Alumni eNewsletter: Happy holidays from the Alumni Office! (Archives)

Dear Alumni,

Happy Holidays!

How should we describe the year 2009 for alumni? It was the third and last year for alumnus Dr. Robert Davila, ’53, as president of the University. He has steered the University through one of the toughest periods of our history. He didn't waste any time when he took over on January 1, 2007! There is a story of him paging his assistants at 5:30 a.m. that day. He certainly made use of every minute in office. We are not "home free," there are challenges ahead. But the future of Gallaudet looks brighter today. We expect Dr. Davila not to be completely retired. He already has ideas on how to improve the lives of deaf people. We wish him well!

The Gallaudet University Alumni Association has expressed its gratitude to Dr. Davila’s service on several occasions. GUAA President Alyce Slater Reynolds, ’76 & G-’78, announced a $10,000 donation by the GUAA to the Robert R., '53, & Donna E. Davila Career Development Fund. Also, through the Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund, renowned artist William Sparks was commissioned to do a portrait of Dr. Davila. The portrait was unveiled at the Gala in his honor on December 5. It will be stored for a while, then displayed along with the other presidential portraits in Chapel Hall after his retirement.

This year another prominent alumnus was recognized. During Homecoming, Gerald "Bummy" Burstein, ’50, was honored by having the Gallaudet Leadership Institute renamed for him. It is now the Burstein Leadership Institute.

The University underwent a successful presidential search in 2009, resulting in the selection of Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz as its tenth president. "Bummy" Burstein was asked by the Board of Trustees to chair the alumni group when it met with the four presidential finalists. It was the first time alumni were recognized as a "stand-alone" group during the presidential search process. With a recommendation from the GUAA, Sean Virnig, ’97, was selected to represent the alumni on the Presidential Transitional Advisory Committee. This committee is helping with Dr. Hurwitz’s transition between the announcement of his selection and the beginning of his presidency. We also want to thank Lance Fischer, ’71, for his service as the alumni representative on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.

Also this year, the Board of Trustees approved the University's goals, known as the Long Range Stragetic Plan, to guide it until the year of 2015. GUAA President Reynolds served on the LRSP task force.

This year, the Gallaudet University Alumni Association raised, granted, or donated a total of about $119,000! Among the projects that benefited from the GUAA's efforts are:

- Dr. Davila portrait and the Career Development Fund ($33,500)
- Proceeds from the second annual Gallaudet Golf Open and the ASL film, Gerald ($4,200)
- Graduate Fellowship Fund scholarships for deaf and hard of hearing students pursuing terminal degrees ($42,500)
- Weightlifting equipment for the Athletics Department ($12,000 through the Charles R. Ely, G-1892/Donald A. Padden, ’45 Athletic Endowment Fund)
- Alumni House (In accordance with the agreement made between the BOT and the GUAA, the GUAA is responsible for the payout from the Alumni House Maintenance Fund. For the fiscal year of 2009, the payout for this fund was $26,618. The GUAA board agreed not to use this fund, which enabled the University to claim the balance as the cost of maintaining the Peikoff Alumni House for the year. This is considered an "unofficial" contribution by the GUAA to the University.

Individual alumni also made numerous donations to the University. Some in tens of thousands of dollars! The Class of 1959 donated and pledged more than $20,000 for the museum project. The participation rate for alumni donations is 9.5 per cent. Total donations by individual alumni to the University in 2009 is more than $320,000. This is better than last two years. Thanks! Let’s keep it up for 2010.

For more information and options for giving to the university, go to

Even though the home office is short staffed due to financial constraints, it was able to accomplish many tasks. The GUAA and the home office would not have done these things if it was not for the help of alumni. Thanks to you!

Here is a 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

I’d say it was a good year for alumni. We will miss Dr. Davila and are looking forward to 2010 with Dr. Hurwitz aboard!

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

Posted: 18 Dec 2009

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