- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University soon will schedule a meeting to begin a second search for the ninth president of the 142-year-old school for the deaf and hard of hearing.

“We have a couple of dates in prospect,” said board Chairwoman Brenda Jo Brueggemann, an English professor at Ohio State University. “We will try to get it as soon as possible. We are polling members to get as large attendance as possible.”

Cynthia W. Ashby, a trustee and director of State Schools in Georgia, agreed. “The board of trustees is working together to do the job of getting a new president.”

The university’s 21 trustees, including three members of Congress, are scattered across the country. They met last weekend near Washington Dulles International Airport when they decided to terminate the appointment of Jane K. Fernandes, whom they chose May 1 to assume the presidency.

Mrs. Fernandes would have taken over the post Jan. 1, when outgoing President I. King Jordan steps down.

Students, staff and faculty had objected to the selection of Mrs. Fernandes, who had been provost six of her 11 years at Gallaudet, and earlier last month began a campus takeover that lasted 3 weeks.

The Gallaudet Faculty Staff Student Alumni coalition (FSSA) urged university administrators not to penalize students, faculty and staff who had been involved in the protest.

But, letters are being distributed to some protesters, accusing them of violating the university’s code of conduct.

The code states that students may be expelled or their classes restricted for verbal abuse, harassment, disruption of educational processes, property destruction, disorderly conduct and unauthorized entrance in university buildings.

Protesters took over Hall Memorial Building, a major classroom building, for two days. Last week, they took over the second floor of College Hall, the administration building, for four hours, and staged a sit-in for four hours the next day in the hallway outside Mr. Jordan’s office.

The FSSA, which praised the termination, urged that more students, faculty, staff and alumni be included in the search for and selection of the next president.

“What we are calling for is not new and it is not radical. It is simply the norm at almost every other higher education institution,” said Katya Kruglak, a spokeswoman for FSSA.

At its next meeting, the board of trustees will create a Presidential Search Committee, that will include students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Last year, two-thirds of the committee was made up of non-board members, including students, faculty, staff and alumni, former university officials said.

Because the search and selection of prime candidates will take time, the board also must appoint an interim president until a new one is chosen.

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