President Hurwitz shares his dream for Gallaudet in State of the University Address
President Hurwitz drew inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his February 7 State of the University Address, which celebrated Gallaudet's past and present and envisioned its future. Dr. Hurwitz said he chose "A Dream for Gallaudet" as the title for his presentation after a moving January 19 tribute to the late civil rights leader hosted by the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the Black Deaf Student Union, and the Student Body Government.
While King dreamed of a peaceful and just world, a student who chooses a Gallaudet education dreams of a bright future and the opportunity for success. "An entering student leaves one world and reenters a far different world at graduation," said Hurwitz. He commended a liberal arts education for preparing students for life after college by not only providing them the skills they need for an ever-changing workforce, but by emphasizing analytical and critical thinking. "Fortunately, moving into the future builds on deep emotional traditions at Gallaudet," he said. "Fortunately, our university is alive with the ability to adapt and change to prepare students for that new world."
The foundation of Gallaudet's dreams, said Hurwitz, is built on three cherished traits--knowledge, community, and communication. He elaborated by saying that Gallaudet enjoys a long-standing reputation for not only educating deaf and hard of hearing people, but for enlightening the world on their abilities. Gallaudet has strong community bonds that are unique to any university, people, or place; and Gallaudet's bilingual communication fosters a dynamic exchange of diverse opinions and ideas.
The University's new logo drew praise from the president. "I love the new logo, it symbolizes so much about Gallaudet," he said. Creating the new design was truly a community effort, with more than 2,000 individuals expressing their opinions in the design and selection processes. "We can soar together into the future with a logo representative of the University," said Hurwitz.
Hurwitz also gave highlights from the recently published FY 2011 Annual Report of Achievements to the United States Department of Education that relate to the goals of the Gallaudet Strategic Plan--enrollment, retention/graduation, resources, programs, and research. The report shows that while enrollment at the University increased slightly this fall compared to 2010, and even more at the Clerc Center, much more needs to be done in this area. Hurwitz said the campus community must work diligently to ensure that Gallaudet is "top of mind" for college-bound students and for enrolled students so that they return to Kendall Green year after year until they graduate. The graduation rate for undergraduate students was, in fact, significantly higher in 2011 than the year before, but dropped slightly for graduate students. What is particularly encouraging, he added, is that the graduation percentage for both groups exceeded the target numbers set by the Department of Education. Hurwitz took the opportunity to recognize "the amazing work of our graduates. Almost 70 percent are in service careers--what a proud record," he said.
In the area of resources, Hurwitz cited the many construction projects in progress that are improving the campus, and he spoke of the 10-year master plan that is being developed to meet the needs of tomorrow's Gallaudet students. "What a dramatic undertaking as we envision the transformation of the University in the coming decade or two," he said. A new process has been implemented for future construction that will solicit input from all segments of the campus before projects are selected, Hurwitz added.
The president talked about the potential of the University's pre-programs that are being planned in the fields of law, medicine, business, and architecture as shining examples of meeting the program development component of the Strategic Plan. The idea for these programs was first announced in the fall, and since then an academic team has met weekly to transform them into a reality. Deaf and hard of hearing people are currently succeeding in these fields, Hurwitz acknowledged, but their numbers are small. By taking the lead in developing these pre-programs, "we can contribute to the opportunities of young future students," he said, adding that "we will continue with the pride we feel in our other undergraduate and graduate programs."
Research, the fifth goal of the Strategic Plan, is another vital area that Gallaudet will continue to cultivate. Hurwitz said the Annual Report indicates that the dollar amount of research grant awards received last year was the highest in the last 10 years, and the dollar amount of grant proposals has grown significantly, as well.
Hurwitz closed his address to the campus community by repeating King's most famous quote, "I have a dream." The words, he said, "closely parallel our issues ... excite us to consider our future ... encourage us to dream of that future."