Dear Campus Community

I am pleased to announce that Gallaudet University has selected a new Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (VPEDI), also known as the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).

After thoughtful consideration, which included a great deal of feedback from the campus community, Dr. Elavie Ndura has been picked as our new CDO. She will begin on Monday, July 10.

As a community, we have much to learn from Dr. Ndura. She values and has deep experience with community-building, peace-making, including restorative justice, and bilingual and multicultural education. Dr. Ndura has demonstrated experience both as an academic and practitioner, which is of value to us as an academic institution and a world-wide community leader.

Dr. Ndura comes to Gallaudet from George Mason University (GMU) where she was a tenured, full professor in the Division of Advanced Professional Teacher Development and International Education. She holds a Ph.D. in education, curriculum and instruction, bilingual and multicultural education from Northern Arizona University, and a graduate certificate in conflict resolution from GMU.
Dr. Ndura has published numerous peer-reviewed books and articles, has many years of teaching experience in K-12 and university classrooms, and is fluent in English, French, Swahili, and Kirundi, her native language.

Among her many awards, Dr. Ndura was named Peace Educator of the Year by the Peace and Justice Studies Association in 2011 and was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2010-2011. In 2015-2016, Dr. Ndura was a presidential fellow at GMU and led the implementation of the university’s diversity and inclusion strategic goals, and facilitated intercultural conversations.

Recognizing the complexity of the leadership role of the CDO at Gallaudet, she and I have agreed upon the following:

  • She will build a team around her, the first two of which must be fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and be deaf, to assure a language immersion experience in her immediate office setting. Two positions will be posted by September 2017. We actively encourage deaf people of color and those from other underrepresented groups to apply.
  • She will work with the Diversity Strategy Team this fall to partner with them and build on the work they have started this past year and a half to help us design our strategic approach to equity and diversity and full civic engagement in our Gallaudet community.
  • The Office of the President and the Office of the Provost will work together to develop an onboarding plan for her that includes meeting key stakeholders, such as administrators, students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and community members. Also, we will work with her to give her experiences that will deepen her understanding of the deaf community, Gallaudet University, and enhance her fluency in ASL as thoroughly as possible.

Being a bilingual and multicultural university is what makes Gallaudet so unique. We will expand our expertise as a university community through the building of skills and experiences that enhance our excellence. We all recognize the complex skillset associated with this unique and important position. Let us bring our best knowledge and experience to bear in welcoming our new CDO.
As our motto says, “there’s no other place like this in the world.” Let’s stand together in welcoming Dr. Ndura to her role.

We will continue to engage with you after this announcement to understand ways to strengthen the leadership, development, and growth of people committed to visual language and visual learning from multiple identities and communities.
Finally, I would like to share my deep appreciation to the search committee, as well as students, faculty, and staff from Gallaudet and the Clerc Center. The community feedback, which was balanced and nuanced, was essential and influenced my final decision.

As I close, I would like to share a personal message from Dr. Ndura:
“I am deeply honored to join the Gallaudet community and lead equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts at such a unique institution of higher education steeped in rich history and charged with a transformational mandate that defies geographic and societal boundaries.

As an ally of the Deaf community, a willing newcomer into Deaf Culture, and a social justice advocate, practitioner, and scholar, I welcome this consequential responsibility with time-tested understanding that advancing institutional equity, diversity, and inclusion is a people-to-people community undertaking. We must, therefore, broaden transdisciplinary collaboration and community partnerships across diversity, to position Gallaudet University to lead the search for solutions to enduring problems locally, nationally, and globally.

Hence, at the core of my vision and leadership will be an unwavering commitment to nurturing a positive and collaborative community that affirms diversity, enhances the well-being and self-actualization of all members, and engages in sustained and transformational courageous conversations around climate, equity, and diversity issues. In essence, my focus will be on helping to establish a culture that affirms shared responsibilities, human interdependence, and unity in diversity.

I look forward to working with Gallaudet and Clerc Center leadership, students, faculty, staff, alumni, stakeholders, and community partners to broaden diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and programs to encompass critical core areas such as recruitment and retention, campus climate, curriculum and instruction, research and inquiry, intergroup relations and discourse, multicultural leadership development, student/faculty/staff achievement and success, institutional advancement, external relations, and strategic planning and accountability.” – Dr. Elavie Ndura


Roberta J. Cordano


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