Gallaudet closes successful $31 million capital campaign

SLCC BuildingGenerous donors helped Gallaudet meet the $31 million goal for the James Lee Sorenson Language and Communication Center (SLCC) and also to endow the I. King Jordan Chair in Leadership, the priorities for The Campaign for Gallaudet's Future.

"The Campaign's success at such an important time in the University's history strongly reflects the tremendous support and belief many people have for Gallaudet University and our students" President Davila said today. The Campaign for Gallaudet's Future kicked off in January 2004 to secure funding for the SLCC. When I. King Jordan, Gallaudet's eighth president, announced his retirement in 2006, the Board of Trustees expanded the campaign to include the establishment of the I. King Jordan Chair in Leadership.

Generous gifts from Sorenson Communications and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation resulted in naming the Language and Communication Center after nationally recognized business leader and entrepreneur James Lee Sorenson, chairman of Sorenson Development. Sorenson is noted for his help in developing several industry categories in today's business world, including digital compression software, mass-market videophones, and video relay service for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

The SLCC, which was completed in the fall of 2008, is the world's first model of a new concept, the visu-centric environment. The visu-centric concept goes beyond merely adapting a structure to meet the specific needs of deaf people to one that completely embodies "the deaf way of being," aesthetically as well as practically. For the first time in the University's history, deaf people, including a deaf architect, were charged with envisioning a space that clearly, unmistakably says: This is a place designed by and for deaf people. The exterior and interior designs incorporate open spaces, natural lighting, and room layouts that are conducive to visual communication.

The center houses the Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2), an initiative of a multi-million dollar grant Gallaudet received from the National Science Foundation (NSF). VL2, one of six NSF Science of Learning Centers, brings together deaf and hearing researchers and educators from a variety of disciplines to explore how deaf people acquire visual language and learn to read.

The Jordan Chair honors Dr. Jordan's 19 years of service as president of Gallaudet. The chair recognizes his role as the University's first deaf president, and his many notable accomplishments in creating social and educational change for deaf people around the world. The Jordan Chair provides opportunities for seasoned scholars to create and share new knowledge in strategic areas vital to the lives of deaf people including international and domestic advocacy, organizational development, the study of literacy, and the study and application of psychology.

"These initiatives cement Gallaudet's place as the world leader in research and knowledge on deaf people and their language." said Dr. Davila. He added, "I want to take a moment to express special thanks to James Lee Sorenson and his family for making this center a reality."

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