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Presidential briefing focuses on partnerships, pulling down barriers

November 16, 2010
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President Alan Hurwitz invited D.C. community leaders, government contacts, and members of the Board of Trustees and Board of Associates to his first presidential briefing on November 3. The event, entitled “From Isolation to Innovation,” detailed campus efforts to forge synergistic bonds with the D.C. community. Pairing a breakfast reception with the formal presentation, it also served as a networking opportunity.

Dr. Hurwitz mentioned several initiatives that have linked Gallaudet to the Washington, D.C. community or will soon do so. But Gallaudet could do more, Hurwitz said, and he sees the University rising to a new level of collaboration in the years to come. “I look forward to leading Gallaudet as we begin this exciting new chapter,” he said.

Indeed, Gallaudet has already turned the page, as became evident in a presentation by Fred Weiner, executive director of Program Development. Weiner explained that Gallaudet and the Northeast area are redefining town-gown dynamics in many ways, and that they will continue moving forward.

The physical presence of Gallaudet is set to evolve, thanks to initiatives embraced by both the University and the D.C. Office of Planning. In the future that these two entities envision, the campus will reach beyond its 6th Street border, street cars will run along the Florida Avenue edge of the campus, Gallaudet will boast a top-notch baseball complex open for community use, and more employees will call the immediate neighborhood home.

New projects in this arena can draw on relationships through the Gallaudet Community Relations Council.

On the academic front, Gallaudet will be working to expand its partnerships with other schools in the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area to offer joint degrees and other opportunities. Another initiative will expand internship potential for students on Capitol Hill and with D.C.-area businesses.

City officials are among the strongest supporters of the move toward greater innovation. Harry Thomas, Jr., the councilmember for Ward 5 where the University is located, has been a constant presence at community events on campus. China Terrell, of the General Counsel Committee in the office of Councilmember Tommy Wells, came to the breakfast to pledge support from the Ward 6 official.

D.C. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barbara Lang also attended the event with a readiness to partner and advise.

During a question and answer period at the close of the event, several attendees asked how they could help and publicly pledged support for Gallaudet initiatives. Among them was Aaron Bishop, the incoming executive director of the National Council on Disability. Bishop extended an invitation to Gallaudet students to apply for internships.

Representatives also came from local and national businesses, the North of Massachusetts Avenue Business Improvement District, the office of Senator Sherrod Brown, the U.S. Department of Education, and other federal offices.

Weiner commented that with the support of these community stakeholders, together with a strong master plan, many opportunities are being made available.

“It is time to break down the barriers,” Weiner said. “We have so much to offer the community!”

 

President Hurwitz plans to hold his next briefing during the spring 2011 semester.

–Rhea Yablon Kennedy

16 November 2010

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