Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz today announced on September 19, 2011, that Dr. Catherine O’Brien has been named the I. King Jordan Chair in Leadership Fellow for the 2011-2012 academic year.

The privately funded chair, named for Gallaudet President Emeritus I. King Jordan, was created by the university to provide opportunities for scholars, educators and successful leaders to create and share new knowledge on topics critical to the next generation of people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

O’Brien, a recent Ph. D. graduate at the University of Missouri, has conducted research on effective leadership within residential schools for deaf children. Specifically, her work studies how deaf culture and the use of American Sign Language influence the leadership and overall culture of residential schools.

“We are delighted to have Dr. O’Brien on campus where she will expand her examination of residential schools and the academic and social benefits deaf students obtain when they are immersed in an environment rich in deaf culture and ASL,” said Hurwitz. “This is exactly the kind of critical research for which the I. King Jordan Chair was created.”

O’Brien’s resume, prior to her doctoral studies, includes 14 years as a high school teacher, assistant principal and coach. In 2004 she was named Teacher of the Year by both the St. Louis Public School System and the St. Louis Rams Association. She also excelled as a coach leading her teams to star in eight consecutive state championship games.

“I am honored to have been selected as the Jordan Chair Fellow,” O’Brien said. “I look forward to spending this year gaining a deeper understanding of how deaf culture influences the pedagogy, school culture and leadership of deaf residential schools — and sharing my findings with the Gallaudet Community.”

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English.

Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.

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