Head of Gallaudet Board Resigns After Personal Attacks and Threats
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WASHINGTON – The interim head of the Gallaudet University board of trustees has resigned, saying she was overwhelmed by the protests that greeted the selection of a new president to lead the nation’s only liberal arts college for the deaf.
“The presidential search and the controversy that has ensued have put enormous strain and stress on me,” Celia May Baldwin wrote in a memo. “I simply could not ignore the numerous aggressive threats that I have received over the past weeks.”
Ms. Baldwin’s memo did not elaborate on the kinds of threats that were made against her.
The school’s board of trustees selected Provost Jane Fernandes last week to replace president I. King Jordan. The decision sparked criticism and Ms. Fernandes received a no-confidence vote from faculty.
Some claim Ms. Fernandes, who is scheduled to take office next January, did not do a good job as provost and others have said she was not the right choice to lead the deaf community.
Mr. Jordan described Ms. Fernandes, 49, who was born deaf but grew up speaking and did not learn American Sign Language until she was 23, as a “quiet leader,” a trait that he said is common in other university presidents.
The fate of Ms. Fernandes lies with the board of the trustees. Before resigning, Baldwin said the board stood firm in its selection of Ms. Fernandes as ninth president.
“No one should face threats and personal attacks and we respect her personal decision to step down,” the acting board chair, Brenda Brueggemann, wrote in a memo. “I am grateful for her tenure on our Board and her commitment to Gallaudet.”