Archive: On The Green
Issue: November 10, 1999 - Vol. 30 No. 4

Commencement’s honorary doctorate degree recipient and professor emeritus selection announced

Gallaudet’s Board of Trustees announced that the University will award an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Benjamin J. Soukup, Jr., and professor emeritus status to Willard Madsen at the 131st Commencement exercises on May 12.

Soukup, E-'74, is chief executive officer of Communication Services for the Deaf (CSD) in Sioux Falls, S.D. CSD is the nation’s largest private, non-profit organization run by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

Madsen, '52, was a faculty member for 39 years until his retirement in 1996. CSD is a corporation with almost 2,000 employees in 28 states, 132 grants and contracts, and an annual budget of $42 million. When it was established in 1975, Soukup, at the age of 23, became its executive director--and its only employee. Throughout the years, CSD, under Soukup’s exceptional leadership and tireless advocacy for deaf people, established itself as a permanent fixture in South Dakota. CSD has built low-income housing for deaf people, fostered relay services, and developed programs on substance abuse and AIDS care. It has provided legal services, interpreter training, independent living services, job coaching, and other important services to the deaf and hard of hearing community.

“Soukup is a visionary and an advocate for deaf and hard of hearing people,” said Glenn Anderson, ’66, chair of the Board of Trustees. “He is a mentor to young deaf leaders and a master of collaboration between the deaf community, the business world, and government. We will be pleased to award Mr. Soukup this honorary degree which he so richly deserves.”

Madsen first served as a faculty member in the English Department, and for many years was the editorial advisor to the student newspaper, The Buff and Blue. In 1971, he became director of the Gallaudet University Sign Language Programs, and he later helped develop and implement the Gallaudet University Sign Communication Proficiency Interview. Madsen was a founder of the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA). His guidance with ASLTA and with the National Association of the Deaf led to a process of certifying sign language instructors across the United States.

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