IM this article to a friend!

November 17, 2005

RELEASE: Gallaudet Awards Honorary Degrees

From: Gallaudet - Nov 17, 2005

Gallaudet University to Award Honorary Degrees to Bernice Johnson Reagon and Ed Waterstreet at May 2006 Commencement

Colorful “Father of the Leadville 100,” Ken Chlouber, to address graduates; Dr. James Fernandes named Professor Emeritus

(Washington, D.C.) Bernice Reagon—singer, composer, producer, author and scholar—will be one of two honorary degree recipients at Gallaudet University’s Commencement on May 12, 2006. Ed Waterstreet, founder of Deaf West Theatre and the producer of the nationally-acclaimed play “Big River,” will also be awarded an honorary degree.

In 1973, Ms. Reagon founded Sweet Honey in the Rock, an a cappella women’s group based in Washington, D.C. For more than 40 years, beginning with her participation in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, she has been a major cultural voice for justice and freedom, singing, teaching and speaking out on the challenges of racism, women’s and children’s rights, peace, and respect for all cultures. She was one of the first musicians to include deaf and hard of hearing people and American Sign Language interpreters in her group’s performances. Among the many awards Ms. Reagon has received for her work as a scholar in African American culture and history are a MacArthur Fellowship, the Heinz Award for the Arts and Humanities, and the Presidential Medal for contributions to public understanding the Humanities.

Mr. Waterstreet is well-known in the Deaf Community and beyond for his groundbreaking work as the founder and artistic director of Deaf West. He is a former member of the internationally known National Theatre of the Deaf where, with his wife, Linda Bove, he devoted many years to performing, teaching and directing. Mr. Waterstreet’s adaptation of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in the play “Big River” has been praised by theater critics throughout the country. The play’s unique blend deaf and hearing cultures, of American Sign Language and spoken English, and of sights and sounds provides audiences with a rich and entertaining experience.

The Commencement speaker, Mr. Ken Chlouber, is sure to capture the attention of graduates and those who come to celebrate with them. Mr. Chlouber is one of those larger-than-life characters who, once they latch on to an idea they consider truly worthwhile, refuse to let anyone or anything keep them from turning the idea into reality. In his case, the idea was to resuscitate the town of Leadville, Colorado, which had fallen on hard times in the late 1970s due to the closure of a number of mines in the area. Mr. Chlouber was determined that Leadville would not become another ghost town like so many others in that part of Colorado. Instead, he proposed to create what one writer calls “Colorado’s most amazing and punishing [and magical] race,” the Leadville 100. The first race was held in 1983 with 45 participants attempting to run the 100 miles of mountain terrain; in August there were 450 runners, among them Gallaudet President I. King Jordan, competing in his eleventh Leadville 100 ultramarathon.

Dr. James Fernandes, a faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies from 1975 until his retirement last May, will be designated Professor Emeritus during the Commencement ceremony. Emeritus status is awarded to a retired faculty member who has a long established track record of excellence in teaching and/or administration, has provided significant service to the University, and has produced noteworthy scholarly publications and research. Dr. Fernandes began his Gallaudet career as an instructor in the Department of Communication Studies. He was promoted to associate and full professor in the department and in 1996, appointed acting dean for the former College of Continuing Education. From 2003-2005, Dr. Fernandes was the Honors Program Capstone Coordinator, teaching and guiding junior and senior honors students through the thesis process. He is the author of many scholarly works, including recently, “Signs of Eloquence: Foundations of Deaf American Public Address” [with Jane K. Fernandes].


About Gallaudet University
Gallaudet University is the world leader in liberal education and career development for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduate students. The University enjoys an international reputation for the outstanding graduate programs it provides deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students, as well as for the quality of the research it conducts on the history, language, culture, and other topics related to deaf people. In addition, the University’s Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center serves deaf and hard-of-hearing children at its two demonstration schools and throughout the nation by developing, implementing, and disseminating innovative educational strategies. Gallaudet is located in Washington, DC.