Gallaudet University president calls for strengthened cooperation [2007/12/03]
Dr. Robert R. Davila, ninth President of Gallaudet University
On October 30, Dr. Robert R. Davila, the ninth president of Gallaudet University (Washington, D.C.), came to Tokyo to visit with Chairman Yohei Sasakawa. The university accepts students with hearing disabilities from around the world, and hosts the World Deaf Leadership (WDL) Scholarship Fund, established by The Nippon Foundation. The purpose of Dr. Davila’s visit was clear: “We want to strengthen ties to the Nippon Foundation as part of efforts to improve the quality of life for the deaf,” he noted. In response, Chairman Sasakawa promised a stronger partnership with the university, commenting, “We want to make issues involving the deaf a core part of future Nippon Foundation activities.”
After graduating from Gallaudet in 1953 and earning a doctorate in education technologies, Dr. Davila worked variously as a professor in Gallaudet’s Department of Education, as a principal at an affiliated school for the deaf, and as assistant secretary at the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education. From 1996 through 2004, he was the CEO of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Appointed interim President of Gallaudet University in December 2006, he officially became the university’s ninth president this past January. He is the second deaf president of the university, the first being the institution’s eighth president, Dr. King Jordan. (Photo: Dr. Davila, President of Gallaudet University)
Dr. Davila was in Japan with Special Assistant to the President, Dr. Richard Lytle, to tour the industrial technology department at Gallaudet’s sister school, Tsukuba University of Technology. During his visit to the foundation, he noted that, “Gallaudet has relatively few students, but they make significant progress and achieve substantial growth. We’d like to strengthen cooperative ties in the future to improve the quality of life for the deaf.” In response, Chairman Sasakawa promised to develop the two institutions’ cooperative relationship even further. (Photo: Special Assistant to the President, Dr. Lytle (left))
Issues discussed at the meeting also included education in China, India, and Latin America. “While we are continuing our work in India to eliminate the need for those affected by leprosy to beg,” said Chairman Sasakawa, “we’d like to learn more about issues related to the deaf.” Dr. Davila focused on the importance of education. “India faces a great many challenges,” he said, “and education is key to solving the problems faced by people with disabilities.”
Gallaudet University was originally founded in 1857 as the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind. In 1864, it became a national university for the deaf and mute and in 1954 was renamed Gallaudet University. One focus of this institution has been the education of overseas students who will then return home to work in the deaf and hearing-impaired field.