Gallaudet - Charter Day Opening Ceremony
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
1:30 p.m. ET

Provost Stephen Weiner:

There are seats available to my left. there are plenty of seats. probably 10 available seats onto my left in the back. For those of you standing, if you would like to have a seat, there are chairs available. looks like we have 10 more available chairs. So, in total 20 chairs are available if anyone would like to have a seat. there is more seating available. so please make your way. Please make sure to make your way to the seating that is available. towards my left or your right.

Let's get everyone's attention.

Good day! this is an exciting day, isn't it? come on everyone! join me in excitement! i am so thrilled to have our beloved chapel hall, an iconic symbol to the world, as a beacon of hope for deaf people all over the world.

With history to tell about the lives of people that have seen and have experienced this. we would like to thank Dr. Jane Norman for her amazing leadership and devotion to the work and accomplishing what we have today. Thank you all so much.

And we would also like to thank the president and the First Lady, Vicki Hurwitz for their continued support of this museum. And it's such a beautiful day, isn't it? It is an ideal moment and a perfect start to our program.
with huge appreciation, i would like to welcome Dr. Jane Norman, the director of our museum.

Dr. Jane Norman:

Hello everyone. Hello and welcome. Clearly you can see our excitement. I'm sure it's very obvious to you how excited we are. This has been a seven‑year commitment on our part. And from the people you see here before you, there are a mix of young deaf professionals as well as others.

We all immediately understood the importance of our history, the importance of art to us, and the importance of documenting and sharing our story with people around the world.

It took courage from these individuals to lead the world so that the rest of us could follow and make this museum possible. This museum belongs to you. It's yours. And with it, comes the responsibility of maintaining, making sure that moneys come in to further support the efforts and continuing responsibility that you have to share our story. Sharing what it's like to live the lives of people who are Deaf. To help people understand our culture.

It is your responsibility to share this story with others. Helping people understand there are many ways to be Deaf, but it's not a one size fits all experience.

Everyone comes with different stories, with different experiences. Each individual brings their own story that can be shared for others to learn. And that's the importance of this museum.

It's one easy way to quickly expose people to educate them to what it's like to be Deaf and what it's like to be here at Gallaudet University.

I want to thank our president Dr. Hurwitz for his foresight in bringing this museum to a reality.

I also want to especially thank Vicki Hurwitz, First Lady of Gallaudet University. It was her steadfast commitment to this project, to this museum that gave me the courage to continue on through the number of days despite endless frustration, despite the work involved to persevere.

I also want to thank Steve Weiner for his strong commitment. He stood strong believing in our story and that our story must be told. So, thank you all.

I also want to thank folks who are here today as well as Meredith Peruzzi. Meredith is the curator of this museum.

I read about her for many months before I met her, and I heard about her zeal and enthusiasm and sure enough if I didn't experience that in person when I finally met her.

This is a perfect example. An example of how we can bring together the academics as well as our museum.
In fact, during our breakfast this morning we had the opportunity to hear from individuals who spoke about the importance of the university museum, and how well it is suited to be housed right here at our university.

And it is our pleasure and our joy and we cannot wait for you to lay eyes on what's inside.

I would like to introduce to you our president, Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz who will share a few words with us, and then we'll hear from our keynote speaker. Dr. Hurwitz?

[applause]

President T. Alan Hurwitz:

Greetings to everyone. This is truly a special day. As Provost Weiner mentioned, the day is beautiful and sunny, just like it was destined to be. Yesterday wasn't the day for it, but today is. The conditions are perfect.
This is such an exciting time. We're talking about the opening of our museum.

We can think about going backwards 150 years when the President Abraham Lincoln, he's right over there.
He's right over there in the audience. You can see him there with his high hat.

Decided to sign the Charter to enact our institution. This morning I had an interview with the Washington Post and they asked us what is the significance of this and why is it so important.

We also have to remember that this act was signed during the days of slavery. President Abraham Lincoln truly believed that everyone had to have equal rights to be able to compete in life and live in the same types of standards.

That charter was also signed for the emancipation proclamation to emancipate slaves at that time.
and another bill was put before him for the institution of the deaf and hard of hearing students.

And without qualms he signed that document.

I would want to explain another angle as to why he quickly signed it. Remember the school for the deaf in Illinois? They had a regional academic bowl competition. And it was in his old school building, and he went there to look over the history of it. And actually i was the one who attended the regional academic bowl, and I saw the actual signing of that charter in 1839 and i saw there the signature of Abraham Lincoln.

He was actually a member of the senate and the legislature in Illinois who signed for that school to be established and then 25 years later, he signed a charter that established Gallaudet university and put that into legislation and into law.

These are the types of stories that we need to tell. These are the types of stories that we need to preserve and that is the purpose of our museum.

We would like to thank Dr. Jane Norman in her outstanding vision in seeing the need for this museum in order to document our history. It is an exciting time.

And it is now my pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker. She has a passion for issues that intersect between policy and the public and private policy. She works in the investment project in NoMa-BID, north of Massachusetts avenue, we know as "NoMa." She worked toward the lobbying of the improvement of that, and also improving the district. She worked for many years for economic development and revitalization of the northeast corridor.

I would like to add that as we look out into the city, there are many successes as far as revitalization that's happened that she's been a part of as well. She's a true friend of Gallaudet. She has reached out to the community and we also need to do our part as we are going do in revitalizing 6th street. Therefore, it is my pleasure to give a warm welcome to Robin E. Jasper.

[applause]

Robin Jasper:

Good afternoon Gallaudet and happy 150th. What a great day. I am so honored to be here, representing the Noma neighborhood at the 150th anniversary at one of our most important institutions, Gallaudet university.

The leadership at Gallaudet are a terrific asset to this neighborhood and to Washington, D.C.

Over the last couple of years, I have come to know an equally appreciate the vision, the engagement, the activism that is part of the DNA of the Gallaudet community. I want to start with a little story about my first work with Gallaudet students and leaders.

I first came to work at the Noma business improvement district in October 2011. Actually, I had not yet started work, but the chairman of the board called me up and said the Noma-BID needed me to get involved with a little problem they were having.

He said there were problems with the proposed renaming of the New York-Florida Avenue Metro Station. The Noma staff recommended changing the name to Noma-Gallaudet.

I was a bit concerned that the efforts might fail. Then I was contacted by Fred Weiner and Sam Swiller of Gallaudet. And I realized there was a strong, thoughtful ally already deeply engaged on this issue.

The Gallaudet leadership wrote letters and they appeared and testified at the WMATA board hearing.
But most importantly, they were joined at that hearing by a group of enthusiastic students who also testified. And many Gallaudet students wrote letters and sent e‑mails - lots and lots of e‑mails.

The engagement and activism of Gallaudet students was critical to the successful renaming of the Noma-Gallaudet university station. Gallaudet leadership and students were also advocates for Noma parks.
And over the last few years, your involvement has made a huge difference for the neighborhood.

I share that story, because since I began working in Noma that future visions and activism is a hallmark of the Gallaudet community and it is a tremendous asset to the neighborhood.

So, when I was invited by President Hurwitz to talk about the relationship of Gallaudet University and the Noma neighborhood at the opening of the Gallaudet University Museum, I was delighted to be able to say a few words.

This neighborhood more often until recently known as a number of smaller separate areas. Trinidad, Gallaudet University, The Market, near northeast, Noma has seen huge changes over the last several years. Included among these changes are the metro station renaming to Gallaudet University. The opening of union market - the arrival of thousands of new residents.

The release of the new Gallaudet campus plan 2022 that will open the university to the community and the release of the Union Station master plan that will bring 3 million square feet to the area behind union station.

This neighborhood has become a magnet for young people moving to D.C., for young families, for smart, tech savvy businesses like Neighborworks Mathmatica and NPR and small startups and food producers. I believe the changes coming in the near future will be even greater than the ones we have seen in the last five years.

One of the challenges in this fast changing neighborhood is Noma consistently exceeds our capacity to imagine what the neighborhood will really be like in five years, ten years.

In the middle of all this change stands Gallaudet on this magnificent campus. It is the preeminent institution for the deaf in this area and maybe in the world. Surely, Gallaudet is the jewel of the neighborhood.

Today, on the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the charter that established what would become Gallaudet University, we celebrate the opening of the Gallaudet University Museum and its exhibition Gallaudet at 150 and Beyond.

Dr. Jane Norman and her team have looked both to the past and to the future as they developed this exhibit.
They have expressed by words and design a compelling vision for the museum's role in educating people about the history of education of the deaf and hard of hearing.

The history of Gallaudet University and the role this museum will take in the future as a center for bringing neighborhoods together on the Gallaudet campus.

They have restored chapel hall to the glorious state you will see in a few moments - bright and clean with gleaming wood floors.

They have presented exhibits about the past and present. Exhibits that tell an important story and that show the successes and challenges that have faced the university and its students.

It is a story that shows that change is constant - that conflict is sometimes necessary and that the future holds incredible promise.

The vision, commitment and activism of Gallaudet leaders from even before Edward Minor Gallaudet to the Gallaudet students of today is also constant.

From the students who fought for a deaf president in the late 1980s, to the students who are advocating for the incorporation of deaf space design standards, for the renaming of the Noma-Gallaudet Metro Station, and for I'm sure many other causes.

Activism in service a cause is a hallmark of Gallaudet with the deep shared commitment of Gallaudet students and leaders to education, opportunity and equal rights for the deaf and hard of hearing, it is not surprising that many students and alumni think of Gallaudet as a home.

A place for people to gather. A place to come back to. I saw very clearly that sense of homecoming when I had the opportunity to attend the Gallaudet commencement last year.

While with the opening of this lovely Gallaudet University Museum, you are inviting many of us into your home to learn your stories, understand more of your unique experience and perspective.

Visitors become members of the Gallaudet family, neighbors and visitors will be invited to spend time here at the museum.

There will be classes in American Sign Language for the community. The welcoming of neighbors and others to the museum is like the gesture that the campus plan 2022 is making to open the campus to the community.

Plans along 6th street on the western edge of Gallaudet as retail and new apartments and to open up a new gateway all enforce a future of greater inclusion between the students and leaders of Gallaudet and the overall Noma neighborhood. This bodes a brighter future for us all.

Gallaudet University students, graduates and leaders have played such an important role in the history of this area. On behalf of the Noma-BID, I want to congratulate you on this important anniversary.
I want to applaud you on your leadership. I want to celebrate with you.

[Tower Clock bell ringing]

The opening of the fabulous Gallaudet University Museum. And I want to thank you for inviting the neighborhood to share in the legacy of your future.

[applause]

Thank you.

Dr. Jane Norman:

Thank you so much for sharing those words. Though this is only phase one of our museum, we have planned additional phases that will come from time to time. As one phase is completed, the next one will begin.

We're near completion on something else that's called a rotating exhibit. You will see a couple of them when you go into the museum - we only have two available. But a couple of days ago, we received a check that will allow us to add two more rotating exhibitions - that will complete phase one.

And the second phase will include a children's program. The program will bring in the neighborhood children, as we have strong ties with our alumni and our donors who will make these changes possible.

We want to thank everyone who has provided funds to make this possible. Jack and Rosalyn Gannon.
their endowment fund has been able to provide funds for our museum. In addition, I want to thank Dr. Gerald "Bummy" Burnstein. The moment he heard about this museum, he reached into his pocket and wrote a check for this museum.

That money that he gave inspired us to begin our plan and our work right away. So, thank you Bummy.
Thank you for your determination and thank you for telling us that we had what we needed to move forward. Thank you for your confidence in us.

[applause]

We also want to thank all of our alumni. What you see happening inside this museum is a result of the funds that you have provided. We have a book that you will be able to look through that really shows the number of people who have contributed charitable donations to this museum. And this is just the beginning - there's much more to come.

It is my pleasure now to introduce a young gentleman. He's an 8th grader from Kendall school and he would like to share some comments with you as to why he believes this museum is so very important.

let me introduce you to Zengchang Chen. And again, he'll be speaking about the importance of Deaf History and this museum.

Zenchang Chen:

Hello Gallaudet community. My name is Zenchang Chen, I am an 8th grade student at Kendall, just across the way. I have been here at Kendall since the 4th grade. It's become a big part of my life today and I see Gallaudet as part of my future.

I have visited many, many museums here in D.C. with my teachers and class mates - still my favorites are the Smithsonian museums. I've gone there many times, but they do not show my history or my future. My new favorite museum is here where it shows the Gallaudet history and the Deaf World. I look forward to visiting here with my classmates and learning something new every time!

[applause]

Thank you so much.

Dr. Jane Norman:

How about that? Wasn't he amazing? Well, we're nearing time for our grand opening - the culmination of 7 years of work.

It's taken us at least a year or more to plan this event - we crossed off every day on the calendar as the days neared. There was a scurry of activity before this opening. A lot of running around and not being able to get a bite to eat.

And one day I was eating some Chinese food and I pulled open the fortune cookie to read my fortune inside. I'm not sure how it happened but it said "your dreams will become a reality." (Laughter)

So, with Meredith Peruzzi, the museum curator, this dream was made possible and it's my pleasure to introduce her to you.

Meredith?

Meredith Peruzzi:

Greetings everyone. I know you've been sitting for a while and you're excited to get into the museum. Just a moment more. I see many people saying "yes" - but hold on a second.

I just want to tell you a very brief account about what you will expect when you get inside.

Maybe you remember Chapel Hall in the past was a dark and somber room and there wasn't much happening in that hall. However, this building has new life now. You will be able to see the lighting that is diffused throughout the space and all of the different exhibits that tell your story.

The story that began with one simple idea. Looking towards the past and looking forward as well, which means that you will see our history in addition to seeing our future. When you walk in through those doors and enter the museum, when you start towards the left and go around, you will be able to see our staff leadership.

You will also be able to see the plethora of exhibits that we worked on - but our most cherished and valid today are really the faces of each one of you being in this space and enjoying the exhibits.

That is the whole purpose of all of the work that we have done. It is an embodiment of it, it is not the work of myself or just Dr. Norman, it is the work of each and every one of us who is here present today. There are so many that it is impossible to truly enumerate.

And we still have not been able to represent everyone. There are many people who helped to produce this.
Advisors, contractors, consultants who have provided their support until today.

Even helping to sit up the chairs that you're sitting on. I want to say thank you to everyone and express our gratitude for their engagement and support of the establishment of our museum.

I'm so proud to show this to you and I'm also proud that this means that we are setting a standard and this is something that is going to be a permanent part of our university.

As Dr. Norman mentioned, we will have rotating exhibits. so when you visit, you'll have the opportunity to be able to see new information with new programs and groups as well. This is just the beginning, everyone.

Wait until you see what we have in store for you.

Are you ready?
Are you all ready?

[cheers and applause]

If we can go ahead and cut the ribbon if everyone is ready?

Come on. Get into it everyone! We're filming here!
150 year anniversary!
Come on guys.
Celebrate again.
say 150th!

Dr. Jane Norman:

If we could have the media move toward the side please so everyone can see the ribbon cutting.

President Hurwitz:

Is everyone ready? It's about to happen!

Group:

3...2...1

(ribbon cuts)

[cheers and applause]

Dr. Jane Norman:

And now everyone, it is my honor to open our museum to all of you. We are opening our doors and ask that you come and visit. Please come and enjoy.

[the presentation ended at 2:13 p.m. et]
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This is being provided in a rough-draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) and captioning are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

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