Alumni eNewsletter: Sorenson Media and Sorenson Legacy Foundation Donate $5 Million to Gallaudet (Archives)

On November 4, 2004, Gallaudet University announced that Sorenson MediaŽ and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation have donated $5 million to the University. The gift, which is the second-largest private donation in the school's history, will be used to create the James Lee Sorenson Language and Communication Center.

The Center will be an academic teaching and research facility devoted to deaf people's language, culture, history, and community. "We are grateful for this extremely generous contribution," said Dr. I. King Jordan, president of Gallaudet University. "The Sorensons' gift enables the creation of a unique learning environment where students can acquire the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a constantly changing world and to strengthen and preserve their identities as deaf people."

The creation of the Sorenson Language and Communication Center represents a significant step forward in the University and Sorenson Media relationship, which began in April 2003 when the two organizations partnered to establish a video relay service. Sorenson Video Relay ServiceŽ (VRS) combined Sorenson Media technology and equipment with the expertise of certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters to allow deaf and hard-of-hearing users to place video relay calls to friends, family members, and business associates.

"I am delighted by the opportunity this Center will provide to extend the partnership between Sorenson Media and Gallaudet University," said James Lee Sorenson, CEO of Sorenson Media. "We will continue to work together to aggressively develop and utilize technology that enhances communication and learning." A prominent entrepreneur, business leader and philanthropist, James Lee Sorenson has led Sorenson Media's ascent to global technology leadership in video services, video compression, and video communication over the Internet.

"I am honored to join with my son James Lee in contributing to a project that can improve the quality of life for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing," said James LeVoy Sorenson, chairman of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation. "This is something we are proud to put our name and resources behind." A pioneer in the medical devices and biotechnology arenas, James LeVoy Sorenson is known foremost for inventing the first cardio-vascular pressure monitoring system to monitor the human heart in real-time. James LeVoy Sorenson's many other groundbreaking healthcare innovations include the first disposable venous catheter, the first disposable surgical mask, and the first blood recycling system.

The Sorenson Language and Communication Center will foster collaborative research across multiple disciplines. The University intends to house the following departments and programs in the new facility:

Students in the Center's departments will be able to pursue bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. In addition, the University plans to disseminate its knowledge to the larger community by publishing the results of its research and through national outreach programs.

Gallaudet University launched its $20 million campaign to construct the Language and Communication Center in January 2004. The building planning committee, which includes a broad base of academic, administrative, and student input under the direction of Provost Dr. Jane Fernandes, is currently developing specifications to ensure that the architects design a visually accessible facility that conforms to the communication needs and desires of the campus' deaf community. "When it is finished, this will be an extraordinary facility-something that could happen only at Gallaudet University," said Jordan.

A story was featured in The Washington Post on November 5, 2004.

Posted: 9 Nov 2004

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