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Welcome Home Week Highlights

September 3, 2021

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The 2021-2022 academic year is underway, and our students, faculty, and staff are back in full force! Upperclass undergraduate and returning graduate students arrived the weekend of August 28-29, joining first- and second-year students and new graduate students who had come the previous week for orientation. Enrollment and retention numbers remain steady, a testament to our success during the nearly 18 months of enforced virtual learning.

This week has been full of high-spirited events as the university resumes face-to-face teaching and learning. Of the many events this week, two stand out: President Cordano’s Welcome Home address on Wednesday, and the formal opening of the Center for Black Deaf Studies the same day. 

An enthusiastic audience attended the Welcome Home address. Audience members waved light sticks as they joined emcee Melissa Elmira Yingst, ’99, and Gally the Bison in a spirited pre-address dance performance., provided musical accompaniment. This was the first known deaf-led video production and livestream in the university’s history. A huge thanks to Gallaudet Technology Services (GTS) and Gallaudet Interpreter Service (GIS) for making the event possible and accessible. 

President Cordano’s address included a moment to reflect on our 18 months apart, and to recognize the accomplishments of our community. Cordano also took the opportunity to introduce our deaf-led, diverse leadership team, celebrating the milestone in the university’s history. Cordano’s address was accompanied by lively visuals and media, which supported the livestream and made the experience immersive for all viewers, whether on campus or joining from afar. 

The Center for Black Deaf Studies, established during the summer of 2020, held its formal in-person opening Wednesday afternoon at the Kellogg Conference Hotel. Dr. Carolyn D. McCaskill, ’77, G-’79, & PhD ‘05, the Center’s founding director, and Evon J. Black, ’87 & G-’96, associate director, led the program. Other presenters included President Cordano, Organization of Equity for Staff of Color (OESOC) chair Adrienne Morgan, Student Body Government president Aubrey Moorman, Black Student Union president Romel Thurman, Interim Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Elizabeth A. Moore, ’81, G-’94, & PhD ’11; and retired federal government official and long-time community advocate Dr. Ernest E. Hairston, ’61 & PhD ’94. Aarron Loggins, ’08, and  Sho’Roc (Keith Brown, E-’04) provided entertainment, along with DJ Kazeem Babatunde, ’09

During the CBDS event, the formal name of the planned Louise B. Miller memorial was unveiled. The Louise B. Miller Pathways and Gardens: A Legacy to Black Deaf Children will be a memorial for healing through remembrance. Go to the memorial website for more information. Miller family members were in attendance, and there was Black ASL interpretation for the duration of the program.

Other events during the week included Welcome Home booths where Gallaudet “swag” was distributed to campus community members, a vigil to remember people whom we have lost during the pandemic, the grand opening of the newly renovated Marketplace, a community appreciation luncheon, and various student events.

3 September 2021

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Robert Weinstock

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