Thursday, October 19, 2006

An Excellent Letter from Former Teacher/Researcher

Dear I. King Jordan and Jane Fernandes,

In our household, we have been receiving a flurry of letters and brochures from Gallaudet University, trying to sell us on the credibility of the current administration and you, Jane as the incoming President of Gallaudet and begging our support as alumni of Gallaudet. Let me start this letter with this quote, “the current administration of Gallaudet University can do anything but LISTEN!”

Over the past few months, you two along with the Board of Trustees have proven that you can do anything but listen! You have been focusing your energies on trying to sell your credibility to some of your stakeholders, Gallaudet alumni and the media. In the last 11 years, I have been watching and waiting. You have not earned your credibility. You two are becoming more and more transparent with the recent events at Gallaudet and how you are handling the current situation.

I was a Teacher/Researcher in the Preschool Department at Clerc Center when Jane Fernandes started out as Vice President. Restructuring efforts took place. While there was good reason behind the restructuring efforts, the employees, including myself did not own the restructuring process. We were told that what we have been doing was erroneous and that we had to change our philosophy and our instructional planning methods. What was the problem with this, you might ask. The problem was that we did not know what was expected of us. We asked for training opportunities. We asked to see a model of what we were expected to do. We were expected to change our teaching practices. We found out through parent and staff meetings with you, Jane Fernandes that you thought we were incompetent and you have stated that if it was up to you, that you would not hire us. You made it clear that you wanted a certain breed of people in positions throughout the program through your actions. I have never worked or lived in such a hostile and intimidating environment and I will never wish the same for anyone ever! I was so happy when another job opportunity came up. My heart went out to my former colleagues as they continued to work there under such uneasiness, hostility, unpredictability and such fear in a threatening environment. Upon my departure from the campus, I asked for an exit interview with you, I. King Jordan so that I could share my concerns about Jane Fernandes’ leadership style and actions taken. Denise LaRue had me do my exit interview with her and stated that she would share my concerns with you, I. King Jordan. That took place in 1996. There were letters on from the Clerc Center staff and parents of current and former students describing the same thing and I know what they are talking about. You know too, no matter how much you deny your actions or try to explain them away.

You did not listen.

Ten years later, your immediate and current stakeholders, the Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni of Gallaudet University are sharing similar concerns I had before I left the Clerc Center. You are trying to provide leadership to the university community without listening to your most important stakeholders, the students. It is very obvious with the vote of no confidence from the faculty that there has been little if any improvement in your leadership ability or efforts. You are still using your powers to control the current situation at the university. I am very disheartened to read about the involvement of the campus police, the efforts to limit student access to interpreters and the efforts to control information that goes out to the general public through the media, and most recently, the arrests of Gallaudet students and one of the DPN Leaders, Tim Rarus! You are still trying to force your leadership through intimidation, fear and by using powers available to you through the university facilities and funds.

You are still not listening.

The Gallaudet University Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni coalition has very important points and concerns that need your immediate ATTENTION and ACTION. What you need to do is to LISTEN to your primary stakeholders, the Gallaudet students. You need to stop trying to appeal to the alumni and general public by convincing us of your credibility. What you need to do is to earn your credibility. You need to earn our respect. You can’t demand or expect our respect. You need to stop using fear related tactics. You need to stop using resources the students are paying for. You need to stop intimidating people, especially your primary stakeholders!

It is our turn. We will not listen to you until you listen to us.

I am concerned about the future of Gallaudet if you continue to lead the university like this. I suggest you cease all mailings via snail mail or email to the alumni and refocus your energy on what is happening in your own front yard minus the use of earth juice. It is time you listened. It is time you earned our respect, confidence and your credibility. Take the time to listen to the demands made by the Faculty, Staff, Students, and Alumni (FSSA) coalition. Important note; the students are not alone. They are supported by the faculty, staff, alumni and community. I along with my fellow alumni in Delaware and all over the world support the FSSA. WE STAND UNITED!

I hope the next mass mailing we are bombarded with in our household is to announce your decision to respond to ALL OF GALLAUDET’S STAKEHOLDERS by following through with the demands of the FSSA, (to reopen the presidential search process upon Dr. Fernandes’ resignation and to allow for NO reprisals!


Debbie Trapani
Gallaudet Alumni, B.A. 1991 and Ed.S. 2005
Former Teacher/Researcher at KDES