The Gallaudet University Board of Trustees announced on October 9, 2015 it has selected Roberta "Bobbi" Cordano, J.D., to become the next president of Gallaudet University, effective January 1, 2016.
In making the announcement, Gallaudet Board of Trustees Chair Heather Harker said, "We are delighted to have selected Ms. Cordano to become the 11th President of Gallaudet. As our students are connecting with our vibrant community, discovering their academic and career aspirations, and influencing conversations and their futures, Ms. Cordano will be the kind of president to lead transformational change at the university. She's the right person at the right time for Gallaudet."
Cordano, who is deaf, currently serves as the vice president of programs for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In this role, she oversees direct community-based programs for nearly 9,500 people in the areas of early childhood, community mental health, family supportive housing, aging and caregiver services, school reform, and food access. She is widely credited for managing and sustaining programs in a highly volatile revenue environment, providing community leadership, fostering innovation, strengthening and supporting diversity within the workforce, and structuring services for optimal alignment and collaboration.
Cordano has held several leadership roles in different sectors, including health care; higher education as assistant dean for the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota; and in government as an assistant attorney general for the State of Minnesota. She is a founding member of Metro Deaf School, a pre-k through eighth grade school, a bilingual-bicultural charter school for deaf and hard of hearing children in St. Paul, and a founding board member of Minnesota North Star Academy, a bilingual-bicultural charter high school for deaf and hard of hearing students. In 2003, Cordano, along with Vice President Walter Mondale and former Minnesota Governor Elmer A. Anderson, was a recipient of the inaugural Public Leadership Award from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. To read her full biography, click here.
Established in 1864, Gallaudet University is the world's only four-year, liberal arts university at which all of its programs and services are designed for deaf and hard of hearing students.
Gallaudet's current president, T. Alan Hurwitz, is retiring at the end of this year. His five-and-a-half year term began in January 2010. Last year, he agreed to a six-month contract extension to allow enough time for a thorough and comprehensive search process for a new university president.
"The goal for the presidential selection process was to select someone who would be described as a transformational leader; someone who will work to establish a vision that is shared by the entire campus community and inspire the community toward positive change," said Harker. "Ms. Cordano brings to the position experiences and skills built in both traditional and non-traditional settings -- skills that can be applied toward transformational change at Gallaudet so we can continue to successfully serve future generations of deaf, hard of hearing and hearing students."
The selection of Cordano is a result of a year-long search process led by a committee representing a cross-section of the campus community. Three finalist candidates were announced on August 11, and in September, each candidate visited campus, met with constituent groups and presented at a campuswide open forum. This week, the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees interviewed each candidate and made a final selection at the close of its fall meeting.
"I want to thank the entire community for making me feel welcome throughout this selection process," said Cordano. "There is no other place like this in the world and I'm honored to have been chosen to lead and serve this unique, one-of-a-kind university. With Gallaudet's world-class researchers and faculty, innovative academic programs, a motivated, ambitious student body, and a dedicated staff that serves all institutional needs, there is great promise to develop and graduate future leaders who will make significant contributions to our country and the world. I look forward to working with the entire university on the transition process over the next several months."
Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.
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