Alumni eNewsletter: 2008 year in review and happy holidays! (Archives)

Dear Alumni,

Season’s greetings!

Another year is coming to an end and, as always, it is time for us to take a moment to look back, as well as to wonder about what is ahead. Gallaudet is doing exactly the same thing!
The University has served the deaf well since its inception in 1864. For many years, the University was the only place where deaf individuals could receive a collegiate education. In the last 40 years, that has changed. We have seen many colleges and universities starting their own programs serving deaf people. We also have seen legislative changes providing greater access for deaf students wherever they choose to pursue a degree. We have seen technological advances providing more opportunities in more areas than ever before.

Where does the University fit into this picture? What will its role be and how will it operate in the years ahead? These are questions we face that must be addressed well beyond our 2007-2011 strategic plan. Gallaudet is forming a new plan and wants to know what the community thinks. This year, the Board of Trustees began work on the Long Range Strategic Planning initiative, also known as Vision 2020, and established a task force and steering committee to carry it out. The trustees invited GUAA President Alyce Slater Reynolds, ’76 & G-’78, to serve on the Joint BoT/Community Task Force on Long Range Visioning and Strategic Planning (JTF for short). GUAA Executive Director Sam Sonnenstrahl, ’79 & G-’84, was nominated by the GUAA Board to serve on the Campus Steering Committee.

The planning is already moving forward. Last week, the JTF and Campus Steering Committee came together for their first major meeting--a two-day retreat. Different views and thoughts were shared. We saw some common threads such as the viability of American Sign Language as the visual language of instruction. Questions were raised about the pool of students in the year of 2020 and the role of the University in deaf education.

There will be numerous meetings that will help the Board of Trustees to chart our path into the future.

The search for Gallaudet's tenth president is moving forward, with the establishment of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) and a timeline for future steps in the selection process. PSAC members, which include representation from the faculty, staff, students, the Clerc Center, and the administration, were introduced to the Gallaudet community at a town hall meeting on December 3. (On December 22, the PSAC announced that Lance Fischer, '71, will represent alumni). At that same meeting, Board of Trustees Vice Chair Frank Wu and PSAC Chair Jim Macfadden explained their plans for the search and answered questions.

Also at that meeting, Macfadden announced that PSAC has selected the search firm Isaacson, Miller ( He said that PSAC plans to launch a presidential search web site in January 2009, and review applications through the spring. Next, the PSAC will announce the finalists in the late spring or summer. Each candidate will be invited to campus in the fall to meet with Gallaudet constituencies, and the PSAC will collect the community's feedback. The board will announce its final decision in a public forum in October, and the new president will assume his or her duties on January 1, 2010.

With those thoughts about the University’s future, let’s take a quick look back at 2008.

This year, the University saw:
- Its accreditation reaffirmed by MSCHE, our accrediting body
- Completion of the Campaign for Gallaudet’s Future and the opening of the James Lee Sorenson Language and Communication Center

This year, the alumni community celebrated:

- The Gerald "Bummy" Burstein, ’50, Endowed Chair in Leadership becoming Gallaudet’s first chair established and endowed by a deaf person
- An event-filled Homecoming weekend (having good weather helped!)
- The Gallaudet Athletics Hall of Fame inducting 10 deserving people
- The Alumni Relations Office welcoming Abigail (Strauss) Drake, ’97 & G-’99, as assistant director of alumni outreach and student programs

This year, the GUAA:
- Raised more than $15,000 for Gallaudet students with proceeds from the GUAA-hosted Gallaudet Golf Open
- Completed the election of the 2008-2012 GUAA Board and the new members began their new terms after the Homecoming weekend
- Saw the end of "Bummy" Burstein’s 30-year service on the board and honored him by making him the first GUAA Board of Directors emeritus

Although strides have been made at Gallaudet, we have yet more issues to address. This includes a decline in enrollment, prompting some financial belt-tightening measures. Although the alumni giving goal was met for Fiscal Year 2008, we will ask alumni to come through even more in Fiscal Year 2009.
In the spirit of the holidays, please consider giving to the University. For more information and options for giving, go to

Here is another gift idea–give your loved ones a lifetime GUAA membership. It is $75 for life. If the person is currently a student, it is $50 for life. For more information, go to

As another year comes to a close, we would like to thank all of our alumni and their families for being a part of Gallaudet. Whether you gave financially, volunteered at a Gallaudet event, came "home" for Homecoming, or kept the University in your thoughts and your heart, you helped make 2008 a wonderful year for your alma mater .

The GUAA Board and Alumni Relations staff wish you happy holidays!

President Alyce Slater Reynolds (Calif.), ’76 & G-’78
Vice President Michael Moore (Md.), ’68
Secretary Nancy Kensicki (Md.), ’65
Treasurer Terrence Berrigan (Md.), ’78
Board Member – Home Region, Karen Sheffer-Tucker (Md.), ’81
Board Member – East Region, June Rothenberg McMahon (Fla.), ’74
Board Member – Middle Region, Pauline Wood (La.), ’74
Board Member – West Region, Linda Hatrak Cundy (Alberta), ’74

GUAA Executive Director and Alumni Relations Director Sam Sonnenstrahl, ’79 & G-’84
Alumni Relations Assistant Director Abigail (Strauss) Drake, ’97 & G-’99
Alumni Relations Administrative Assistant Sonia Brown

Posted: 22 Dec 2008

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