Interview with Stephen Weiner, Roz Rosen, and Alan Hurwitz
Amy: Here we are to interview three people, top-level administrators running a university. Please explain your roles in your university, what do you do?
Roz: I work at CSUN, California State University at Northridge, which is three thousand miles away from Gallaudet and NTID. I am a director of a program called the National Center on Deafness.
Stephen: I am Stephen Weiner, provost of Gallaudet University. The Provost is the chief academic officer. There are two major groups under my supervision: Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. [Note: Dr. Weiner is also responsible for the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.]
Alan: Hello, I’m Alan Hurwitz. I’m President of the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID), as well as Vice President and Dean of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for NTID. NTID is one of the eight colleges at RIT. We have about 1,400 students enrolled in all colleges at RIT.
Amy: Do you think enrollment in the next five years will face challenges?
Alan: [RIT has a total of 16,000 students.] Right now our enrollment is about 1,400, and that includes about 175 hearing students who study to become interpreters or future teachers of the deaf. Enrollment is always a challenge for us because we find that now colleges and universities all over the country are providing services (for deaf and hard of hearing students) so what that means to us and to our colleges is that we attempt to show that RIT/NTID is the university of choice. Deaf and hard of hearing students can go anywhere else they want, but here at RIT/NTID they can get a top-notch, high-quality education and, at the same time, they can also have a meaningful college life experience.
Stephen: Here at Gallaudet we have about 1,500 students: 1,000 undergraduates and 500 students in graduate school, and others in professional training programs. We provide a wide range of educational experiences, not only at the college level but also but we have Kendall Demonstration Elementary School and the Model Secondary School for the Deaf. We have early child education to high school and beyond. Here at Gallaudet since the 1860s we have provided top quality education for deaf and hard of hearing people all over the world and we were just reaffirmed by the Middle State Council on Higher Education recognizing our new cutting-edge curriculum general study program for admitted students so our graduate programs are accredited. And for those who come to Gallaudet, we also have over 100 hearing undergraduate students in variety of programs and in our graduate programs, approximately half of the students are hearing. Our students get the totality of the college experience, not only through classes but also in activities like Buff and Blue, TC, and athletic programs. We are finding more and more challenges in recruiting students but that’s okay, we welcome the competition. It can only help us get better from hereon. I aspire to increase the numbers of student enrollment with new innovative programs that are now coming up on the horizon.
Roz: At CSUN, we have 35,000 students in one college, on one college campus As for people who sign, we have about 1,000 sign language users. We have about 200 deaf students, and we have a lot of other students who sign because they have a goal of becoming an interpreter, or a teacher, or an advocate/social worker. We have nine different schools on campus and many majors in, I think, 65 different fields, and graduate schools. And now we are starting Ed.D., this is a doctorate program in educational leadership. CSUN was founded 50 years ago so this year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary in life changing opportunities.
Amy: I have a question for Dr. Weiner. One year ago, on your first day of the job, Gallaudet was on probation. One year later, about four days ago, Gallaudet was accredited.
Stephen: Well, yes, last year when I started my job on July 1st, , we got word on that day that we were placed on probation. As you said, it was four days before the one-year anniversary mark when we got re-accredited. I was thrilled. Really, I’m thrilled because of the Gallaudet community. It was a privilege to work with them. They really helped get together to make it happen: all their sacrifices and hard work. I feel very privileged and proud to be a part of that group of effort. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Amy: A question for Dr. Hurwitz. Congratulations on NTID’s 40th anniversary! And just last week, there was a large NTID alumni reunion. Amazing. Can you explain more on the recent development of renaming this building?
Alan: Yes, we had a wonderful reunion last week. Over 700 people came.Initially, I thought the turnout would be small because of the economy and the rising gas prices, but we had a great turnout. It was wonderful to see all of the alumni coming back and sharing their stories. What was amazing to me was that many of them have become grandparents; many of them have children who also came to the reunion with them. It was just wonderful to see everyone.
Alan: Yes, we have had issues around the name of this dormitory building, which was named in honor of Alexander Graham Bell. There was a lot of controversy that started about 10 years ago by some of our students who raised questions about the wording on the plaque that was on the wall of the building. They felt that it didn’t match with RIT’s philosophy on diversity, honor code, support for unity, community building, respect for individuals, etc. There were a lot of discussions; it is a lot easier nowadays because of technology (blogs and vlogs) throughout the country. It was an opportunity for us to have an open dialogue with the community. We brought people together to talk with each other. Tthere were some who were strongly in favor of leaving the name; some people wanted it removed; and some felt that it didn’t matter whether it was left or removed. It was wonderful to talk it out. Over time we felt that the mood had begun to shift. Those that felt it didn’t matter whether it was left or removed remarked that the controversy was affecting their work, and that this issue was dividing the community.
Last week at the reunion, we had additional dialogue with the alumni, getting their input and feedback. We made sure to get it from everyone — staff, faculty, students, alumni, and members of our national advisory group. Finally, I made an announcement last week that I would make a proposal to the president of RIT to remove the name. From that point, the RIT president will then bring it up to the board of trustees, I believe, later this week in California. I believe this situation has helped us build up our community by bringing people together to share values and vision for the future, and still respect people who had different opinions. We plan to create a new plaque or some form of media with different wording that shows respect for diversity and for individual differences.
Amy: Dr. Rosen, how do you bring your university, CSUN, to a high profile in the deaf community?
Roz: It depends on who you’re talking to, Amy. (laughter) Older people know CSUN well because of its famous Leadership Training Program (LTP) which started in the 60s. It was the best. A lot of people, who graduated from that program in one year with their Master’s degree in Leadership, spread out like Johnny Appleseed, planting seeds in schools all over the country. They became school principals, school presidents, leaders, community service providers. CSUN is famous for the LTP. The Leadership Training Program was closed down in 1990 due to the lack of federal funding. We are now working to bring back the LTP Master’s program. Or now that we have set up Ed.D., we might go for that and have the Ed.D. program in educational policy and leadership. Through that department, we will work with the Deaf Studies chair, Larry Fleischer (funny, we both graduated from Gallaudet!). Anyway, we really want to establish this program again. But we also have many other good things happening at CSUN for our students. Like, we had the gala with students doing that. We just completed strategic planning and that plan calls for this and that, and the bottom line is, as the president of our university says: “The goal for all of us is excellence at CSUN.” Focus on the students and the region, and national recognition will occur. So this will help us focus on the students and educational quality access quality, and their success related to jobs.
Amy: What do you three have in common?
All three: (discussing we are deaf and drinking coffee.)
Roz: All three of us have deaf families.
Stephen: We started out in oral programs back when we were young.
Alan: Our families had high value on education and encouraged us to be successful.
Roz: We were the first in our family to attend college?
Stephen: Yes, yes.
Roz: We were what we call, in today’s terms, “at-risk” students. We were the first to represent that group.
Alan: Yes, and we were first generation college students.
Stephen: And I think all of us started studying for our doctorate degree after we started our own families, and after working.
Roz: We wear many hats. We’re skilled at juggling our hats.
Alan: That is multi-tasking. I remember going to graduate school while having a family, worked full time, and being president of NAD same time. I think all this helped us to learn how to manage those things.
Roz: We [Alan and I] were involved with the NAD as past presidents, and you [Stephen] were involved with YLC; we were too old for that.
Alan: Way past our time!
Stephen: In fact, YLC was established almost 40 years ago, and I was one of the first campers there.
Alan: My daughter went to YLC.
Roz: Same here, my daughter went to YLC.
Alan: We’re continuing the tradition.
Stephen: I think there’s also one more thing we all have in common…we are grandchildren of immigrants.
Alan: We also have other deaf and hard of hearing people in our families?
Stephen: Yes, I do.
Roz: I’m not sure about older generations in my family other than my family and a brother. I don’t know if there were any other deaf monkeys in my family tree.
Stephen: I have a deaf brother; you [Roz] have a deaf brother—Alan, what about you?
Alan: Nope, I’m the only child— the oldest and the baby, but not spoiled!
Amy: Tonight’s College Bowl… what do you think will happen?
Stephen: Well, Gallaudet’s won the last two competitions, and the fact we enjoy having that status, you [Alan] offered a bet… and I would be happy to take you up on that. Gallaudet will win!
Alan: That might be your guess, but I think the best team will win.
Roz: You know that CSUN won the first ever college bowl competition in ‘88?
Alan: Yes, and I’m waiting for the next win by CSUN.
Roz: Now, 20 years later, we’re hoping it’ll be like the Celtics basketball team. We’re going to win this time.
Stephen: (Thumbs Up).
Alan: Okay, of course, I want my team to win… but if not, CSUN, try to win?!
Roz: May the best team win. (All laughing)