February 18, 1988
Philip Brann, Chairman
Presidential Search Committee
7th and Florida Avenue, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
Dear Mr. Brann:
It is my understanding that Gallaudet University is in the process of choosing a new President. I also understand that, after an arduous recruitment and screening process, you have identified six finalists who are highly qualified for the position, three of whom are deaf.
I do not wish to intrude in your process of choosing the best candidate. You are selecting an individual who will be deciding on the direction of Gallaudet University for several years to come, and you certainly want the person who is most qualified to do that. But I have listened to the hearts of the deaf community, and I hear the same message that you do. There is strong desire that the University hire a President who is highly qualified but who is also deaf.
Gallaudet University is held in very high esteem by the deaf community. It has and continues to provide a future for thousands of people who are now leading productive lives and contributing to society with more than their taxes. It is more than a school for them, it is a home. They care about the University and its future in the same way you cared about theirs. They see the University as the leader and expect it to show the way as it always has.
Ten years ago you and I were concerned about employment for graduates of the University. Gallaudet was in the forefront in changing attitudes and coordinating employment opportunities. But increased awareness among the general public has helped that situation tremendously. I do not mean to suggest that all discrimination against deaf persons has been erased, only that the condition today is different. Deaf individuals own and operate their own businesses, and we have a deaf actress who has won national acclaim for her work.
Deaf individuals are moving into positions of public notice and public responsibility and becoming role models for deaf students who can see and admire them and dream. Isn't it time for the University to once again lead the way instead of following it and place a deaf individual in a position of public responsibility.
United States Senate