Alumni eNewsletter: Gallaudet announces honorary degrees and professor emeritus awards (Archives)

Four very deserving individuals were selected to receive honors on May 16 at Gallaudet’s 139th Commencement exercises. Mr. Ed Bosson, ’66, widely known as the "Father of Video Relay Service," and Mr. Charles Williams, a community activist and former member of the Board of Trustees, will be awarded honorary doctorate degrees. Drs. Virginia Gutman, who will retire this spring, and John Van Cleve, who retired this fall, will be named professors emeriti.

Bosson began his quest to bring video communication to the deaf and hard of hearing community in the early 1990s when he persuaded the Texas Public Utility Commission to test a video conference product to see if it could be a viable form of communication for deaf and hard of hearing people. Over the following years, a number of successful VRS trials were held in Texas, and by 2000, Washington state and Texas were providing Internet-enabled VRS, and the Federal Communications Commission began allowing reimbursement for VRS calls. Bosson served as chair of the National Association for State Relay Administrators in 1994, 2002, and 2004. His numerous awards include the Laurent Clerc Award from Gallaudet, the Robert H. Weitbrecht Telecommunications Access Award from TDI, and the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Award.

Williams, who served for 13 years on the University’s Board of Trustees, is noted for his leadership, his community activism, and his career as an educator of deaf students. He has worked tirelessly for the rights of people with disabilities, and has been a staunch advocate for the rights of deaf people of color. Williams is one of the founding members of the National Black Deaf Advocates organization and has worked for Deaf Services of Cleveland for 19 years. Among the advocacy groups he has served on are: the National Association of Deaf Senior Services, where he was vice president; the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Mental Health Board Advisory Committee Regarding Deaf Persons; and the Greater Cleveland Lions Club. His many awards include the National Black Deaf Advocates Linwood Smith Humanitarian Award; the Cuyahoga Community College Black Caucus Award; and the Carrie Dixon Award, Project Dawn, from California State University, Northridge.

Dr. Gutman’s 30-year career at Gallaudet includes serving as chair of the Department of Psychology since 2001, director of the Counseling Center, special assistant to the dean of Student Affairs, director of residence life and acting director of the Counseling Center, director of clinical psychology training, and staff psychologist at the Counseling and Placement Center. Her largest and most significant impact on the University and on the lives of many deaf people comes from her development and stewardship of the clinical psychology doctoral program, which successfully went through the stringent accreditation process by the American Psychological Association. The program has created access for hundreds of deaf people and their families to high quality professional psychological services.

Dr. Van Cleve, whose career at Gallaudet also spanned 30 years, has gained acclaim as a pioneer and internationally recognized scholar in the field of deaf history. In 1991, he served on the steering committee of the First International Conference on Deaf History, and he has regularly presented his research nationally and internationally. He has edited and authored many books related to the deaf community, including the three-volume Gallaudet Encyclopedia of Deaf People and Deafness, of which he was editor-in-chief. He also co-authored A Place of Their Own: Creating the Deaf Community in America, a book which has become a classic in the field of deaf history. He also served in several administrative positions at Gallaudet, including special assistant to the vice president for academic affairs, director of information and technology services (ITS), and executive director of ITS and marketing. His awards include Gallaudet’s Educator of the Year.

Posted: 18 Dec 2007

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