Advancing Gallaudet: Alumni Support for the Nation's University for the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing and its Similarities to Black Colleges and Universities

Advancing Gallaudet: Alumni Support for the Nation's University for the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing and its Similarities to Black Colleges and Universities
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   Advancing Gallaudet: AlumniSupport for the Nation’s University for the Deaf and Hard-of-hearingand its Similarities to BlackColleges and Universities Received (in revised form): May 17, 2005 Noah D. Drezner Noah D. Drezner is a Ph.D. student in higher education in the Policy, Management, and Evaluation Division atthe University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in Philadelphia. He currently holds degrees fromthe University of Rochester (B.S.) and the University of Pennsylvania (M.S.Ed.) His research interests includephilanthropy within both majority and minority serving institutions. Before returning to graduate school Mr.Drezner was a development officer at the University of Rochester.  Abstract Gallaudet University, srcinally charteredby the US Congress as the ColumbiaInstitute for the Deaf and Dumb andBlind in 1864, recently began to solicitdonations from their alumni throughformal fund-raising campaigns. Using acombination of historical and qualitativeanalysis coupled with descriptive statisticsfrom institutional data and the Voluntary Support of Education Survey, Gallaudet’sadvancement story becomes apparent. Working within the Deaf culture and itsnontraditional view of philanthropy,Gallaudet’s fund-raising experiences andresults are similar to those of historically black colleges and universities.  Keywords:  Deaf education, fund raising, HBCUs  Introduction  John Havens and Paul Schervish note thatover the next 55 years America willexperience a ‘‘great wealth transfer’’ where$41 trillion will likely be passed on fromone generation to the next—throughbequest, philanthropy, and taxes. A conservative estimate by Havens andSchervish approximates that of the ‘‘great wealth transfer’’ 15 percent, or $6 trillion, will be given to nonprofit organizations. 1 Havens and Schervish conducted theirstudy in 1999 before the Bush tax cutsthat propose an elimination of estate taxesand the tax advantage for charitablegiving at death. It is unclear how the $6trillion estimate will be affected if the taxcuts are adopted permanently. David Joulfaian, from the US Treasury Department, found that the estate taxdeduction given for charitable bequests is‘‘budget efficient,’’ in that it encourages Author’s Contact Address: Noah D. Drezner University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education3700 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19104, USAPhone: +1 215 898 6646Fax: +1 215 573 6069Email: International Journal of Educational Advancement. Vol.5 No.4 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENT. VOL.5 NO.4 301–315  301 ª  HENRY STEWART PUBLICATIONS 2005. ISSN 1744-6511.  giving at a rate higher than the revenuelost by the government. Joulfaianestimates in the absence of the estatetax, charitable bequests might declineby 12 percent. However, Stuart Butler, vice-president of domestic andeconomic policy studies at the HeritageFoundation, citing Milton Friedman’spermanent income/overlappinggenerations theory, where a person’sresidual wealth, after heirs aretaken care of, goes to philanthropiccauses, believes that by eliminatingthe estate tax charitable bequests willincrease since the ‘‘after-tax cost of planned contributions to heirs wouldbe reduced.’’ 2 ) As philanthropic organizations andfoundations prepare for thisphenomenon, many have focused theirinterests on learning more abouttraditions of giving outside of themajority communities. Scholars andfoundations have concentrated theirresearch efforts on ethnic minorities, women, and religions, but have notstudied those populations with differingabilities. 3 For instance, these reports andstudies have neglected to look at theuniqueness of the American Deaf community, its role in giving, and its ownculture of philanthropy. 4 In an era of decreased Federal support of highereducation and higher cost of education,Gallaudet University has turned to itsgraduate deaf alumni to cover theinstitution’s budget differential in aconcerted effort recently for the first time.Gallaudet’s first formal capital campaignbegan in 1997.This paper will examine formal fundraising at Gallaudet University, explorethe culture of giving within the Deaf community, and finally draw out thesimilarities between Gallaudet’sdevelopment story with other minority communities, specifically, historically black colleges and universities. Methods Both oral histories and primary documentanalyses were used in this study. Oralhistories were gathered by informationalinterviews and electronic correspondencesthrough ‘‘conversation[s] with apurpose.’’ 5 The intention of thesecommunications was to obtaininformation that was not otherwiseavailable through written documents,policies, or records of GallaudetUniversity’s institutional advancementoffice. 6  A ‘‘mix of more- and less- structured questions’’ were used insemistructured interviews and emails. 7 Thequeries in the protocol were intended tobe open-ended, conversational, and‘‘guided by a list of questions,’’ yetflexible. 8 They were hypothetical, idealposition, interpretive as well asexploratory in nature. 9 Interviews, wherepermission was granted, were audiotaped,transcribed, and additional notes weretaken throughout the interview. Detailednotes of interviews that were not taped were taken as well. American SignLanguage (ASL) interpreters were used tofacilitate discussion with deaf interviewees where the author’s ASL knowledge wasnot adequate. The transcriptions, notes,institutional records, and archivaldocuments, from Gallaudet University and the Library of Congress, are thedataset for this historical study. 10 Finally, the dataset was analyzed forcontent. 11 History and Context In order to educate the deaf, residentialschools were opened throughout theUnited States. In the early portion of 1857 Amos Kendall and others convinced theUS Congress to incorporate the Columbia Noah D. Drezner INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENT. VOL.5 NO.4 301–315 302 ª  HENRY STEWART PUBLICATIONS 2005. ISSN 1744-6511.  Institution for the Instruction for theDeaf, Dumb, and Blind. 12 Congress beganits financial connection to the educationof the deaf from day one. The legislatureappropriated $150 per year for localchildren attending the school in order tocover their maintenance and tuitioncosts. 13  Additional support for the newly established school came from its founder.Kendall donated a house and two acres of land, and finances to cover the start-upcosts and salary of the superintendent. 14 Kendall’s wealth and influenceundoubtedly helped the then ColumbiaInstitute gain favor in the Congress and within the Jackson administration’s eyes.Kendall was a political powerhouse of sorts. He had for six years served as thefourth auditor of the United StatesTreasury and was Postmaster General forfive years. This influence was captured inan 1860 report in  The Washington Evening Star  : ‘‘At that time, next to [President Andrew] Jackson, [Kendall’s] mind wasthe controlling one in the Government,stamping the impress of its patriotism and will more indelibly upon the future of theUnited States than those of all the rest of  Jackson’s advisors.’’ 15 It was this influence that led to theinception of the Columbia Institution forthe Deaf and Dumb as a college, in 1864.The college was later renamed after itsfirst president Edward Miner Gallaudetand has received the vast majority of itsoperating budget from the Federalgovernment. 16 The government funding was put in place because the institution was given collegial powers, including theability to confer degrees, by an Act of Congress—that after some debate passedunanimously by the Senate—and wassigned by President Lincoln on April 8,1864. 17 Upon passing the authorizationCongress allocated $26,000 to cover thecost of purchasing an additional 13 acresof land. $26,000 was nearly 400 percent of the Institution’s total receipts for its first year of operation ($6,513.25; $5,263.25from Congress and $1,250 from privatesubscriptions). 18 Edward Gallaudet, reflecting on thegovernment’s involvement, later pointedout in a speech given to the ColumbiaHistorical Society in 1911 that it was aunique show of support and investmentto deaf education that Congress acted ‘‘inproviding for a national college for theDeaf at a time when the burdens of [theCivil War] were pressing heavily upon theGovernment.’’ Gallaudet continues by pointing out that the very day that the$26,000 of support was ‘‘drawn from theTreasury, all communication, either by rail or telegraph, between the Capitol andthe country was cut off by the operationsof the Civil War.’’ 19  While this action wasindeed significant, that monies wereallocated during the war effort to supportthe creation of a college for the deaf, it isimportant to note that because of thesuccession of 11 states from the Union,the true voice of the nation was not partof this decision.Upon Kendall’s death in 1869, only afew months after the College held its firstgraduation, his estate sold the adjoining81 acres of land to the institution for$85,000; the campus was now a full 100acres. 20 The larger campus allowed forexpansion and construction. At a January 29, 1871 dedication of Chapel Hall, USPresident Ulysses S. Grant and thenGeneral James A. Garfield spoke about the‘‘courage of the government’’ to fund theinstitution while the Country was at war with itself. 21 Gallaudet quoted Garfield assaying: ‘‘Congress took half a milliondollars from the public Treasury anddevoted it to this work—I hailed it as anobler expression of the faith and virtueof the American people, and of the  Advancing Gallaudet INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENT. VOL.5 NO.4 301–315  303 ª  HENRY STEWART PUBLICATIONS 2005. ISSN 1744-6511.  statesmanship of their representatives,than I ever before witnessed.’’ 22 Garfield continued this ‘‘nobleexpression’’ himself. The future USPresident had a continued interest in theCollege and its progress for the last 15 years of his life. One of Garfield’s greatestaccomplishments on behalf of theinstitution was securing the funds for thepurchase of the portion of the Kendallestate. Garfield helped raise $10,000 fromprivate subscriptions and successfully lobbied Congress for the remaining$70,000. 23  As a result of this Congressionalrelationship, Gallaudet’s situation,throughout its history and still today,closely resembled that of a serviceacademy. In addition to Federal fundingof the operating budget, students receivedCongressional appointments for study,diplomas hold the signature of thePresident of the United States in theposition of Patron of the University, andthe Federal General Services Administration is given the task of building the campus. 24 However, Congressional support of theCollege was not always as strong as it wasunder Kendall and Gallaudet. During theCollege’s second president’s tenure(Percival Hall 1910–45) Federal supportfell amid two world wars and theDepression. Congress, which supportedthe College generously during the warbetween the states, was hesitant to fundbuilding and at times even debated whether to continue the school or not. 25 This decreased funding made it difficultto expand the enrollment, faculty,curriculum, and physical plant. As aresult, President Hall consideredapproaching others for private funding.Nina Van Oss reported thiscontemplation in the  Gallaudet Alumni  Bulletin : ‘‘He [President Hall] felt that  if  the alumni could in some way interest   theFord, Rockefeller, Carnegie or suchfoundations in the College and obtaingrants to the College funds for expandingthe curriculum, research, and the like, asis done for other noteworthy anddeserving institutions, then much progresscould be made ... .’’ 26 That alumni werethought of first as those who could helpconnect the institution to the foundationsrather than as a form of support isevidence of the administration’sacknowledgement that their deaf alumni were not in a real position to support theinstitution. This fund-raising reliance oncorporations and foundations is evidenttoday. Alumni only made up 7.27 percentof the total income from private support while corporation and foundation giftsaccounted for 5.7 percent and 30.7percent respectively in fiscal year 2004. 27  While President Hall never saw thisconnection to foundations happen, hissuccessor, Leonard Elstad, did helpreconnect the institution with Congress.Soon after entering the presidency in1945, Elstad was told that Gallaudetneeded to become accredited by theMiddle States Association. The resultingreport commended the College on itsfaculty, students, and strategic plans, butfound that the College had inadequatefacilities. 28  Additionally, in 1949, theUnited States Office of Education and theFederal Security Agency (FSA), thedivision of the government that theCollege reported to at the time, decided toreview the College as well. The resultingreport,  The Federal Government and the  Higher Education of the Deaf   , was very positive. The study found that the Federalgovernment had an obligation to continuethe financing of postsecondary educationof the deaf simply because it was noteconomically possible for states to fundthis obligation. The report continued that INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENT. VOL.5 NO.4 301–315 304 ª  HENRY STEWART PUBLICATIONS 2005. ISSN 1744-6511. Noah D. Drezner  in order for Gallaudet to become a first- rate institution a stronger relationshipbetween the government and theinstitution would be necessary. 29 Inresponse to the two reports, FSA actingadministrator John L. Thurstonrecommended that Congress and theBureau of the Budget increase theirfunding and involvement in the College. 30  At a May 5, 1954 Congressional hearing,President Elstad used the results of eachreport to ask for increased support. Theresult was a new relationship between theFederal government and the College inthe passage of   Public Law 420   (83rdCongress of the United States). Through  Public Law 420  , Congress fundedincreased faculty, curricular development,and improvements to the physical plant. Additionally, the law officially changedthe name of the institution to GallaudetCollege. One example of the Federalgovernment’s increased involvement inGallaudet was the size of the annualbudgets appropriated to the college. InElstad’s first year, 1945, Congressappropriated $270,000. By 1969, asElstad left office the Federal appropriation was $6,900,000. 31 This was a 1,192percent increase after accounting forinflation. 32 The Federal government has only fully or majority supported a small number of institutions, including the military academies, Howard University, andGallaudet University. States have longsupported colleges and universities. 33  While Congressional support still remainsa large source of funding at Gallaudet,Federal support, like with many othergovernment-sponsored programs, hasdropped significantly (see Figure 1). In thefiscal year 2000 budget appropriationsfrom Congress only covered 70 percent of the institution’s costs. 34 The Departmentof Education has asked Gallaudet to bemore self-sufficient. Additionally,Congress has given a caveat to itssubvention; the institution must keep itstuition at an equivalent level to the land-  50.0%60.0%70.0%80.0%90.0%100.0%18501870189019101930195019701990 Federal appropriation as % of totalPoly. (Federal appropriation as % of total) Source:   Gallaudet University. Office of Budget, Administration and Finance. Annual Reports of Columbia Institute, Gallaudet College, and Gallaudet University and Congressional Budget Data. Note:   Cost associated with the Model Secondary School for the Deaf and the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School are included in the Federal appropriations. These institutions receive full funding from Congress. Figure 1: Federal appropriation to Gallaudet as percentage of total budget  Advancing Gallaudet INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENT. VOL.5 NO.4 301–315  305 ª  HENRY STEWART PUBLICATIONS 2005. ISSN 1744-6511.
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