One of the groups most directly involved in the cause for a deaf president was the President’s Council on Deafness (PCD). Established in the mid-1980s as an advocacy and advisory group for deaf faculty and staff at Gallaudet, the PCD’s chief purpose was to promote and protect deaf interests, particularly in the area of employment.

After President Jerry Lee announced his resignation, the PCD moved quickly, establishing a town hall meeting and sending letters to the presidential search committee, advocating the recruitment of qualified deaf presidential candidates.

The PCD also established a task force that interviewed the candidates. In its final recommendation, the PCD named I. King Jordan and Harvey Corson as the only acceptable candidates, noting that none of the hearing candidates had any experience with deafness or deaf people.

After the Board of Trustees’ selection of Zinser, various members of the PCD played a large, often unseen part in the protest, serving as faculty and staff liaisons, contacting the press, and arranging rallies and marches.

The PCD was also instrumental in formulating the four demands.


*** The appointment of the new president of Gallaudet University has resulted in an OVERWHELMING vote of NO CONFIDENCE in the Board of Trustees!


1) We demand that the Board of Trustees appoint one of the two deaf finalists as President, Gallaudet University… NOW!

2) We demand that Jane Basset Spilman resigns from the Board immediately and that a deaf Board Member be elected as chairperson.

3) We demand that the Board initiate the process of changing its By-Laws to conform with the C.O.E.D.’s recommendations to Congress of a 51 percent deaf member representation on the Board of Trustees.

4) We demand that no student, staff, or faculty member of Gallaudet University be subject to any reprisals as a result of their standing on this matter.

11:30 am, March 7, 1988

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