Gallaudet Board of Trustees to Protesters: You are full of it

Interim board chair Celia May Baldwin has sent out an email to the Gallaudet community as a whole that disputes the protester claims of a biased selection and concludes by stating that the board has final say and will not be reassessing their decision. Whether this will have the slightest impact on continued brouhaha remains to be seen. If you’d like the see the letter and its details in their entirety it’s below the jump. Somehow I doubt it’s going to much placate their more extreme critics

Baldwin and Dr. Tom Humphries, Chair of the Student Affairs Committee are supposedly enroute to Gallaudet to have a dialog with protesters and supports alike. Interested parties should be at the Elstad Auditorium at 6:00 p.m. this evening where Humphries and Baldwin will address attendees about the search and selection and then take questions from the audience.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

May 5, 2006
To Members of the Gallaudet Community,

I am deeply concerned that the perception of many of you is that the search process that led to the appointment of Dr. Jane Fernandes as Gallaudet’s ninth president was flawed and did not support diversity and social justice. While I respect the right to disagree with a decision of the Board of Trustees and value open discussion and debate, I also believe it is essential that such discussions are grounded in facts, not misinformation and innuendo.

From the outset, the Board promoted an open, inclusive, and fair process. The campus community constituencies were deeply involved in identifying students, faculty, and staff to serve on the Presidential Search Committee (PSC). The Board wanted a search committee that was diverse and that was achieved. In the interest of assuring broad representation on the search committee, approximately 2/3 were non-board members. This was in marked contrast to presidential searches conducted by many other universities where it is common practice for a majority to be board members.

Proposals were solicited from search consultants and representatives from those submitting proposals were interviewed. The PSC selected Academic Search Consultation Services, a firm that specializes in searches for university presidents and other chief academic officers. Dr. Tobie van der Vorm and Dr. Tom Gerety of academic search met with campus constituencies to identify characteristics desired in the president and participated in most the meetings of the PSC. They helped ensure that best practices in presidential searches, including inclusiveness of diversity and freedom from bias, were followed.

With respect to diversity and social justice, of the six semi-finalists all were deaf and three were either women or people of color. As is typical of searches, the size of the pool of qualified candidates was substantial and the PSC had to consider which within the pool had qualifications that most closely matched those required to carry out the advertised presidential agenda. Six were selected after careful review of the application materials within the context of the desired presidential qualifications/attributes for carrying out the presidential agenda. Lengthy reference checks were done on each of the six using the same questions for each reference. The PSC interviewed each of the six candidates using identical questions that were designed to give each candidate the opportunity to describe how he/she would lead Gallaudet into the future.

The three finalists were chosen after lengthy analysis and discussion of the interviews and review again of the application materials, references, and qualifications/attributes for carrying out the presidential agenda. As you know, the three finalists were brought to campus for two days during which they met with numerous constituencies on campus (students, faculty, staff, teachers and administrators) and gave presentations, followed by questions and answers during an open forum. Feedback forms requesting the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate were distributed at each event.

The PSC carefully reviewed, analyzed, and categorized all feedback received on the forms, via e-mails, letters, and polls. All this information was summarized and shared during a meeting with the full Board of Trustees. The Board also watched the campus presentations as well as the Q and A on DVD, interviewed each of the finalists, and reviewed all of the feedback material that was categorized in binders for each candidate according to student, faculty, staff, administrator, alumni, and unknown. The Board also had all the applications materials and a report of all the reference information. The Board used all of this in information in the deliberations that led to the selection of Dr. Jane Fernandes as Gallaudet University’s ninth president.

I provide this amount of detail so that you will have a fuller understanding of why the Board is confident that all aspects of the search process were conducted with fairness and supported diversity and social justice. Thus, the Board finds no basis for re-opening the search and stands firm in our selection of Dr. Fernandes as the best person to lead Gallaudet University beginning January 2007.

The community participated actively in all aspects of this search and all perspectives were assessed carefully. I remind you that this was a process that weighed very carefully the numerous qualifications and expectations for the new president and was not a popular election. I request that those of you who disagree with the decision recognize that the Board has the ultimate authority to appoint the president. Having overseen a fair, open, transparent and just process the Board cannot and will not reverse ourselves in the face of a protest that we do not consider to be justified.


Celia May Baldwin, Interim Chair
Board of Trustees

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


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