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April 11, 2004

Ohlone students to help pick dean

From: Alameda Times-Star - Alameda,CA,USA - Apr 11, 2004

Panel members want

By Jennifer Kho, STAFF WRITER

FREMONT -- Students will not be part of Ohlone College's search committee for a new dean of deaf studies, but some will be allowed to interview final candidates.

"They requested to be involved and we welcomed it," college President Doug Treadway said. "It's as simple as that."

The decision came after deaf advocates rallied two weeks ago in favor of hiring a deaf dean for the deaf studies program. The college is considering both hearing and deaf applicants.

"We are pleased to hear about that news, especially because they obviously listened to our protests and made accommodations," said Jeremy Beaver, a leader of Deaf Dean Always, a group that advocates hiring a deaf dean. "We believe (college administrators) have opened their minds, and eyes, to our voice. This is a big step forward."

The college is hiring a replacement for Ron Burdett, who is retiring at the end of the school year. Burdett, who has worked at the college for 31 years, was the only deaf dean at a U.S. community college when he was promoted to the dean of deaf studies position four years ago.

Question of discrimination

Deaf Dean Always members and some other deaf and hard-of-hearing students say the new hire also should be deaf, while college officials say they can't legally discriminate against hearing candidates. More than half of the roughly 30 candidates are deaf, Treadway said.

Last month, Executive Dean of Human Resources Lyle Engeldinger said the college was considering adding students to the search committee, which will select three finalists and make a recommendation to Treadway.

But the search committee already had been established, so administrators decided to form a separate student committee to interview the finalists and make a recommendation to the search committee, Treadway said.

President Treadway -- who makes the hiring decision, subject to confirmation by the board of trustees -- said he definitely will consider the students' recommendation. He said he also is considering adding students to future search committees.

"One of the things important for a dean position -- or any administration position -- is, do the students feel like they can connect with this person," he said. "Is there a rapport, do students feel this is someone who will advocate for them well? That is something you can't see on paper. We will be able to see how they come across to the students."

Beaver said the Deaf Dean Always committee is happy with the decision.

"We think that being on an interviewing committee would be as effective as being part of the hiring committee, especially since we will be able to talk to the applicants and give feedback," he said. "It will allow us to express our opinion on each applicant and give valuable input to the decision. We hope that our feedback will be taken seriously and considered as a vital part of the hiring process."

Left out of search

Some students, however, say they think they should have been included in the search committee. Christopher Lui, a hard-of-hearing student majoring in U.S. history and deaf studies, said he's worried about whether the search committee will pay attention to the student interviewers.

"I think it's great that the students are involved in the process, but unfortunate that they are not on the hiring committee," he said. "I think it's hard for some people to take because student voice and participation, in almost anything that goes on around the campus, is very important. Without student voice and participation, students won't be happy at all."

©2004 by MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers