WASHINGTON, DC— As the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees prepares to meet this Sunday, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni urged the trustees to stand firmly behind their selection of Jane K. Fernandes as the next president. For months, Gallaudet has been engulfed in controversy over the selection of Fernandes, formerly* the provost, who is due to assume the position in January.
“Gallaudet’s trustees engaged in an inclusive and thoughtful selection process and concluded Dr. Fernandes was the best candidate to lead Gallaudet into the future,” said ACTA president Anne D. Neal. “They should not give in to unlawful protesters who have their own agendas—rather than the school’s—in mind.”
Fernandes’ appointment was announced on May 1; protests began then and resumed this month. Earlier this month,* protesters seized two buildings and blocked access to the campus. The faculty has also issued votes of no confidence in Fernandes, the current president, and the board. According to numerous media accounts, the protests began amid complaints that Fernandes is not “deaf enough” because she learned American Sign Language only in her twenties.
“Not everyone always agrees with the result of a presidential search,” Neal noted. “But disagreement does not mean the board was wrong.”
“At a time when higher education is facing many challenges, it is the board’s obligation to identify a leader who can address the long-term goals of the school,” she concluded. “The Gallaudet board has made its choice and is accountable for the results. The trustees should affirm their choice—and the protesters should allow Fernandes do her job.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, national organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. ACTA has a network of trustees and alumni around the country and has issued numerous reports on higher education, including How Many Ward Churchills?, Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action, The Hollow Core, and Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century.