The American Sign Language (ASL) video and the English text on this page are the same message offered bilingually.


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.

Approved by the Board of Trustees November 2007

Vision Statement

Gallaudet University will build upon its rich history as the world’s premier higher education institution serving deaf and hard of hearing people to become the university of first choice for the most qualified, diverse group of deaf and hard of hearing students in the world, as well as hearing students pursuing careers related to deaf and hard of hearing people. Gallaudet will empower its graduates with the knowledge and practical skills vital to achieving personal and professional success in the changing local and global communities in which they live and work. Gallaudet will also strive to become the leading international resource for research, innovation and outreach related to deaf and hard of hearing people.

Gallaudet will achieve these outcomes through:

  • A bilingual learning environment, featuring American Sign Language and English, that provides full access for all students to learning and communication
  • A commitment to excellence in learning and student service
  • A world-class campus in the nation’s capital
  • Creation of a virtual campus that expands Gallaudet’s reach to a broader audience of visual learners
  • An environment in which research can grow, develop, and improve the lives and knowledge of all deaf and hard of hearing people worldwide. 

Approved by the Board of Trustees, May 2009

The Gallaudet Credo

Gallaudet’s Vision Statement expresses what the University aspires to become and achieve as the world’s premier academic institution for deaf and hard of hearing people. Implicit in our vision are core values that serve as guiding principles for the way members of the campus community teach, study, work and live. The Gallaudet Credo identifies and realizes those core values.

The Gallaudet University campus community includes students, faculty, teachers, and staff, all whom share certain common goals and values that we all believe enrich our academic environment. The community’s primary goal is to prepare students to be informed, literate, productive and responsible citizens. In pursuit of this goal, community members pledge to uphold the following values:

  • We believe that education is a dominant influence on our lives and recognize that learning is a lifelong quest. Therefore, we will practice academic and personal integrity and work to create a positive and welcoming environment that is open to the free exchange of ideas among members of our community.
  • We believe that every person should be treated with civility and that our community is strengthened by the broad diversity of its members. Therefore, we will promote and applaud behaviors that support the dignity of individuals and groups and are respectful of others’ opinions. We will especially discourage behaviors and attitudes that disrespect the diversity of individuals and groups for any reason including religion, race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, hearing status, or language and communication preference. 
  • We believe that as members of the Gallaudet community we are the recipients of a proud and rich heritage, as well as contributors to and benefactors of our institution’s bright future. Therefore, we will strive to bring credit to our community and ensure that the institution flourishes and succeeds in its mission.

Institutional Profile

Gallaudet University is a federally-chartered university that was authorized to confer college degrees by an act of Congress in 1864. The charter established the National College for the Deaf and Dumb and was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln as the first school for the advanced education of deaf and hard of hearing students in the world. Edward Miner Gallaudet was made president of the college, which had eight students enrolled the first year. He presided over the first commencement in June 1869 when three young men received diplomas. Their diplomas were signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, and to this day the diplomas of all Gallaudet University graduates are signed by the presiding U.S. president. In 1894, the university changed its name to Gallaudet College in honor of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, Edward Miner’s father, who co-founded the American School for the Deaf, the first permanent residential school for the deaf in North America in 1817.

By an act of the U.S. Congress, Gallaudet was granted university status in October 1986. Two years later, in March 1988, the Deaf President Now (DPN) movement led to the appointment of the university’s first deaf president, Dr. I. King Jordan, and the Board of Trustees’ first deaf chair, Philip Bravin. Since then, DPN has become synonymous with self-determination and empowerment for deaf and hard of hearing people everywhere. Gallaudet is the world’s only liberal arts institution for deaf students and a place where Deaf people are seen as members of a cultural and linguistic minority. Gallaudet University is viewed by deaf and hearing people alike as a primary resource for all things related to deaf people, including educational and career opportunities, open communication and visual learning, deaf history and culture, American Sign Language, research, the impact of technology on the deaf community, and more.

In 2007, based on feedback from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the university updated its mission by incorporating the university’s bilingual values for American Sign Language and English. It was not until 2017 that the university, under the leadership of President Roberta J. Cordano, began to develop an operational definition for American Sign Language and English bilingualism. Since the last Self-Study there has been a focus on clarifying, understanding, and implementing the mission across all parts of the university. President Cordano established the Bilingual Mission Framework Task Force, led by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis (the current interim Provost) and Dr. Kristin Mulrooney (former Director of the Center for Bilingual Teaching and Learning, and currently the Senior Project Manager in the Office of the President), which resulted in a more intentional implementation of the mission in all areas of the university. The taskforce also brought into focus the increased diversity and intersectionality of the deaf community. The taskforce quickly affirmed that there are “many ways to be deaf.” This diversity can be seen in the increasing number of BIPOC students, faculty, and staff on campus. An additional result of the taskforce was the creation of the Chief Bilingual Officer (CBO) position. The purpose of the CBO is to expand the focus of the bilingual mission beyond academics to the entire university and its stakeholders. Since the hiring of the first CBO, there has been a significant increase in the production of bilingual messaging in all forms of communication (e.g., Gallaudet University’s website and emails, among others), a focus on increasing the visual centric architecture and design of new and renovated space, increased support provided to faculty and staff in carrying out the bilingual mission, and well attended lecture series covering a wide range of topics such as “Is ASL Too White?” and “Is ASL Visual Only?”. 

Gallaudet University offers exemplary educational programs to deaf and hard of hearing students at all learning levels. The Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) serves infants and their parents through the eighth grade. The Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) offers programs for students in grades nine through 12. Both of these schools are part of the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center. Its federal mandate is to develop and disseminate innovative curriculum, materials, and teaching strategies to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing students from birth to age 21 in schools and programs nationwide. 

Student Profile 

From the Fall 2020 enrollment census:

  • 1,775 students were enrolled at Gallaudet University. 
  • 57% (1,019) were undergraduates, 24% (432) were graduate students, less than 1% (18) were in the English Language Institute and 17% (306) were enrolled in professional studies. 
  • 65% (1,161) of Gallaudet’s students are full-time and 15% are part-time (266). 
  • 80% (1,427) of all Gallaudet students were degree-seeking and less than 1% (24) were non-degree seeking. 
  • Of the degree-seeking students, 40% (577) were from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. 47% (682) were white and less than 5% (76) were international students. 
  • 77% of all degree-seeking students were deaf or hard-of-hearing (1,107: 894 undergraduates and 213 graduates), while 22% (314: 110 undergraduates and 204 graduates) were hearing students. 
  • 74% of undergraduates persisted into their second year. 
  • Gallaudet’s six-year graduation rate was 43% for all undergraduates who entered in Fall 2015. 
  • 64% of the graduating bachelor’s degree students who responded to the most recent Annual Alumni Survey reported they were working either full-time or part-time, and 33% reported they were pursuing additional education. 
  • Gallaudet offers over 40 undergraduate majors with the most popular majors being Communications, Physical Education and Recreation, Social Work, and Psychology.
  • Gallaudet offers over 20 graduate programs with the most popular programs being Sign Language Education, Public Administration, Social Work, and Audiology

Eighty percent (48 out of 60) of the university’s academic programs require internships as a graduation requirement. Through the efforts of internship coordinators in academic programs and the University Career Center, students receive internships that provide a wealth of experiential learning opportunities. Recent internships were offered at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, PNS Financial Services Group, Proctor and Gamble, Special Olympics, The Hartford Financial Services Group, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Library of Congress, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, United Nations, and the U.S. Senate in addition to many placements at schools, interpreting agencies, and social service agencies, to list a few. Students’ internship experiences are collected in a post-internship survey from each program through the Career Center. Broader institutional level data on student internship engagement is collected through the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Information collected from our Alumni Survey sent one year, five years, and ten years post-graduation indicate significant value and benefit from the internship experience. 

Students also benefit from an array of services provided by campus units such as the Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Student Success, Education Abroad housed in the Office of International Affairs, and the Center for Democracy in Deaf America, among many others.

Overview of Changes since the 2011-2012 Self-Study: 

This section provides an overview of Gallaudet University’s administrative leadership and governance structures.

Board of Trustees

Some changes to the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees have occurred since the last Self-Study. The Board of Trustees also worked to update its Bylaws which had been last revised in 2011. There is now a greater emphasis on equity, innovation, and ASL-English bilingualism. The Board of Trustees previously had approximately eight standing committees (including two ad hoc committees – Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Faculty, Administration, and Board) with 18 working Trustees. The Board of Trustees restructured by reducing the number of standing committees from eight to six. The previous composition paralleled President T. Alan Hurwitz’s Cabinet in the sense that each committee had a “sponsor” from his cabinet. In 2014, the Board of Trustees repeatedly expressed a desire to have more generative thinking and dialogue. When President Cordano arrived in 2016, she restructured the Cabinet into an Executive Team and added the Chief Bilingual Officer to the team The current Board of Trustees, with its six committees, engages with several Executive Team members. Additionally, the Gallaudet Real Estate Foundation was suspended, and replaced with the Real Estate and Capital Planning Subcommittee under the auspices of the Strategic Finance Committee. 

University President and Administrative Leadership

President T. Alan Hurwitz retired in December 2015 and President Cordano took office in January 2016. Since that time, President Cordano has implemented several key changes to the leadership of Gallaudet University. One such change was distributing responsibilities formerly held by the Vice President for Administration and Finance by restructuring the division. This restructuring resulted in the creation of separate Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer roles, and the creation of an internal Office of General Counsel. Incumbents in these new roles have led the implementation of several initiatives including the restructuring of Human Resources, reconfiguration of Student Financial Services, centralizing some of the services offered by the Financial Aid Office (FAO) and Student Financial Services, as well as the implementation of new policies and processes for business and compliance practices. When President Cordano arrived in January 2016, her Executive Team was predominately white, hearing and male with the exception of the then-Provost. The majority of the current Executive Team is now deaf, female, and more diverse in terms of ethnicity and LGBTQ. 

Academic Leadership

Dr. Stephen Weiner, who was the Provost during the last Self-Study, stepped down as Provost in 2014. Dr. Carol Erting was then appointed as Provost by President Hurwitz in 2014; she subsequently stepped down in 2020. Dr. Jeffrey Lewis is the current interim Provost and will support this Self-Study process until his permanent replacement is appointed by President Cordano. 

During the previous Self-Study, the Associate Provost for Planning, Academic Quality and Institutional Research, Dr. Patricia Hulsebosch, oversaw the strategic plan, accreditation and assessment efforts as well as Institutional Research. In 2015, the office was restructured into the Office of Student Success and Academic Quality (SSAQ), and the Strategic Planning office then moved under the president. The restructure resulted in a title change for the Associate Provost position to Associate Provost, Student Success and Academic Quality, in order to emphasize supporting student success and academic quality. Dr. Thomas P. Horejes was appointed in June 2017 to lead this unit. SSAQ centralized many of the student support services under one unit, including the Office of Student Success, Financial Aid, Registrar, Tutoring, Office of Students with Disabilities, Academic Advising, Career Center, Institutional Effectiveness and Institutional Research. 

The Director of General Studies and the Director of Institutional Research implemented an academic program review/self-study of the General Studies Requirements in 2018. The self-study and eventual implementation of the recommendations has resulted in the recently proposed General Education requirements, which was recently approved by the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees at their May meeting in 2021. The new General Education requirements will result in the addition of three Institutional Learning outcomes which further emphasize career readiness, digital awareness and global citizenship. The 2007 Institutional Learning Outcomes were also revised to provide clarity and measurable sub-skills for each of the core learning outcomes. Implementation of the new General Education first year requirements will begin in Fall 2021 with a restructured “Freshman Foundation” program. This program includes a two semester First Year Experience seminar, as well as American Sign Language, English, and Math core coursework.

In 2011, the university implemented an academic program restructure under the Program Prioritization Task Force (PPTF). The taskforce reorganized 40 academic programs to 16 departments. 

In 2020 the university restructured the academic administration division. Previously there were two colleges – the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the School of Business, Education, and Human Services (SEBHS). In May 2020, the colleges were combined into one unit with five schools. The basis for this restructure was to create student cohorts and learning communities to engage students earlier and more often, and to make them feel welcome and included. This change reduced the number of deans from two to one. Dr. Khadijat Rashid is the Interim Dean of the Faculty and is responsible for all five schools.

The Schools are organized according to disciplines with similar interests or goals. They are:

  1. School of Human Services and Sciences
  2. School of Language, Education, and Culture
  3. School of Arts and Humanities
  4. Science, Technology, Accessibility, Mathematics, and Public Health
  5. School of Civic Leadership, Business, and Social Change. 

The development of these Schools was a model of shared governance and was a collaboration between the faculty and administration. This two-year process included frequent town hall meetings conducted throughout the academic year, and presentations by representatives from two other institutions of higher education with successful restructuring processes. 

A small number of hearing undergraduate students (up to five percent of an entering class) are also admitted to the university each year. Graduate programs at Gallaudet are open to deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students. Certificates and Master of Arts, Master of Science, doctoral, and specialist degrees are offered in a variety of fields involving professional service to deaf and hard of hearing people.

Faculty Leadership

Gallaudet University faculty participate in university governance in several ways. The Faculty Senate, run by members of the faculty, is an organization that works for the faculty by ensuring their needs and wants are communicated clearly and represented accurately. The Faculty Senate acts as a coordinating body between the administration, staff, and student body, ensuring fair and consistent treatment of all faculty. Faculty are represented on several committees, including the Board of Trustees. The Chair of the Faculty Senate is also the Chair of the University Faculty. The Chair and Vice Chair of the Faculty meet regularly with the President, Provost, and the academic representatives from the Board of Trustees. 

The Faculty of Color Coalition (FoCC) is a membership organization composed of all faculty members who self-identify as persons of color. Their overarching mission is to culturally affirm, actively support, and advocate for the concerns and professional development needs of the Faculty of Color at Gallaudet. The FoCC holds two seats in the Faculty Senate structure to ensure representation is intentionally elected by their peers. 

Staff Leadership

The Gallaudet Staff Council (GSC) is a body of representatives from the staff elected by their colleagues to discuss and address topics and concerns with respect to work process improvement, community building, and job fulfillment among other critical topics. The Chair and Vice Chair of GSC meet regularly with the President of the university.

The Organization for Equity of Staff of Color (OESOC) is a membership organization composed of staff members at all levels who self-identify as a person of color. Their mission is to serve as a visible and viable advocate dedicated to enhancing the identity, sense of community, educational equity, professional development, and well-being of staff of color at Gallaudet University.

Student Leadership

The Student Body Government (SBG) is the major organization through which Gallaudet students govern themselves, plan activities for the campus, and work with faculty and administration on matters of general interest to the student body. The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is a membership organization of graduate students who are also represented in committees throughout campus. President Cordano regularly meets with student leaders. Provost Lewis meets with the Black Student Union (BSU) and Latino Student Union (LSU) biweekly along with the Dean of Student Affairs, Mr. Travis Imel and the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), Dr. Elizabeth Moore. 

Changes and Updates to the Campus since 2011-2012 Self-Study

Capital improvements have been conducted since the last Self-Study in 2011-2012, including remodeling spaces in order to provide an inclusive learning environment more compatible with the visu-centric “deaf way of being.” A new residential dorm, the Living and Learning Residence Hall (LLRH6), was constructed in 2016 creating a deaf living space free of visual barriers and with an eye toward architectural design to enhance the visual and signing community experience. The renovation of Hall Memorial Building (HMB) in 2016 created a model of visuo-centric space including the long-awaited link between the two wings of HMB. The facilities for the Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) department were also renovated to incorporate cutting edge technologies for their majors. Space for student gatherings outside of formal extracurricular activities was created in the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center (JSAC), where students can relax and engage in games and activities after hours. The Merrill Learning Center (MLC) is currently undergoing a major renovation to address serious issues with water damage and environmental hazards. The renovation is expected to take approximately three years. The Gallaudet Field House, home to many of our athletic facilities and academic programs, has also undergone a transformation, including the construction of gender-neutral spaces such as the locker rooms.

Technology Profile

Gallaudet is a leader in the use of technology in its academic programs and services. To increase the visual accessibility required for our bilingual teaching, classrooms are outfitted with video cameras, computers, projectors, video screens, touch screens, and other technologies. All buildings on campus have wireless network access. Many courses make extensive use of video, including video recordings of classes. Students have access to two central computer labs as well as more than 15 departmental computer labs. For students interested in technology careers, majors in graphic arts, digital media, and information technology are available. Gallaudet Technology Services (GTS) completed an assessment of technology and they are moving forward with some of their recommendations, becoming more strategic in their approach with technology on and off campus. GTS just announced a new centralized computer purchasing program for all university employees that will provide a standard equipment package which includes a 13” laptop, 34” curved monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse, and 12.9” iPad Pro. This program allows all faculty to be mobile and bring their laptop to any classroom, meeting room, or location on or off campus for work. Since March 2020, when the university decided to switch to remote teaching due to the pandemic, the creative use of visually accessible teaching strategies has only increased.

Operating Budget and Employee Profile

As of September 2020, Gallaudet had 182 full-time faculty and 858 other full-time staff in administrative, professional/academic/student support, instructional support, clerical, technical, service, and maintenance. Gallaudet’s operating budget includes both Gallaudet University and Clerc Center; Gallaudet does not separate its budget or income statement between the two due to shared resources, facilities and federal appropriation revenue, as well as accounting practices. For FY 2020, Gallaudet’s operating revenue without donor restrictions was $184,569,425. The composition of this total was as follows: 75.0% from federal appropriations, 6.7% from auxiliary enterprises, 9.4% from net tuition and fees, 2.4% from grants and contracts, 4.2% from investment income, and 2.3% from other sources. 

Impact of Recent Events

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established in 2011 with Dr. Angela McCaskill appointed as Deputy to the President and Associate Provost. The Black Lives Matter movement has been a steady presence at Gallaudet University following the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer in July 2013. Each semester from 2016 through 2020, our General Studies Capstone included a section focused on Black Lives Matter. Dr. Elavie Ndura was appointed as Chief Diversity Officer in July 2017 and stepped down in the summer of 2020. Dr. Elizabeth Moore was then appointed as interim Chief Diversity Officer. After the events of the summer of 2020 when George Floyd was killed in Minnesota, additional attention has been placed on the experiences and needs of the Black deaf community on campus. Professional development events in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 centered around diversity and inclusion. Additionally, the Center for Black Deaf Studies was established in 2020. The university has hosted webinars focused on taking a stand against systemic racism, presentations on Black American Sign Language, and the experiences of deaf BIPOC members of our community to understand and address racism on campus. Support groups have been established for our Students of Color through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the campus counseling center. Gallaudet has also created a university-wide anti-racism plan and has reported regular updates. The Gallaudet University Board of Trustees, the Executive Team, and every employee has undergone training on equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

On March 13, 2020, Gallaudet University elected to shift to fully remote learning for the remainder of the semester in response to the Coronavirus global pandemic. All students were informed they would not be able to return to campus following Spring break and those who lived in the residence halls needed to move out of their rooms. In June 2020, the university announced it would continue to operate in a fully remote learning environment for the fall 2020 semester, and remained fully remote throughout AY 2020-2021. In response to the global pandemic and to ensure equitable access to online courses, Gallaudet University partnered with Apple to provide iPad Pros to all students, faculty, and front-line staff. Faculty and instructional staff underwent intensive training in summer 2020 to improve the remote learning experience.

Contact Us

MSCHE Self-Study Timeline 2020-2023

College Hall 410A

(202) 559-5370


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