Academics
Areas of Study

Bridgetta Bourne-FirlStudent Activist

Jerry Covell
Student Activist

Greg Hlibok
Student Activist

Tim Rarus
Student Activist

Phil Bravin
Board Member

Elisabeth Zinser
Hearing Presidential Candidate

Jane Spilman
Board chairperson

President’s Council on Deafness
Special Advisory Group

Jerry C. Lee
Former President

Dr. I. King Jordan
Former President

In their own words…Personal accounts of DPN events of 1988

Notable Quotes

The Deaf President Now (DPN) Protest

In March 1988, Gallaudet University experienced a watershed event that led to the appointment of the 124-year-old university's first deaf president. Since then, Deaf President Now (DPN) has become synonymous with self-determination and empowerment for deaf and hard of hearing people everywhere. The Issues A...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

Tim Rarus, ’88, most experienced of the “Gallaudet four”

Tim Rarus, a government major from Arizona, was the most politically experienced of the "Gallaudet four," the students who quickly rose to leadership positions during the DPN protest. The other three were Greg Hlibok, Jerry Covell, and Bridgetta Bourne. As the outgoing Student Body Government...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

Philip Bravin, ’66, chair of the presidential search committee

One of just four deaf Board of Trustee members in 1988, Bravin was chair of the presidential search committee responsible for the selection and screening of finalists. A 1966 graduate of Gallaudet and an IBM executive, Bravin became the intermediary between student leaders and the...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

Quotes about the DPN protest worth sharing

The following quotes were made during, or shortly after, the DPN protest of March 1988. The source for these and other quotes used throughout this website are from either the book by Jack Gannon, The Week the World Heard Gallaudet or Gallaudet in the News...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

Jerry C. Lee resigns as Gallaudet president after only three years

Only three years after being named the seventh president of Gallaudet University in 1984, Jerry C. Lee announced he would be leaving to take a job as vice-president of Bassett Industries. His resignation began an intense debate about the need for a deaf president. A...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

Profile of Jane Bassett Spilman, former chair of the Board of Trustees

"Deaf people are not ready to function in a hearing world." are the words Jane Bassett Spilman, Chair of Gallaudet University's Board of Trustees, is reported to have said on the night Elizabeth Zinser was chosen as president. Spilman denied saying this, and many contended...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

In Their Own Words: Students remember the day DPN shut the Gallaudet campus down

Yoon Lee, student photographer "On the 8th Day of the DPN Movement, around 8 p.m. some students were running toward the Field House and signing, 'WE WON! WE WON! EVERYONE GO TO THE FIELD HOUSE!' I was already tired from taking pictures every day and...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

I. King Jordan’s account of the DPN protest

"My all-day interview happened on Saturday. It was very intensive, and when it was over, I felt confident. I knew I had done well. I went home that evening and told Linda that I was sure I would be offered the job. On Sunday, I...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

Greg Hlibok, ’89, elected president of the Student Body Government one day before the protest

Elected president of the Student Body Government only a day before the March 1 rally, Greg Hlibok found himself thrust into the spotlight as the official student leader of DPN. A member of a close-knit New York deaf family, which included two older brothers who...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

Impassioned speaker Gerald “Jerry” Covell, ’89

An impassioned speaker and activist, Gerald "Jerry" Lee Covell was well known at Gallaudet for his involvement in campus politics and extracurricular activities. He was tagged as the protesting students' "spiritual leader" due to his fire-and-brimstone speaking style. He had just completed an unsuccessful bid...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

Profile of Gallaudet President Elisabeth Zinser

As vice-chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Meadville, Pennsylvania native, Elizabeth Zinser, was named president of Gallaudet University on March 6, 1988. This sparked a protest by many students, alumni, faculty, and staff who felt that although she was a qualified...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

Bio of DPN student activist Bridgetta Bourne-Firl, ’89

A government major in 1988, Bridgetta Bourne-Firl was heavily involved with college politics and once ran as Jerry Covell's running mate in a bid for Student Body Government leadership. A soft-spoken yet charismatic student and a natural leader, she joined forces with the new SBG...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

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National Deaf Life Museum

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