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May 20, 2006

Gallaudet: No Punishments to Follow Protests Against President

From: Washington Post - United States - May 20, 2006

By Susan Kinzie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 20, 2006; B04

Protesters at Gallaudet University won't be punished for staging rallies, faculty no-confidence votes and a tent city after the announcement of a new president at the school for the deaf, the board of trustees told the community yesterday.

A coalition of students, faculty, staff and alumni said the search process was badly flawed and demanded that it be reopened without reprisals for those who spoke out.

As the year ended last week with hours of talks between protesters and board members, trustees announced that Jane K. Fernandes would resign as provost to focus on her new role as president. She is to begin Jan. 1, when longtime president I. King Jordan retires.

In a memo to the campus community, Brenda Brueggemann, acting chair of the board, promised that there would be no reprisals. And she said Fernandes will work with the community on its concerns about diversity, heading a panel that will include students, staff, trustees and professors.

Brueggemann said trustees will have more informal talks with people on campus to address concerns about transparency and lack of faith in the way the university is run. And Fernandes, who will lead the search for the provost to replace her, will do that with full faculty involvement, Brueggemann wrote.

After Fernandes was named provost in 2000, professors were angry that they didn't have a voice in the process, and voted to condemn it.

Jordan said he would appoint an interim provost, and has already met with campus leaders to choose a committee that will help nominate and interview candidates.

Richard Lytle, a professor who has been working with the protesters, said the group "will continue to help the board understand the cost to our community -- the cost of keeping Jane" Fernandes, including the potential impact on alumni donations and community support.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company