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President Hurwitz looks to Gallaudet’s future in State of the University address

February 18, 2011
By Todd Byrd
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President Hurwitz outlined the planning process for Gallaudet’s continued success and his confidence in each member of the campus community to carry the University forward at his February 17 State of the University address.

Dr. Hurwitz began his remarks by recalling how the world has been riveted in recent weeks by news reports of the Egyptian people’s struggle for democracy. He commented that he was particularly moved by the will of the Egyptians to protect the objects and symbols of their ancient heritage by forming human chains around their museums.

Gallaudet can learn valuable lessons from Egypt’s history as a once powerful and influential dynasty, said Hurwitz. As the ancient Egyptians used enormous stones to construct temples and pyramids, Gallaudet is building a strong foundation for future generations of students through campus wide planning, he said. This inclusive process has produced important documents, such as strategic plans at both the University and the Clerc Center, the Program Prioritization Task Force report approved on February 11 by the Board of Trustees to help the University maximize student learning outcomes, the current work of the Administrative Programs and Services Review Committee to ensure effective use of campus resources, and an updated Master Plan that provides a framework for capital projects on campus over the next decade. Implementation for these initiatives will be provided by a new building block—the formation of an “Innovation” group that will be charged with collecting ideas over the next few months to help transform the campus. All of these measures, said Hurwitz, “will take us forward. They will prepare us for another generation. They will change our future.”

Planning alone will not suffice in ensuring Gallaudet’s continued success, said Hurwitz. “First, we must believe in ourselves to take us into our future,” he said, adding, “I believe our strengths will carry us forward. I believe in each of you.” Second, Gallaudet must convince future students of its strengths. These two goals must be accomplished in order to increase enrollment, said Hurwitz, and he emphasized that every member of the campus community can play a role in building enrollment by creating a welcoming environment for all students. A third step to ensuring a healthy and vibrant campus is to make the U.S. Congress and Department of Education aware of Gallaudet’s strengths and the worldwide reputation it holds as the preeminent institution of higher learning for deaf and hard of hearing students. This is particularly crucial in the current national climate where all programs receiving federal funds face demands for less. Hurwitz took the opportunity to say that Gallaudet has met these demands by reducing its workforce in recent years, while its student population has risen. “Our story is that … we are doing more with less.” Finally, Gallaudet must convince the outside world of its strengths. The president said he has used his extensive travels as an opportunity to communicate Gallaudet’s mission and its accomplishments with a wide variety of audiences.

Unlike the Egyptians, “Our projects are not 1,000 years long. Instead, they are the realities of the near future,” said Hurwitz. He invited the community to join him in shaping Gallaudet’s future: “Come with me as we fulfill our destiny.”

Read the complete text of President Hurwitz’s State of the University address.

18 February 2011
By Todd Byrd

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