So who will it be, friends and neighbors? Here's some first impressions after my first reading of their biographies and letters.
William Marshall, a dedicated leader of the Gallaudet University faculty, who has led the University Faculty Senate (the one whose votes of no confidence so harmed the Jordan/Fernandes position) for the last several years? His publications focus on adademic discipline, how to make a University run efficiently, dealing with politics and power structures. He would seem to be the "healing" option - the man who by familiarity with the community and academic world might be able to lead the Gallaudet community to understanding and healing from the political and social uproar of the past year. His plan includes structure for whoever takes over the Presidential position to ease into their role. He interestingly seems to have stopped publishing in 99 and not again until 2006 - wasn't this the time period Jane Fernandes was Dean of the University? It's probably meaningless coincidence... all in all he seems capable, slightly conservative, highly efficient. His ASL skills have come under attack (see for yourself) but I think this is possibly unfair-Marshall is hardly claiming to be a beautiful signer, unlike Jane Fernandes who Jordan called "fluent." And as Erfo says:
"Marshall doesn't sign too badly. He's got personality... and he obviously has a lot of Old Deaf running through him. I covered his face for part of the presentation; I'd say 70% legible... when any fluent signer gets on the stage at Gally legibility drops to abt 40%-60%."The worst people say of him that I've been able to see is that he is stiff and inflexible - but maybe Gallaudet needs the comfort of routine and a strong direction.
Robert Davila, a man who seems to play the center politically and has a fantastic fundraising track record, a respected academic leader of various institutions, a familiar face with Congress, a highly impressive resume... and extremely well known at Gallaudet (take this test!) He's the first Deaf and Hispanic man to receive a PhD in the United States, a feat which I applaud (and which my father would also; as an immigrant my father wasn't able to take advantage of education in America much.) Davila would seem to be the power option - the man who might be able to reconcile Gallaudet to the world and prepare for what, until a Democratic American majority took hold of the House and balanced the Senate, were hints and rumors of potential government cuts - such as those which rocked the world of Deaf Theatre. Perhaps his leadership qualities, diplomacy, political connections are the more important considerations.
Stephen Weiner was a guidance counselor at MSSD and a former New Yorker as well as a Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor in various other depts. Despite this, I don't know him very well - I was still revelling in being at a Deaf school for the first time in my life and annoying everyone with silly questions. At first glance, his resume doesn't appear as extensive as the other two candidates. Looking at it more closely helps you realize the structure is completely different. His research and publications are on Deaf clubs, Deaf people, Deaf society. I wonder if Weiner is meant to be the "community option" - the man who might reconcile Gallaudet to the extensive community (and its supporters) which turned out in the thousands to show support for their University during the protest. His having administrative experience is also as a member of Boards of various Deaf schools (including Lexington, which he himself attended), a doctorate in Education, and strong ties to the Deaf community. A review of his resume shows presentations nationally and internationally on a huge variety of subjects. His obvious commitment to his community might be what Gallaudet needs for the interim while the best Presidential candidate is sought.
Three very interesting people, who are also sort of refreshingly transparent. MishkaZena and Ridor also have their analysis (Ridor follows it up with a retraction.)
Why is this important? While the position will be short-lived, the Gallaudet community is hurting now - and needs treatment, counselling, the works. While the community is lying injured on the ground, people are hardening opinions about what happened. We need a voice to bring the community back together, prevent hemorrhaging of donations, maintain our political support, and keep the community on the path towards dealing with audism, both internal and external - and get the Gallaudet community ready for a new President and hopefully an upward climb. And as goes Gallaudet, so goes acceptance and opportunity for Deaf people around the nation. Sometimes we forget that without such a center of learning for Deaf people, we wouldn't have the exposure/visibility we do now. Regardless - they'll be announcing the leader soon.