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Dr. Robert Panara Selected for Postage Stamp

Esteemed Gallaudet alumnus, the late Dr. Robert Panara, ’45 -’85, was selected by the United States Postal Service to be featured on a Forever Stamp this year. Panara’s is the 16th stamp in the “Distinguished Americans” series, and he is honored as an influential teacher and pioneer in the field of deaf studies.

The stamp features a 2009 photograph of Panara, shown signing the word “respect,” in American Sign Language (ASL).
Gallaudet hosted a ceremony in its “Gallaudet at 150 and Beyond” museum in Chapel Hall to celebrate the honor in conjunction with the United States Postal Service (USPS) on April 18, 2017. Don Padden, ’45, Meredith Peruzzi, ’11, museum specialist, and Dr. Dirksen Bauman, ASL and Deaf Studies professor and department chair, all gave remarks during the ceremony.

Peruzzi emceed the event and recognized Panara as being an important role model for the entire deaf community.

“As an alumnus and professor, his influence on hundreds of students and our ongoing educational mission cannot be understated,” said Peruzzi.
During his 40-year teaching career, Panara inspired generations of students with his powerful use of ASL. Panara taught at Gallaudet for nearly 20 years, as well as at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). At NTID, he established the school’s English department and founded the school’s drama club.

Outside of Gallaudet and NTID, Panara helped increase the visibility and popularity of ASL by co-founding the National Theater of the Deaf in the 1960s and teaching drama workshops.

Gallaudet awarded Panara with an honorary doctorate in 1985 for his contributions to the University as well as to the deaf community.
Bauman described the stamp as being a fitting emblem of Panara’s influence on the field of ASL literature and theater.

“Panara left his stamp on these fields through his imaginative and creative output, exploring the relations of ASL and English, resulting in his raising the status of ASL as a medium of poetry and literary expression,” said Bauman.
Panara’s stamps can be purchased through USPS here. You can watch a YouTube video of the event here.

Photo by Danielle Seiss.

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