Also see: Thomas Hopkins
and Edward Minor Gallaudet
Also see the sign for GALLAUDET
Also see: Gallaudet
Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. is the only
liberal arts college for deaf and hard of hearing students. The University
has over a hundred years of history behind it. It is responsible for
producing many leaders in the deaf and hard of hearing community. The
University has progressed into much more than a place to learn for its
students. Although the University has experienced many trials and
tribulations it is a respected school and carries great honor in its name.
Gallaudet University is named after Thomas Hopkins
Gallaudet, who was born is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1787. Mr.
Gallaudet was a brilliant student and entered Yale University at the age
of 14. He graduated from Yale first in his class three years later. Having
deep Protestant roots, Mr. Gallaudet decided to join the ministry.
Reverend Gallaudet meet Dr. Mason Cogswell and his daughter Alice. The
child was deaf and Mr. Gallaudet and the girls father were concerned about
the childís education. Dr. Cogswell persuaded Mr. Gallaudet to travel to
England and study their methods of teaching deaf students. He was very
pleased with his findings and traveled home with a companion and the two
started the first school for the deaf, the American School for the Deaf.
Alice was one of the first students and the school still educates today.
The University began when Amos Kendall donated two
acres of his land in Washington D.C. for deaf and blind students that were
seeking aide. Mr. Kendall became involved with the children and petitioned
the court to make them his wards. Kendall received aide from the
government and began the Columbia Institute for the Instruction for the
Deaf and Dumb. He made Thomas Hopkins Gallaudetís son, Edward Miner
Gallaudet, the superintendent of the school. At the turn of the 20th
century Gallaudet University briefly shifted to more technical fields of
study. However, when Dr. Percival Hall became the second president of
Gallaudet University he made the curriculum more liberal. In 1954, by an
act of Congress, the Institutionís name was changed to Gallaudet
College. The 1970ís continued as a period of growth for the University.
The school was being effected by laws passed by the government that
involved disabled individuals. Gallaudet University expanded its program
to meet the demands of the new laws.
Perhaps the event that put Gallaudet University on
the map and many individuals remember as the civil rights movement for the
deaf was the events that started on March 9, 1988. The board of trustees
at Gallaudet University announced that the seventh president was going to
be a hearing person. Angry with the decision many students, faculty,
alumni, and staff shut down the campus. The protests lasted a week until
all the demands of the protestors were met. The protestors terms were that
a deaf person must be selected as president, Jane Spilman step down as the
chairperson of the board of trustees, deaf people must have a 51% majority
on the board, and there would be no reprisals against any student and
employee involved in the protest. Dr. I. King Jordan was selected the
eighth and first deaf president. The incident proves that deaf people can
band together effectively for a common cause and succeed.
Gallaudet University plays a crucial role in the
lives of deaf and hard of hearing people everywhere. The school has become
a safe haven for students with a hearing disability because they learn and
grow with other students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Gallaudet may be
remembered by the world because of the events of March 9, 1988 but the
students that graduate from the University will always know it as their
Christiansen, John B. & Barnartt, Sharon N.(1995)Deaf President
Now! Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press. 1995.
Gannon, Jack R.(1989) The Week The World Heard Gallaudet
Washington D.C.: Gallaudet University Press. 1989
No Author. (1997, Nov. 7) Gallaudet University. Copyright 1996
Retrieved 24, Oct. 2001:
The sign for "GALLAUDET."
Note: The sign "Gallaudet" is similar
to the sign for "glasses."
More on Gallaudet
Note: photo credit for photograph of Gallaudet University: Ira Meinhofer
The History and Significance of Gallaudet
by Kathryn Little
I. King Jordan, a past president
of Gallaudet University, once said, ďWhen you talk to people who can
hear and you ask them what they think it would be like to be a deaf
person, then all of their thinking is ĎWell, I couldnít do this.
Canít, canít, canít, canít, canítÖí - they would start listing all
the things they canít do. And I donít think like that. Deaf people
donít think like that. We think about what we can doÖĒ (Through Deaf
This sense of perseverance and accomplishment is the driving force
behind the success of Gallaudet University today, and this school
has become an icon of achievement for the Deaf community. In order
to understand how this school has impacted our society for more than
a century, itís necessary to understand the history of this
The roots of Gallaudet University can be traced back to the
eighteenth century, when Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was born and
educated. Gallaudet was a true intellectual prodigy as evidence by
his graduation from Yale as the top student in his class Ė at the
age of seventeen. After completing some years of independent study
and a law apprenticeship, Gallaudet prepared to work as a salesman,
but rather felt called to serve in the ministry instead. Little did
Mr. Gallaudet know that a little girl named Alice Cogswell was about
to change his life, along with the future of Deaf education in
Nine-year-old Alice was the deaf daughter of Gallaudet's neighbor,
Dr. Mason Cogswell. Little Alice became deaf at the age of two,
after suffering an attack of spotted fever (Barnard, 1852). Mr.
Cogswell was concerned about the quality of education his daughter
would receive, and asked Gallaudet to travel to Europe to research
methods of educating deaf students. Once there, Gallaudet met the
head of "Institut Royal des Sourds-Muets" and two of its deaf
faculty, Laurent Clerc and Jean Massieu. Gallaudet studied teaching
methodology and sign language at this Institute before convincing
Laurent Clerc to return with him to the US and open a school for the
deaf. The school they founded, the American School for the Deaf, was
the first permanent school for deaf children established in this
country. Mr. Gallaudet acted as principal of the school for more
than a decade. (Gallaudet University: The Legacy Begins, 2008).
The Gallaudet family contribution to the education of deaf children
did not end with Thomas. His son Edward and wife Sophia were to
become the superintendent and matron of the Columbia Institution for
the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind. In 1864, Congress
permitted the college to award college degrees to its students and
Gallaudet was made president of the college. The first graduation,
consisting of three students who had completed the course of study,
occurred in 1869 and Gallaudet presided over the ceremony. The
diplomas were signed by the president of the United States, Ulysses
Large scale evolution was in store for the college in the twentieth
century. In 1954, the college changed its name to Gallaudet College
to honor the contributions of Thomas Gallaudet. In 1970, President
Nixon signed a bill that established secondary schools on the
Gallaudet campus that were devoted to providing education to younger
deaf students through the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education
Center. In 1986, another act of congress on behalf of the college
bestowed Gallaudet with university status. In 1988, the Deaf
President Now protest united students, faculty, and alumni across
the country in support of installing a Deaf person as Gallaudet's
next president. Thus, the universityís eighth president overall
became the first deaf president, and his name was I. King Jordan.
Currently, the course of studies at Gallaudet University provides
paths leading to Bachelorís of Arts or Sciences, Master of Sciences,
and Doctoral degrees and its alumni are included in the ranks of
lawyers, scholars, investment bankers, and others. (Gallaudet
University: Gallaudet History, 2008).
Barnard, Henry. (1852). Tribute to Gallaudet: A discourse in
commemoration of the life, character, and services of the Rev.
Thomas H. Gallaudet. Retrieved November 22, 2008, from http://www.saveourdeafschools.org/tribute_to_gallaudet.pdf
Gallaudet History. (2008). Gallaudet University. Retrieved November
22, 2008, from http://www.gallaudet.edu/x228.xml
The Legacy Begins. (2008). Gallaudet University. Retrieved November
22, 2008, from http://www.gallaudet.edu/x229.xml
Through Deaf Eyes. (2007). Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved
November 20, 2008, from http://www.pbs.org/weta/throughdeafeyes/resources/questions.html
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