The turning point of a “landmark episode” for deaf people happened in a small hotel room, as I. King Jordan, the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, tells it. Jordan, four students, and Elisabeth Zinser, the hearing person who had been named president of Gallaudet earlier that week, gathered in a small room with just one chair and one bed on March 9, 1988, because students refused to let Zinser onto campus amid protests and class boycotts. And it was in that hotel room that one of the students, according to Jordan, said to Zinser, “‘You will never be Gallaudet’s president. Never.”
The next day, Zinser resigned, and four days later, Gallaudet’s Board of Trustees named Jordan the new president.
Twenty-five years later, the university is celebrating the “Deaf President Now” movement with a series of panels and discussions. The first panel, held at Gallaudet on Tuesday, featured the first three deaf presidents – Jordan, Robert Davila, and current president T. Alan Hurwitz – and a discussion of the legacy DPN, as many here call the movement, has left, both for the campus and for deaf people far from here.