Noted Deaf Historian to Present Program at William Woods

As Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier institution for deaf higher education, conducts a search to replace its first deaf president, the man who wrote about the school’s controversial presidential search in the 1980s will share his thoughts at William Woods University.

Noted deaf historian, author and educator Jack R. Gannon will present a program called “A Shared History” at WWU April 5.

A graduate of Missouri School for the Deaf and Gallaudet University, and a former Gallaudet administrator, Gannon will address the campus and community using American Sign Language, a voice interpreter and projected captions.

The program, which is free and open to the public, will be at 7 p.m. in Cutlip Auditorium of the McNutt Campus Center. It is part of the President’s Concert and Lecture Series.

Gannon is the author of “The Week the World Heard Gallaudet,” which chronicles the remarkable “Deaf President Now” protest at Gallaudet University in the 1980s.

Gallaudet’s sixth president left the university in December 1987. In early March 1988 the board convened to select—from among three finalists (two deaf men and a hearing woman)—the seventh president of Gallaudet.

When the selection of the hearing candidate was announced, students, faculty and staff, who had been working peacefully for months in support of the appointment of a deaf president, were incensed.

As a result of the ensuing protest, the hearing president stepped down after two days and I. King Jordan, Gallaudet’s first deaf president in its 124-year history, was appointed. After 18 years in the presidency, Jordan will retire at the end of 2006.

In addition to “The Week the World Heard Gallaudet,” Gannon has written “Deaf Heritage,” a look at American history through the eyes of the deaf. It was the first community history book published by a deaf author.

He is currently working on two additional books. He is co-author of “Deaf Eyes: A Pictorial History,” which will be published this fall, and he is working on a history of the World Federation of the Deaf.

Gannon was also curator of “History Through Deaf Eyes,” a traveling exhibit that chronicled nearly 200 years of deaf history in the United States. The exhibit was on display at William Woods in late 2001.

Born in West Plains, Mo., Gannon lost his hearing when he was 8 to complications of spinal meningitis, and attended the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton, Mo., from 1946 to1954. He graduated in 1959 from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

For nearly a decade, Gannon and his wife were teachers at the Nebraska School for the Deaf in Omaha before he started a 28-year career at Gallaudet.

He considers himself an educator and an activist.

“I have spent my entire professional life trying to create a better awareness and understanding of deaf people through the books I have written, the presentations I have given and other activities I have undertaken,” Gannon said.

He served as executive director of alumni relations and advancement for Gallaudet and later became special assistant to the president for advocacy.

Gannon is a hero to the deaf population and an authority on deaf history. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of the Deaf and the Edward Allen Fay Award from the Conference of Educational Administrators Serving the Deaf.

In 1989 he received the Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund (LCCF) Laurent Clerc Award for his outstanding contributions to society. In 2004 he was named Man of the Year by the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf, Division #46.

Gannon has an elementary student dormitory named after him on the Missouri School for the Deaf campus, known as Gannon Cottage. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Gallaudet University.

For more information on Gannon’s program, call 573-592-4219.