June 18, 2020 

To: Isidore Niyongabo,
President National Black Deaf Advocates 

Subject: An Open Letter Addressing Concerns for Black Deaf Individuals at Gallaudet University

Dear Mr. Niyongabo,

We first want to acknowledge your recent open letter to the Gallaudet Board of Trustees. The Gallaudet community holds great respect for National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA), our Trustees included, and we take your concerns very seriously and very much to heart. 

We also want to assure you and everyone at NBDA that the Gallaudet Board of Trustees, President Roberta J. Cordano and the Gallaudet Executive Leadership are fully committed to and already taking meaningful action to dismantle racism and the systems that have supported it for far too long. While many of the specifics of this action have not yet become fully public they will very soon and we assure you they will examine and strive to address many of the concerns NBDA and others have raised in recent weeks. 

While our Board fully supports President Cordano and the work she and her Executive Leadership are doing right now to immediately address the concerns and requests made in the student petition and in your letter, we can assure you that the Gallaudet Board of Trustees is holding President Cordano and her team fully accountable for action, progress and transparency. Also, President Cordano has communicated publicly her acknowledgment of the student petition and that she and her team will address those recommendations for systemic change in forthcoming communications, many of which you addressed in your letter. 

We are keenly aware of the need for urgency on Gallaudet action. We assure the NBDA and others that swift action is being taken and we are looking deeply and carefully into the concerns that you have raised in order to achieve substantive resolutions and change. 

The Gallaudet Board of Trustees fully supports Black Lives Matter and we welcome continuing dialogue with you and others to ensure the transformation of Gallaudet University to become the undeniable and shining model of access, education, inclusion and equality. 

Your committed partner in positive change, 

The Gallaudet Board of Trustees 

CC: Ms. Roberta J, Cordano, Gallaudet University President
Chair, Faculty of Color Coalition
Chair, Faculty Senate
Chair, Gallaudet Staff Council Ms. Brianne Burger, Director/Liaison of the Office of Special Institutions, US Department of Education
Open letter from NBDA
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