Generations of Gallaudet business majors owe a large measure of their success to the late Alan B. Crammatte-known to the University community as “ABC.” This highly respected educator founded the University’s Department of Business in 1955, and his commitment to high academic standards and instilling the value of hard work in his students made him a campus legend. Dr. Crammatte’s legacy will live on for future generations of Gallaudet entrepreneurs as well, thanks to the knowledge and skills they will acquire in the newly refurbished Business Computer Lab Suites that bear his name.

The lab suites, which feature 38 new computers along with new computer desks and chairs, two printers, new carpeting, fresh paint, and a new entrance, were dedicated to Crammatte at a January 24 ribbon cutting ceremony. Fittingly, the ceremony took place in the lobby of the Business Department, where a large portrait of Crammatte has looked over students and faculty for the past 12 years. Crammatte’s influence over the Department of Business has proven to be so strong that some people at the event who knew him well remarked that they still feel the spirit of his presence whenever they walk Ely Center’s second floor hallways.

A 1932 graduate of Gallaudet, Crammatte returned to his alma mater in 1955 to found the Department of Business Administration, and for the first year he was its sole professor. He helped steadily build the business program during his 22 years with the department. By 1999, the results of his efforts were fully realized–the Business Department held the status of having the highest number of majors of any undergraduate department on campus.

The homage to Crammatte included remarks by his former colleagues, including Dr. Ronald Sutcliffe, who in 1959 became one of the first graduates of the business program and went on to become a faculty member in the department and dean of the former School of Management; Crammatte’s daughters, Cindy Shupe, Class of 1980, and Edith Kroner; Provost Stephen Weiner; and current Department of Business Chair Emilia Chukwuma.

Graduate School and Professional Programs Dean Carol Erting talked about Crammatte’s devotion to raising the quality of life for all deaf people. She said she came upon a copy of testimony on behalf of deaf people in the United States that he gave before the U.S. Commission on Labor in 1944 while he was a statistician in the Census Bureau. His lengthy remarks focused on the needs for improved education, career training, and work opportunities for skilled employment for the deaf community. Later, when he returned to his alma mater as founder of the new business program, Crammatte did his part to see some of those needs realized by encouraging deaf people to seek employment in the business sector as accountants, financial consultants, auditors, and entrepreneurs.

Crammatte showed his love for his alma mater in numerous ways over the years. He served as comptroller of the Gallaudet University Alumni Association’s Centennial Fund in the early 1960s and helped establish three endowments: the Graduate Fellowship Fund, the Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund, and the Alumni House Fund. He also served two terms on the GUAA Board of Directors. In addition, Crammatte and his late wife, Florence, co-chaired a fund to renovate Peikoff Alumni House. Numerous awards and honors were bestowed on Crammatte, as well. Gallaudet presented him an honorary doctor of letters in 1977, the 1963 Tower Clock yearbook was dedicated to him, and he held the Powrie Vaux Doctor Chair of Deaf Studies during the 1982-83 academic year.

Dr. Stephen Chough told a moving story of how Crammatte lead a grassroots fundraising efforts that allowed him to enroll in the social work graduate program at the University of Denver, Colo. Chough said the opportunity arose after he had been turned down by all 15 graduate schools he had applied to following his graduation from Gallaudet in 1961, all because he is deaf–an injustice that enraged Crammatte. After much perseverance, Chough was accepted to the University of Denver as a provisional student, but he lacked the funds to enroll. Thanks to Crammatte, however, he was able to get his start, and went on to earn a full scholarship, graduate, and embark on what proved to be a long and distinguished career at Gallaudet. “I see (Crammatte) as a very strong mentor, one of the best I ever had,” said Chough. He added that in naming his son and his daughter, he made sure both had the initials ABC as a lifelong tribute to this extraordinary man.

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