In 1988, Gallaudet University made history by appointing its first deaf president, I. King Jordan. The selection of Jordan was the result of a week-long protest, known as the Deaf President Now (DPN) movement, that was led by students, faculty, and staff.
Gallaudet University is the world's only liberal arts university for the deaf and hard of hearing, and at the time of the protest, it had never had a deaf president. The DPN movement began when a search committee announced the selection of a hearing candidate, Elisabeth Zinser, as the next university president.
The announcement sparked outrage and protests from the deaf community, who believed that the university's leadership should be deaf in order to better understand the needs and experiences of the students. Students, faculty, and staff organized demonstrations and strikes, and their actions gained national attention.
The protests continued for a week, and eventually, the board of trustees agreed to the protesters' demands and announced the appointment of I. King Jordan as the next university president. Jordan, who was deaf himself, was a former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Gallaudet and was well-respected in the deaf community.
Jordan's appointment as the first deaf president of Gallaudet University was a significant moment in the history of the deaf community. It demonstrated that the deaf community could come together and demand change, and that their voices could be heard and respected.
During his tenure as president, Jordan implemented many changes at the university, including improving campus accessibility and expanding the curriculum. He also worked to increase the visibility and recognition of the university and the deaf community as a whole.
In 2006, Jordan retired as president of Gallaudet University, but his legacy as the first deaf president lives on. His appointment and the DPN movement that led to it continue to be celebrated and studied as a defining moment in deaf history.
In conclusion, the appointment of I. King Jordan as the first deaf president of Gallaudet University was a milestone for the deaf community and a testament to the power of activism and advocacy. It demonstrated that change is possible when communities come together and demand it, and it paved the way for greater representation and inclusivity for the deaf community.