Alumni eNewsletter: Capital campaign reaches goal (Archives)

Generous donors helped Gallaudet exceed the $28 million earmarked for the James Lee Sorenson Language and Communication Center (SLCC) and also to endow the I. King Jordan Chair in Leadership, the other campaign priority.

"The campaign’s success at such an important time in the University’s history strongly reflects the tremendous support and belief many people have for Gallaudet University and our students," said President Robert Davila. The Campaign for Gallaudet's Future kicked off in January 2004 to secure funding for the James Lee Sorenson Language and Communication Center. In addition, when I. King Jordan, Gallaudet’s 8th president, announced his retirement in 2006, the Board of Trustees expanded the campaign to include the establishment of the I. King Jordan Chair in Leadership.

Generous gifts from Sorenson Communications and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation resulted in naming the Language and Communication Center after nationally recognized business leader and entrepreneur James Lee Sorenson, chair of Sorenson Development. Sorenson is noted for his help in developing several industry categories in today's business world, including digital compression software, mass-market videophones, and video relay service for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

The SLCC, which is expected to be completed in the fall of 2008, will create a visu-centric space for collaborative learning, teaching, and research at the University – an environment supported by and created from Gallaudet’s commitment to American Sign Language (ASL) and visual learning. The center will also house the Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2), an initiative of a multi-million dollar grant Gallaudet received from the National Science Foundation (NSF). VL2, one of six NSF Science of Learning Centers, will bring together deaf and hearing researchers and educators from a variety of disciplines to explore how deaf people acquire visual language and learn to read.

The center will also be the world’s first model of a new concept, the visu-centric environment. The visu-centric concept goes beyond merely adapting a structure to meet the specific needs of deaf people to one that completely embodies "the deaf way of being," aesthetically as well as practically. For the first time in the University’s history, deaf people, including a deaf architect, were charged with envisioning a space that clearly, unmistakably says: This is a place designed by and for deaf people. The exterior and interior designs will incorporate open spaces, natural lighting, and room layouts that are conducive to visual communication.

The Jordan Chair will honor Dr. Jordan’s 19 years of service as president of Gallaudet. It will recognize his role as the University’s first deaf president, and his many notable accomplishments in creating social and educational change for deaf people around the world. The Jordan Chair will provide opportunities for seasoned scholars to create and share new knowledge in strategic areas vital to the lives of deaf people, including international and domestic advocacy, organizational development, the study of literacy, and the study and application of psychology.

"These initiatives cement Gallaudet’s place as the world leader in research and knowledge on deaf people and their language." said Dr. Davila. He added, "I want to take a moment to express special thanks to James Lee Sorenson and his family for making this center a reality."

Posted: 14 Mar 2008

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