School of Ed alumnus named Gallaudet interim president
School of Ed alumnus named Gallaudet interim president December 13, 2006Patrick Farrellpmfarrel@syr.edu
Syracuse University alumnus Robert Davila G’72 has been named interim president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Davila, 74, a nationally known deaf leader, returned from retirement to take the helm at Gallaudet, which has experienced a period of unrest over its last presidential appointment.
Davila will serve as interim president for no less than 18 months beginning on Jan. 2. He will face a range of divisive issues at Gallaudet, including racial tensions and debates over the importance of American Sign Language to the school. The university also is under close scrutiny by both the federal government, which provides about two-thirds of its funding, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education because of declining graduation rates.
Davila is the child of migrant farm workers who became a teacher, administrator and assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. After graduating from Gallaudet in 1953, Davila began his career in teaching. He earned a master’s degree at Hunter College, then went on to Syracuse University’s School of Education, where he earned a doctorate in instructional design, development and evaluation. After teaching at Gallaudet for 17 years, Davila accepted an appointment as assistant secretary of education in the first Bush administration. From 1996-2004, he served as vice president of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology.