WASHINGTON -- On April 8, 1864, when the United States was in the midst of Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed an Enabling Act, essentially a Congressional Charter, to allow a small school for deaf students in Northeast Washington, D.C., to confer college degrees. That school is now known as Gallaudet University and it remains as the only four-year liberal arts university in the world for deaf and hard of hearing students.
To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the signing of its Charter, on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Gallaudet will host a daylong Charter Day Festival which will include the grand opening of the Gallaudet University Museum's exhibition, "Gallaudet at 150 and Beyond."
Location for all events:
800 Florida Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Gallaudet University Museum
Location: Chapel Hall
On April 8, the Gallaudet University Museum will host its grand opening events in the recently renovated historic Chapel Hall on the Gallaudet Campus. The museum exhibition "Gallaudet at 150 and Beyond" begins in the mid-19th century with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and the founding of deaf education in America and guides visitors through the rich history of Gallaudet, highlighting the important people and significant events that had a role in the university's history.
Public Grand Opening: 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.
Ribbon cutting to be held on the steps of the Chapel followed by public entry.
Keynote speaker: Robin-Eve Jasper, president, NoMA (North of Massachusetts Avenue Business Improvement District)
Charter Day Festival Opening CeremonyTime: 9:00-10:30 a.m.
Location: Elstad Auditorium
Gallaudet's 150th Anniversary will kick off with an opening ceremony featuring the following events:
The opening ceremony will be followed by a group photo of all students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests on the University's mall.
- National Anthem performed in American Sign Language
- Presentations by Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz and Provost Dr. Stephen Weiner
- Reading of a statement from President Barack Obama
- Reading of an official proclamation from District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray declaring April 8th as "Gallaudet University Day."
- Skit re-enacting the actual Senate floor debate over the enabling act.
- A poetic narrative performance in American Sign Language "The Gallaudet Sesquicentennial Story"
Evening Lighting of Chapel Hall
Tim: 8:30-11:00 p.m.
Location: Chapel Hall
Built in 1870, Chapel Hall is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and one of the finest examples of pre-Civil War collegiate architecture in the U.S. On the evening of April 8 the Chapel will be "lit up" with a multimedia show of colored lights and American Sign Language (ASL) signs. This offers a nice backdrop for live shots in 10:00 p.m. newscasts.
Below is a list of Gallaudet administrators and faculty who are available for interviews. Students are also available for interviews. The list is not exhaustive.
- President T. Alan Hurwitz: Prior to becoming president of Gallaudet University in 2010, Hurwitz was president of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, N.Y. He is past president of the National Association of the Deaf and the World Organization of Jewish Deaf. Hurwitz is currently chair of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Presidents' Council, the first deaf person to hold this position in NEAC history. He also serves on the board of directors for the D.C. Chamber of Commerce.
- Fred Weiner: Assistant Vice President, Administration. Mr. Weiner is responsible for the university's local and Federal government relations, community relations and real estate development projects.
- Brian Greenwald, Ph.D. - Professor, Department of History, Philosophy, Religion and Sociology. His areas of expertise are American deaf history and 19th Century U.S. social history. He is co-editor of A Fair Chance in the Race of Life: The Role of Gallaudet University in Deaf History and has also published chapters in The Deaf History Reader and Genetics, Disability, and Deafness.
- Jane Norman, Ph.D. - Director Emerita, Gallaudet University Museum. Dr. Norman was a long-time faculty member at Gallaudet, formed the first Gallaudet University Theatre touring company, and re-designed the pilot, Images into the Emmy-award winning Deaf Mosaic, a television magazine format series that aired nationally for ten years. As producer and director, Dr. Norman created the concept of the Festival unit that became an integral part of the University's successful 1989 DEAFWAY and model for the following 2002 DEAFWAY. In 2002 she coordinated the DEAFWAY Film Festival. In 2010 she served as the producer and director of the 2010 competitive WORLDEAF Cinema Festival.
- Michael Olson - Interim Director, Gallaudet Library Deaf Collections and Archives, which contains the most comprehensive collection of deaf-related materials in the world.