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President Hurwitz gives final Welcome Back Address

September 22, 2015
By Nathan Ramsier
Arrow Buff

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For the final time in his tenure as president, Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz gave his Welcome Back Address to the Gallaudet community at Elstad Auditorium on September 1. Joining him were the four governance leaders, Dr. Khadijat “Kubby” Rashid, chair of the Faculty Senate; Dr. Kojo Amissah, Gallaudet Staff Council chair; Mary Harman, Student Body Government president; and Keith Doane, Graduate Student Association president; along with Bernard Bragg, ’52 & H-’88.  During this address, Bragg was officially inducted into the Gallaudet University Hall of Fame.

To watch a video of the speech, click here.

After welcoming the governance leaders to share their welcoming remarks, Hurwitz delivered his address which reflected on his tenure, shared campus updates and academic developments, and expressed appreciation for those who had helped guide his presidency.

“While this is my final welcome back address to you, I will continue to celebrate the progress and success of this esteemed University along with you in the coming years. Gallaudet will always be close to my heart,” said Hurwitz.  

Together, the governance leaders described the unique nature of Gallaudet. Rashid emphasized that the campus feels like home for many and that faculty and staff contribute to the tight-knit community. Amissah also acknowledged the collective nature of the University body and explained that “we’re all in it together.” Harman, too, touched on the idea of Gallaudet being a place of home and thanked those who made this possible. Lastly, Doane remarked that a place where you feel comfortable allows you to be yourself, and he encouraged the student body to take advantage of this. He closed by saying: “There is no other place like this is the world!”

President Hurwitz reflected on his tenure, acknowledging that the Gallaudet community has been through both exciting and challenging times during his presidency. Yet he noted that these experiences have only made the University become more resilient.

“The strong sense of community is one of the things Vicki and I will miss most about Gallaudet,” he said.

Hurwitz then took the opportunity to thank the faculty and staff who he has worked with over the past six years and who represent the foundation of the University’s continued success.

President Hurwitz focused on Gallaudet’s new brand, which revolves around three key words that sum up the Gallaudet Advantage: Connect, Discover, and Influence. Hurwitz went on to explain this brand tagline: “Our students ‘connect’ with professors, staff, and new friends, ‘discover’ challenging, rigorous academic programs, a proud bilingual community, and ‘influence’ the future by sharing your experiences, by engaging with others, and being an ambassador for Gallaudet.”

Hurwitz went on to update the community of the new dormitory for the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD). Hurwitz said that work is in progress and that the new dorm is expected to open in time for the fall 2016 semester.

Another undertaking that will change the face of the campus is in progress as well. Launched on September 2, an international architectural design competition is underway this fall for the corner of Sixth Street and Florida Avenue and other parts of campus. While this is a global competition, Hurwitz stated that the Gallaudet community will be heavily involved in the process to guarantee the inclusion of the input of the campus community as well as DeafSpace design principles.

Turning to new developments in academics, President Hurwitz announced that an undergraduate course of study in risk management and insurance is in the process of being established thanks to a grant from the Maguire Foundation. “I’m thrilled that so many students are interested in the program, which will inevitably lead to increased job opportunities,” said Hurwitz.

Another new course that is being developed focuses on entrepreneurship. The goal of the new business department course is to give “emerging entrepreneurs the chance to turn their dreams into reality,” said Hurwitz.

Pigmental Studios, an animation studio that has relocated its headquarters from Los Angeles to the Gallaudet campus, will offer yet another opportunity for students. President Hurwitz explained that this innovative studio “will provide internship and job opportunities in the field of animation for film, TV, gaming, commercials and the web.”

President Hurwitz followed this by describing another campus addition; the opening of the new science labs in the Hall Memorial Building set to take place in the spring of 2016. The renovation of these labs will be completed with DeafSpace concepts and designed specifically for interactions between deaf students and instructors.

 “These are only a few examples I’ve shared today about the exciting developments taking place on campus,” Hurwitz stated. “We have so much to be proud of that is taking place at Gallaudet, and I encourage you to get involved- Connect. Discover. Influence!”

Explaining the recent revival of the University’s Hall of Fame, Hurwitz announced that Dr. Bernard Bragg, ’52 & H-’88, would be honored as the newest inductee. The Hall of Fame had been inactive for many years before being reopened in 2014 in step with the University’s 150th anniversary. While 14 people were inducted in the reviving of the Hall last year, Bragg is the sole recipient of the 2015 Hall of Fame award.  

Bragg, whom Hurwitz credited as an actor, poet, writer, director, and teacher, was invited to the podium where he expressed immense gratitude for the award and for the inspiration he found in his professors.

“Thank you for recognizing what I have always been striving to accomplish, to share with others my passion for the best, the most authentic, in art and in life,” he said.

President Hurwitz took the stage one final time to express his appreciation for the kindness and support shown to him and his wife over their last six years.

“Together we’ve have moments of joy and triumph, and faced challenges and obstacles as well, and we will leave at the end of the year cherishing the experiences here at Gallaudet.”  

In closing, Hurwitz invited the audience to join him at the second annual Berry Blossom Festival on the Gallaudet Mall, which in addition to the Office of the President was cohosted by Campus Activities and Residence Life and Housing.

22 September 2015
By Nathan Ramsier

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Nathan Ramsier

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