Dr. Bobbie Beth Scoggins selected as 2016 Commencement speaker
April 25, 2016
President Roberta J. Cordano announced on April 22, 2016 that Dr. Bobbie Beth Scoggins will be the honorary degree recipient and speaker for the 2016 Commencement. Scoggins will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters (litterarum humaniorum doctor, honoris causa).
Scoggins has distinguished herself as an advocate, an athlete, a scholar and educator, and a performing artist. By all accounts, Scoggins is a humanitarian and a leader who works tirelessly on behalf of the national deaf community. She is a firm believer in the self-reliance of deaf people, especially for advocacy for educational and communications access.
Scoggins was the fourth woman president of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and during her tenure, the organization released a powerful position statement on American Sign Language (ASL) which stated that access to language is a human right and that all deaf children must have access to ASL as early in life as possible. As NAD president, Scoggins also ensured that the Board of Directors was made up of a diverse body of people and oversaw an initiative, which called on all major dictionaries to add the word "audism" to its volumes.
Scoggins is currently the director of statewide outreach services at the Educational Resource Center on Deafness at the Texas School for the Deaf. Previously, she served for many years as executive director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and was instrumental in the licensing of interpreters, expansion of education reform for deaf and hard of hearing children, and the development of a program to provide telecommunication devices statewide. She also secured funding from the private sector in order to create the seven consecutive Kentucky DeaFestival events (3,000 attendees in 1996 growing to 10,000 in 2012) featuring nationally recognized deaf and hard of hearing visual and performing artists in America. Scoggins raised over $434,000 in cash for these events and in-kind contributions in excess of $300,000 since 1996.
A Texas native, Scoggins graduated from Texas School for the Deaf and attended Gallaudet University and went on to receive her bachelor's and master's degrees at California State University, Northridge. In 1992, she earned her Doctor of Education degree in institutional management at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Scoggins was the recipient of the 1999 Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology's Distinguished Alumna Award: For outstanding accomplishments in serving humankind through the educational and psychological professions, Malibu, California, 1999.
As an athlete, Scoggins was a member of the U.S. women's swimming team at the 1973 Games in Malmo, Sweden, and of the U.S. women's volleyball team at the 1977 Games in Bucharest, Romania. She earned a silver medal in the latter competition. Scoggins continued her involvement in the deaf sports community for many years, and was the first woman to be elected president of the USA Deaf Sports Federation. While she was president, the organization advocated for Deaflympics to have equal status to the Paralympics and traditional Olympics in terms of funding and services.
Scoggins credits her comfort in public speaking to her background in entertainment. As an actor, Scoggins performed the lead role as Sarah in Children of a Lesser God in 13 regional theatre productions across the United States, and on Broadway. She also has performed with the National Theatre of the Deaf, Cleveland Playhouse, and Access Theatre. She has appeared with Oprah Winfrey, and has had other television appearances, including commercials. She appeared on Silent Network as narrator for the performance of "Partnership with Man" and received awards for her role as producer of Tobey's Tales. In 1991, she received both the 1991 National Education Film Festival Silver Apple award and the California Governor's Media Access Award in Children's Programming.
The 2016 Commencement will be held Friday, May 13 at 1:30 p.m. in the Field House on the Gallaudet University campus.