Alumni eNewsletter: Strong alumni flavor among 2014 honorary degree recipients at 145th Commencement (Archives)

A memo from the Presidents' Office was sent out to the campus community on November 1, 2013 announcing the honorary degree recipients for the 145th Commencement exercises on Friday, May 16, 2014.

Dear Campus Community,

We are delighted to inform you that three highly esteemed alumni and leaders in the deaf community have been selected by the Board of Trustees as recipients of honorary degrees at Gallaudet's 145th Commencement exercises. On Friday, May 16, 2014, the University will award degrees to Philip W. Bravin, '66, Father Thomas J. Coughlin, '72, and President Emeritus I. King Jordan, '70, in recognition of their outstanding service. All three have accepted our invitation to receive these awards.

In addition, Mr. Bravin has graciously agreed to share his words of wisdom with the Class of 2014 as Commencement speaker.

Acknowledging the milestone achievements of Mr. Bravin, Father Couglin, and Dr. Jordan is a particularly significant event for our 2014 Commencement, since it coincides with another pivotal moment in our history -- the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Gallaudet Charter by President Abraham Lincoln.

The 2014 awardees are so well-known in the deaf community that they hardly need an introduction. Mr. Bravin gained acclaim as chair of the presidential search committee responsible for the selection and screening of finalists for the choice of Gallaudet University's president in 1988, a tumultuous process that led to Deaf President Now. The movement held the world's attention riveted to Gallaudet and led to the selection of Dr. Jordan as the University's first deaf president. The repercussions of DPN continue to this day as the world becomes more and more aware of the contributions of deaf people.

As a result of DPN, Mr. Bravin became the first deaf chair of a Board of Trustees that was composed, for the first time, of a deaf majority. He was a trustee for 20 years, serving eight of those years as chair. Always a staunch advocate for our students, Mr. Bravin was instrumental in helping the University maintain a sound financial base and keep Gallaudet on the forefront with technology. Mr. Bravin has a long and distinguished record of service to organizations at the local, state, regional, and national level. He currently serves as vice president for business development and outreach for ZVRS.

Father Coughlin is well known for his pioneering work in the ministerial field. He is one of the first deaf priests in North America, and his work in the deaf community -- particularly with youth -- is nothing short of outstanding. After working as a home missionary priest for the International Catholic Deaf Association, he founded Camp Mark Seven, a program for Catholic deaf youth and adults, in Old Forge, N.Y. He also is noted for establishing the House of Studies for Deaf Seminarians in Yonkers, N.Y., which was later transferred to San Antonio, Tex., where it became known as the Dominican Missionaries for the Deaf Apostolate.

During his more than 18-year tenure as president, Dr. Jordan was an effective ambassador for the University, building strong relations in Congress and in the business community. Under his leadership, the University's endowment and its federal appropriation increased tremendously, and its academic programs and scholarships increased in number and quality. He led a successful capital campaign that raised funds to build the Student Academic Center. What's more, Dr. Jordan was a champion for the passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. In 2010, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Gallaudet's enduring tradition of awarding degrees to notable individuals as a symbol of gratitude for their exemplary accomplishments before our annual graduating class is perpetuated thanks to the hard work of our Faculty Committee on Honorary Degrees. This committee closely reviews nominations for the awards and recommends selections based on strict standards and procedures adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2010. Click here for the criteria for nominations for honorary degrees and professors emeriti, and for an explanation of the standards and procedures leading to the trustees' selections for these awards.

We wholeheartedly concur with the Board of Trustees' choice of these individuals to recognize during our upcoming Commencement exercises, and we highly commend the Faculty Committee on Honorary Degrees for its diligence in reviewing the nominations and making its recommendations. We also are confident that the entire University community realizes and appreciates the far-reaching contributions these honorary degree recipients have made that have benefited so many people. We also look forward to having Drs.Rachel Hartig, Robert E. Johnson, Carol LaSasso, Scott Liddell, Ellen Loughran, Ceil Lucas, and Donald Peterson join us as we congratulate them on their achievements by awarding them professor emeriti status.

As always, it will give us great satisfaction to award graduates their diplomas for the successful completion of their education from this great university.


T. Alan Hurwitz

Benjamin J. Soukup
Chair, Board of Trustees

Posted: 7 Nov 2013

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