Gallaudet University Restructuring Harms Faculty and Staff
Gallaudet University is dubbed the “The world's only university designed to be barrier-free for deaf and hard of hearing students. For more than 150 years, Gallaudet University has led advances in education of deaf and hard of hearing” (Gallaudet University) people. Many people that graduate from Gallaudet go on to then work and teach at Gallaudet University, making it one of the central hubs for community leaders.
One of the most important events in community history happened at Gallaudet University, fighting for a Deaf President (DPN). In result of this protest, I. King Jordan made history in 1988 when he became the first deaf president of Gallaudet University. After serving the Gallaudet community for 18 years, on December 31, 2006, he stepped down as president after a controversial move that made the community lose respect for him. It has been speculated that Jordan was involved in the ordering the bulldozer that invaded “Tent City” which caused harm to several students. Others think that it was done independently.
After I. King Jordan left the university (and possibly during his tenure), the community has long discussed fear tactics within and gag orders that the university has placed upon their staff members, preventing them from speaking with the press. A chain of events that has recently been brought to the community’s attention involves the removal of multiple individuals that are closing to retirement.
What Gallaudet tends to do is that they will “terminate” a position, henceforth a severance of the working relationship with the employee that had the position occurs. “I was told that [T]he week before at a open budget meeting that the management had stated they would permit staff to go 9, 10 or 11 month [prior to the end of their contract] as a way to help with budget issues. I never even had the chance.” (Anonymous) Gallaudet University also holds these positions for a year and then reposts them at a much lower salary saving the university money. It has also been pointed out that while Gallaudet faculty had not seen annual cost of living adjustment for a long time, administrators still see a handsome salary of six figures.
There have been many employees that have been let go due to reorganization. Many of these individuals are hearing and female and have been at Gallaudet University for 30+ years. The university staff have also been told that they need to find money in their budget. “According to the president, the university needs to find 4 million dollars, I find this mind boggling. How did they get so far behind from a fiscal standpoint. I know they hire consultants for large sums of money and then do not bother to use their suggestions.” (Anonymous)
Gallaudet University students started a petition in February.
First-year Masters of Public Administration students gathered together to create a petition on Change.org to fight the university’s decision to let Mark Meyers go. “We, students, have found out that Dr. Myers will be on a termination leave. We do not agree with this decision that was made by the administration." (Change.org) In the same petition it is stated that the students who created this petition are concerned about facing audism (definition) if the university replaces Myers. “Without Dr. Myers, they will replace him with someone that [is] either Deaf or hearing, as long they have a Ph.D. in Public Administration. We do not want to deal with someone who uses an interpreter and have to rely on audism in our own university.” (Change.org)
Gallaudet University has had their accreditation threatened to be taken away in the past as reported by the Washington Times during the “Unity for Gallaudet” protest in 2006, and if there were to be another protest, their accreditation can be taken away permanently and the school will be shut down.
Ever since I King Jordan left, there have been three presidents in 13 years. Robert R Davila (2007-2009), Alan Hurwitz (2010-2015), and now Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano (2016-present).
Gallaudet University Media team has been contacted for future comments.
Editor Note: individuals in this article have asked to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation through severance/retirement packages being removed.