The Gallaudet University Board of Trustees (Board) has received concerns in response to the June 10, 2021 announcement of organizational changes in alignment with The Gallaudet Promise. These changes impacted our employees, including three Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) individuals.

I would like to preface this message by sharing that the Board of Trustees is responsible for broad oversight of the University, but is not involved with day-to-day operational decisions, including those related to employment. The Board does, however, support the recent restructuring of Academic Affairs, the Division of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (DEDI), and Student Affairs to support systems change, student experience, and success.

The Board recognizes that, to meet our students’ changing needs, the University must also change. DEDI is being transformed into a division that provides guidance and subject matter expertise on diversity and anti-racism initiatives to the University as a whole. As a result, certain services that DEDI provided were evaluated and determined to be most effective when redesigned and housed within other divisions, notably Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. Multiple new positions have been posted, and more will be posted in the coming weeks. The impacted individuals are welcome to apply for any positions that interest them.

DEDI will collaborate with these two divisions to ensure that their provision of services is culturally competent. The net result of these shifts is that DEDI will be able to deeply hone in on its mission to lead the University’s diversity and anti-racism work.

The Board is pleased to note that the University has made considerable progress in its hiring of BIPOC individuals. Over the past two years, the percentage of new hires that were BIPOC individuals increased from 43% to 49%, and the percentage of promotions of BIPOC individuals increased from 35% to 59%. In addition, the executive leadership team has changed from one that was hearing-led with no BIPOC members just before President Cordano’s arrival to one that is predominantly Deaf-led with three BIPOC members today. The Board will continue to closely monitor progress in BIPOC hiring and representation, as this is a key priority for us, as well as for the University as a whole.

The University’s anti-racism plan, and our progress in meeting its goals, may be viewed on the Equity and Belonging webpage. The Board is pleased with the steps made by the University to date, while much work remains to be done. Progress, as evidenced in the report, is the best indicator of lasting change.

The University takes claims of discrimination and harassment very seriously as it works to uphold its anti-racism statement and belonging and equity imperatives. With systems and processes in place to report discrimination, harassment and other employment issues, employees and other members of the Gallaudet community are encouraged to contact one of the following confidential and objective channels:

  • Human Resources: The Employee Relations office offers confidential consulting to employees on all employment-related issues.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity: Gallaudet’s anti-racism policy contains the complaint procedure, which is managed by the EEO office.
  • Ombuds: The Office of the Ombuds offers conflict resolution and management services in a confidential and impartial setting.
  • Whistleblower Hotline: This hotline is managed by an outside third party. Issues can be reported by computer or telephone 24/7 with anonymity and confidentiality.

The University continues to prioritize its anti-racism plan, which includes equity and belonging imperatives focused on increasing BIPOC representation among faculty, staff, and the student body. All of the imperatives align with the desires expressed by the community to better the campus experience for BIPOC individuals.

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