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May 11, 2006

A Statement by Tom Willard

From: Tom Willard - May 11, 2006

A Statement by Tom Willard
Editor of Deafweekly, Former Editor of Silent News and Newswaves
Rochester, NY – May 11, 2006


Gallaudet University is on the verge of chaos. Protestors and administrators have reached an impasse. On one hand, Jane Fernandes says, “Hell no, I won’t go.” On the other hand, protesters say, “Hell no, we won’t go home to our hearing families for the summer when we can hang out with our friends here at Tent City.” And so it goes.

I have sat on the sidelines too long. In the interest of helping to end this painful episode and move on in a new spirit of unity and hope, it is my humble duty to offer my services as the next President of Gallaudet University.

To be honest, I don’t see any other way out of this predicament. I don’t think either I. King Jordan or Jane Fernandes have enough support to serve as president.

It is sad to see King Jordan tarnish his legacy at the end of his career, but I would not be surprised if he steps down before his planned December 31 retirement. And I don’t understand how Fernandes can, or would want to, lead a campus that is so obviously opposed to her presence.

So when the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees meets today, I strongly urge the board to do the only sensible thing and appoint me President.

Some people will say I’m “nuts.” Others will say I’m “looney tunes.” To these people, I would ask you to please not use insensitive labels related to issues of mental health.

Still others will say, “He can’t be President! He doesn’t have enough letters after his name!”

It’s true, my college degree is in photography. I don’t think this is a hindrance, however, as I would be able to take pictures during secret meetings – for evidence, you know.

But I understand the objection, and I think it is only fair to accept a cut in pay due to my lack of “credentials.” You would not have to pay me $550,000 as you paid King Jordan. Instead, I would be happy to do the job for, say, $50,000.

This is great news for Gallaudet, because there would be an extra $500,000 for other things. For example, every Monday we could close early and go to Wendy’s for dinner. On Wednesdays, we could hold a drawing for a free cruise for one lucky student and three friends. And every Friday, there could be a campus-wide party with everything – ice cream, cake, soda pop, balloons, clowns, the works!

Having served the deaf community as a journalist for 25 years, I honestly think I would make an excellent president for Gallaudet University. Well, I don’t “honestly think” it, but I have a pretty good feeling that it’s true. Well, it’s not so much a “ good feeling,” as more of a hunch. Truth be told, your guess is as good as mine – we’ll just have to see, won’t we?

A journalist has to be good at listening to all sides and communicating in a clear manner, both important skills for a university president. And a journalist needs to know what is important and how to hold an audience’s attention – also good skills for a president.

I’d be happy to put on a suit and shake hands with the senators and say “Keep the money flowing, homeboy,” or whatever the hell the president does all day.

In addition, I figure I have written up more than 2,500 news items since becoming editor of Deafweekly in October 2004.

Can you imagine if I remembered all that crap?

Fortunately I forget just about everything from one week to the next, and this is just what you want in a president, the constant ability to see things from a fresh perspective, with no hint of vengeance or vindictiveness for past transgressions.

All in all, I think my humble suggestion represents the best approach toward resolving the crisis at Gallaudet University in a manner that will please all constituents and allow the community to move beyond the present turmoil.

I have just one question. The job still comes with the free house, right?

P.S. Unity for Gallaudet!

P.P.S. The humor-impaired might be asking themselves, “Is he kidding?” Yes, I am kidding – about the $500,000 pay cut. I want the whole enchilada, baby.