Archive: On The Green
Issue: June 1, 2010 - Vol. 38 No. 25

Dr. Soukup informs community about new dorm, other news from May Board of Trustees meeting

(Board of Trustees Chair Benjamin Soukup emailed the following report to the campus community on May 20.)

Dear Campus Community,

Visiting Kendall Green is always an enjoyable occasion for the Board of Trustees, particularly for the May meeting, where we have the opportunity to share in the excitement of Commencement, and to meet many of you. Our time on campus last week was especially memorable, since we had the honor of inaugurating our 10th president, Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz. This festive ceremony was a fitting tribute to this great leader, and the trustees consider it a privilege to have taken part in this historic occasion.

It is my great pleasure to share more exciting news with you: the Board of Trustees at its May 14 business meeting approved construction of a five-story, 175-bed residence hall on the site of the former Mary Thornberry Building. Construction bids for the project will be solicited early next year, and ground will be broken next spring.

Trustee Richard Kinney, chair of the board’s Committee on Financial and Institutional Affairs (FIA), announced the new residence hall project, stating, “We are looking forward to attending the ribbon cutting ceremony in the fall of 2012!” I’m sure I speak for the rest of the board members when I say that I share Mr. Kinney’s enthusiasm.

The new residence hall will address a predicted shortage of student housing at the University. Projections indicate that if current enrollment trends hold true, demand for residence living on campus could exceed current capacity by the fall of 2012, when we envision completion of the 60,000 square-foot building. At this time, we expect the new facility will accommodate freshmen, but a change in enrollment demographics could affect the residential makeup.

The project is estimated to cost between $17.5 million and $18.5 million. The trustees passed a resolution at the business meeting authorizing the University to seek financing for this and other campus construction projects. The resolution gives Gallaudet flexibility to explore various financing options. The board also approved a nine percent increase in room fees each year from 2012 through 2017 to help fund the project.

This new residence hall supports Goal B of the University’s Strategic Plan to increase undergraduate student enrollment and retention. Specifically, one of the strategies in reaching this goal is to “upgrade physical infrastructure (primarily dormitories) to meet 21st Century student expectations for quality of campus life.”

The board’s approval of the residence hall follows a one-year study by a project team consisting of Vice President for Administration and Finance Paul Kelly, Executive Director of Program Development Fred Weiner, Dean of Student Affairs Dwight Benedict, Director of Campus Design and Planning Hansel Bauman, Director of Campus Life Susan Hanrahan, Campus Life Program Manager Travis Imel, and Department of Business faculty member Sam Swiller, with ongoing input by trustees serving on the FIA committee, and consultants from Brailsford and Dunlavey, a facilities planning firm.

The study began with a two-day, campus-wide workshop hosted by the Office of Campus Design and Planning to explore the role of campus life in students’ overall learning experience. During this workshop, students, faculty, staff, and alumni envisioned a “living and learning” concept for student housing that integrates the activities and spaces where students live, learn, and socialize to enrich the overall learning experience.

Plans that were drawn up as a result of this workshop call for a mix of shared uses on the ground floor dedicated to social interaction, student organizations, and academic programs. Each of the residential floors will feature suite style units accessed through commons areas and study spaces that are also designed to facilitate social and academic interaction. This rich environment is intended to make the Gallaudet experience even more fulfilling.

The Denison House project that is now in progress will provide an early glimpse of the living and learning concept in action when it opens this fall to a diverse group of 10 students and faculty in residence.

I would also like to summarize for you a number of other important matters that the Board of Trustees addressed at our business meeting:

  • Reappointed six board members to new three-year terms—Jorge Diaz-Herrera, Jeff Humber, Richard Kinney, Richard Ladner, James Macfadden, and myself. I would like to note that this is my fourth and final term on the board. 
  • Approved new academic programs—an adult degree program, an online Liberal Studies program, a B.A. in International Studies, a B.S. in Information Technology, and a Ph.D. in Interpreting. 
  • Approved the grant of continuous tenure to the following faculty members—Amy Stevens (General Studies), Frances Marquez (Government and History), Ethan Sinnott (Theatre Arts), Linda Lytle (Counseling), Cheryl Wu (Counseling), Diane Clark (Educational Foundations and Research), and Paul Dudis (Linguistics). 
  • Received a report from Clerc Center Vice President Ed Bosso on the significant progress the Clerc Center has made towards implementing its strategic plan, its self-study accreditation process, and standards-based instruction in compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act. He also shared that the U.S. Department of Education recently conducted a site monitoring visit and was pleased with the work the Clerc Center is doing to meet the requirements of the Education of the Deaf Act. 
  • Approved two amendments to the University Faculty Guidelines—one specifying the causes that could result in removal of tenured or non-tenured faculty, and including sanctions as an alternative to removal, depending on the circumstances; the other clarifying when a faculty member may appeal an adverse personnel action to the University Faculty Committee on Grievances. 
  • Agreed to hold a board retreat in July to discuss budget priorities for the University, restructuring board committees, and other important issues. 
  • Approved requesting a federal appropriation of $160 million for fiscal year 2012, which is consistent with our appropriation requests in recent years. The board agreed to defer approval of the 2011 budget to the July retreat. 
  • Approved maintaining employee salaries at the present rate for fiscal year 2011. 
  • Approved three recommendations by the board’s Audit Committee—changes to the committee’s charter, approval of a charter for the management of advisory services, and approval of a new policy on identity theft protection in response to a new Federal Trade Commission Red Flag Rule requiring businesses and organizations to implement a program to detect, prevent, and mitigate instances of identity theft. 
  • Approved a resolution of appreciation to Frank Wu, who is stepping down as a trustee after sharing his wisdom and guidance with Gallaudet for 10 years—the past four years as vice chair.

Every year, a group of outstanding graduating students is invited to talk to the board’s Committee on Student Affairs about their experiences at Gallaudet and their plans for the future. This year, we enjoyed very informative presentations from Alexander Abenchuchan, Krista Brown, Rachel Rose, and Jamal White. The committee agrees wholeheartedly that direct interaction such as this with our students is one of the most rewarding parts of the meeting, and we want to see this trend continue.

Finally, our new president took the opportunity to thank the board for the support extended to him and his wife, First Lady Vicki Hurwitz, during the past five months they have been on campus. He stated that he is “completely amazed” by the amount of work that everyone does, and added that he is “indeed inspired.” I would like to add that the board shares President Hurwitz’s sentiments about the work you do. We, too, are inspired by the “Gallaudet spirit” and the tireless efforts the community undertakes to make the University great. We pledge our continued commitment to Dr. Hurwitz to help him lead us to an even brighter future.

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