubled waters and is now navigating a sure and steady course.

One sentence was clarified today by a member of the Davila administration who explained that the accreditors, in their recent exit interview, mentioned that Gallaudet, as an institution, needed to establish more and better contacts with other higher educational professional organizations. That's what Dr. Davila is referring to when he mentioned this, saying that they were concerned about "Gallaudet’s long history of isolation from the American higher education community." The statement is unrelated and has nothing to do with the utterly false claims of cultural bigots who attempt to disparage the cultural status of Gallaudetians and Deaf Americans.

The memo can be seen as being a wonderful first birthday present for FSSA, the Faculty, Staff, Student, Alumni Coalition, which was created on May 2, 2006 and whose members did so much to bring about the conditions which are allowing all these wonderful changes and improvements to be made.

What was once a sinking rowboat in 1856 that was rescued by Amos Kendall, and then in an amazingly short span of 1857 to 1864 was transformed by Edward and Sophia Gallaudet into a bona fide sailing vessel of higher education, will soon be sailing by for review again with all hands on deck, glistening under the bright yellow sun of enlightenment, engines running at full power, with civilians on shore marveling at the sight of the mighty ship passing before them.....


Office of the President

WASHINGTON, DC 20002-3695

May 2, 2007

Dear Alumni:

A visiting team from the Middle State Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) came to Gallaudet yesterday and today to discuss our supplemental information report submitted to the commission on April 3. The report responded to concerns of the MSCHE regarding the University’s re-accreditation, including: effectiveness of shared governance, a climate that fosters respect among all people, mission review, implementation of a comprehensive institutional strategic plan, development of a comprehensive enrollment management plan, and academic rigor.

While on campus, the team met with me, representatives of the Board of Trustees, the University Faculty Senate, the President’s Management Team, Academic Affairs Unit Administrators, the Committee on Bilingualism, and the six working teams of my President’s Agenda for a Better Gallaudet University. The team also held open meetings for students, faculty, and staff to share input and ask questions. I sincerely thank everyone who devoted their time and effort to this visit by the MSCHE. I was especially impressed with the dialogue between our students and the members of the team. Your commitment during this challenging time was recognized by the team during its exit report to the community. During the exit report, the MSCHE team commended us for the preparation of the supplemental information report and progress we have made toward addressing the concerns raised by MSCHE since its last visit in January. It was noted that from this report and from their meetings with various campus constituencies that Gallaudet is moving in the right direction, and that many people spoke highly of an improving climate with much better communication. The team also mentioned that a great deal of healing has taken place, and commented that this could not have happened without much hard work.

However, the team expressed its concern over what it sees as Gallaudet’s long history of isolation from the American higher education community. It was also disappointed in what it called a lack of documented evidence of accountability—particularly in a time when the federal government has increasingly high expectations for institutions of higher learning. The team added that Gallaudet has not produced compelling evidence that the University is in full compliance with commission standards, but at the same time, it said that this is understandable, recognizing that the past six months have been a tumultuous time for the University.

The team mentioned something that struck me in a profound way. It said that Gallaudet is on a long and difficult journey, and it is this comment that I want to emphasize to you. We can take advantage of this “journey” by working together to make Gallaudet emerge stronger and more vibrant than ever. The strength of Gallaudet University is based on a foundation that is almost 150 years old, solidified by the unity of the deaf community. It is a treasure, a center of learning, research, culture, and empowerment that, unfortunately, many deaf people around the world can only dream of attending. Now, as always, Gallaudet is defined by the strength and determination of its people. This is a fact that the MSCHE team recognizes. Pointing to the considerable talents of the Gallaudet community, the team said it feels that the University is capable of demonstrating full compliance with the Middle States’ standards. As an alumnus who used a Gallaudet education to attain opportunities, I emphatically agree. My expectations for my alma mater are very high, and I’m sure yours are, as well.

We are now facing a timeline that is very tight and which will require engagement from all areas of the campus. The MSCHE team is proposing a two-year timeline beginning on the calendar date that non-compliance was determined. In our case, the two-year timeline started in November 2006, following the campus closing during the protest. We must sustain the high degree of volunteerism and involvement that now characterizes campus life for faculty, staff, teachers, and students. I urge everyone to join me on this journey and help Gallaudet meet this challenge.

Bob Davila

CLICK HERE to read previous posts of the Gallaudet Protest Legal Issues blog.


Post a Comment

<< Home