Speeches and Testimony

Statement by

I. King Jordan
President of Gallaudet University

Before the

U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations

On the

Fiscal Year 2001 Request for Gallaudet University

March 16, 2000

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:

I am pleased to come before you today to testify in support of the Administration's Fiscal Year 2001 budget request for Gallaudet University. I am pleased and somewhat saddened, Mr. Chairman, as this will apparently be the last time I testify before you. On behalf of the entire Gallaudet community and the American deaf community, I want to thank you for the support you have given our university during the many years you have served in Congress and especially during your service as chairman of this subcommittee. I thank you, and I wish you well in all your future endeavors.

Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Request

The budget request for Gallaudet University for fiscal year 2001 is $87.65 million, an increase of $1.67 million over the amount that was appropriated in fiscal year 2000. The University plans to use these additional funds to offset inflationary increases related to its operations. The University also would use $2.5 million that was included in the fiscal year 2000 appropriation for construction to support deferred maintenance and building improvement projects under general operations in fiscal year 2001.

As you know, Congress has played a vital role in the higher education of deaf people in the United States through 136 years of continuous support for Gallaudet University. Congressional support of Gallaudet represents a commitment to and confidence in the aspirations of individuals with disabilities that is unique in the world. Each year I am grateful to have the chance to discuss with you the opportunities that have been opened to American individuals who are deaf because of Gallaudet University.

For the past several years, Gallaudet has been engaged in the refinement of our strategic plan and in the process of working with the Department of Education to ensure that our plan fulfills the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). Assessment of progress toward our goals, as tracked by GPRA indicators, is now an explicit part of the budget process. Much of what I will discuss today is reflected in the planning documents that we have developed jointly with the Department. Gallaudet has made progress in achieving all three of its strategic objectives which focus on: student academic and career achievement, providing leadership in setting the standard for best educational practices for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and establishing a sustainable resource base.

Priority 1: Student Academic and Career Achievement

In order for Gallaudet to continue to serve a critical function for people who are deaf in the United States and the world, it is vital that we increase the number of students who graduate. To that end, we are using different but interrelated approaches. We are re-examining our assumptions about learning and teaching and how those assumptions affect the approaches we take to achieve particular student outcomes. We have continued to upgrade our technological infrastructure and infuse the most advanced technology into all of our programs of instruction and research. As technology redefines the landscape of education and the workplace, Gallaudet is re-examining how it can ensure that our students are prepared to become effective users, consumers, and producers of technology. The University is employing technologies that support all types of learning -- including traditional face-to-face instruction, self-paced instruction, and online learning. Gallaudet students, faculty, teachers, and staff are eagerly exploring applications of technologies such as web-enhanced and web-based courses, video conferencing, and real-time captioning.

During fiscal year 1999, Gallaudet committed about $4 million in operating funds to technology, including $2.4 million in special funding provided by Congress specifically for this purpose. As a result of this investment, the University's integrated information system passed the Y2K test with flying colors, and we made a successful transition to a new email and internet support system. Currently, we are implementing student registration through the World Wide Web, and we are further integrating our learning technology and research systems.

The University is particularly motivated to increase the graduation rate of its students because of the excellent prospects that Gallaudet graduates enjoy. Data about our alumni, collected over the past several decades, indicate that they have a high rate of success in obtaining productive employment and in earning advanced degrees. Researchers at the University have recently completed a new comprehensive study that provides further information about the success of our deaf graduates and the importance of literacy in their achievements throughout their lives that will be released in the near future. In this study, information was gathered on all alumni who either graduated from or left the University prior to 1998. Consistent with information collected during the past 20 years, more than 60 percent of our former undergraduates went on to graduate school and more than 40 percent earned advanced degrees. This is about twice the rate for a comparison group of undergraduate programs. Also consistent with previous surveys is the finding that only 4 percent of bachelor's level respondents were unemployed and looking for work, and for graduate degree holders the corresponding figure was 2 percent.

I believe that this level of success is due at least in part to the many opportunities we provide our students for participating in internship and cooperative learning programs. Currently, about two-thirds of our undergraduate students will have done internships by the time they graduate, and we are seeking to increase this number. Students have a broad range of internship opportunities, including, in recent years, placements in private businesses and at government agencies, including the Department of Education, National Institutes of Health, Department of Agriculture, United States Forest Service, and Department of Defense. Gallaudet undergraduates have also worked at prestigious research laboratories at the University of Michigan and Duke. Many of these internships lead directly to the professional positions that most Gallaudet graduates eventually attain. When I became president of Gallaudet in 1988, I said that deaf people COULD do anything that hearing people can do. Now I would have to amend that statement and say that deaf people ARE doing everything hearing people do.

Priority 2: Providing Leadership in Setting the Standard for Best Educational Practices for Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Gallaudet is committed to ensuring that technology continues to remove accessibility barriers for deaf and hard of hearing people, and we are committed to using our influence to maintain access for deaf people to the new technologies, especially the information superhighway. Gallaudet takes very seriously its leadership role in meeting the needs of the deaf community and the larger community of which it is a part in the era of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Now more than ever, individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing have a wide variety of opportunities to make valuable contributions as members of American society, and American society increasingly welcomes these contributions. Gallaudet sees technology as an important means to help achieve that result, as well as a mechanism for improving its own efficiency and effectiveness in providing high quality educational, research, and outreach programs.

At the beginning of the fiscal year, the University renamed what had been known as the Pre-College National Mission Programs (PCNMP). The new name follows a restructuring of the programs to make them more responsive to the needs of American deaf students. Reference to pre-college programs in the old name had been presenting us with something of an identity problem. Many people found it difficult to connect the program's name with its mission. Some thought the name represented a college preparatory program, while in fact we prepare students for transition both to higher education and the world of work. We sought advice from within the University itself and from our constituents around the country in deciding to name the program after the first deaf teacher of the deaf in the United States, Laurent Clerc.

The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center is comprised of the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES), the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD), and related research, demonstration, and outreach activities designed to improve educational programs for deaf children throughout the United States. The Laurent Clerc Center is playing a vital role in serving the extended deaf community by continuing to implement its three priorities for research, development, and dissemination that were established through a process involving public input: 1) literacy; 2) family involvement; and 3) transition to work or higher education. A new programmatic goal will be to find effective ways to work with and educate children with cochlear implants, as these children represent a growing proportion of the deaf and hard of hearing school population.

As part of its mandate to serve the Nation's deaf students, the Laurent Clerc Center has been greatly expanding its work with a variety of educational programs throughout the country. The Center is currently cooperating with programs in the following locations: W. Hartford, CT; Tucson, AZ; Bloomfield Hills, MI; Fremont, CA; Laramie, WY; Las Vegas, NV; Nesconset, NY; Colorado Springs, CO; St.Paul, MN; Seattle, WA; Wilson, NC; Burbank, CA; Cincinnati, OH; Honolulu, HI; Gooding, ID; Jacksonville, IL; Indianapolis, IN; Trenton, NJ; Framingham, MA; Jackson, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Louisville, KY; Frederick, MD; Flint, MI; Midland Park, NJ; Mill Neck, NY; Jackson, MS; Fulton, MO; White Plains, NY; Rome, NY; Sulphur, OK; Philadelphia, PA; Burien, WA; Hesperia, CA; Providence, RI; Bronx, NY; Scranton, PA; Spartanburg, SC; West Covina, CA; Newark, DE; Knoxville, TN; Austin, TX; Irvine, CA; Fairfax, VA; Vancouver, WA; Romney, WV; Pittsburgh, PA; Delavan, WI; Worcester, MA.

Priority 3: Establishing a Sustainable Resource Base

The Education of the Deaf Act (EDA) amendments of 1998 made significant changes to the already highly successful endowment matching program that was authorized originally in 1986 and first funded in fiscal year 1988. Since the inception of the program, the University has matched more than $13 million in appropriated Federal funds, and the total market value of the fund stood at more than $42 million at the end of fiscal year 1999. I am also proud to inform you that the value of the University's total endowment now stands at more than $130 million. The EDA amendments of 1998 provide for increased flexibility in the investment of the endowment fund, and we believe that this will lead to greater growth in its value. The amendments also provided for one-to-one matches between all privately raised and Federal funds, and, having already matched $1 million in fiscal year 2000, we are studying the feasibility of matching an additional $1 million this year. We think this is particularly important because the new amendments specify that matches must be made to funds raised within the current fiscal year, and we have raised an especially large amount of private endowment money this year. Finally, I would like to mention the success of our capital campaign. We set a 5-year goal of $30 million, and, now, in the third year of the campaign, we have already raised $22 million. However, obviously, much remains to be done. A successful campaign will allow us to construct a new, very high-tech academic center, among other projects. This building will allow us to stay at the cutting edge in applications of technology to the educational process.

Need to Continually Renew Facilities

In fiscal year 2001, the University is requesting that the $2.5 million in special funding that was included in the fiscal year 2000 appropriation to renovate facilities at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf be added to our budget base on an ongoing basis to support the continuing need to update and renew our facilities. Funding such renewal has become a major problem for higher education institutions. We have worked in recent years to develop a comprehensive capital improvement plan, an overall deferred maintenance program, a long-term technology plan, and a capital campaign. We are very pleased that the Department supports our request for this addition to our budget.

Thank you for the opportunity to come before you today. I would be happy to respond to any questions you may have.

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Last Updated -- [3/15/2000] (mjj)