Friday, May 23, 2008

Reconsideration of AGBell Name

On 5/23/08 10:00 PM, "Alan Hurwitz" wrote:

Colleagues and Students:

As we move into the open forum regarding the AGBell name on our dormitory (June 4, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. CSD Student Development Center, room 1300), and the additional open discussions planned for later dates on this issue, I want to share my thinking regarding the name. As you know from my previous communications, I leaned heavily on the report of the working group, a report I circulated to all of you previously.

In responding to my first charge to the group (“Decide if the Bell name is or is not appropriate …”), the report stated:

“The range of perspectives within the working group was varied and divided… however there was a majority in favor of removing the name (8 to 6). The group could not reach a consensus…a thoughtful, considerate and conscientious group of people found that they could not agree.”

Based on that lack of consensus the decision I made was to leave the name on the dormitory, but to remove and replace the plaque with one that had more appropriate wording. I believe my decision at that time was consistent with the working group report.

I also announced that we will post a statement – through a plaque in a prominent location or with some other appropriate media – of the NTID values and philosophy regarding communications. Our community has always provided a welcome environment in which we strive to accommodate all students and others no matter what their communication approach or philosophy; we want those views reflected in this new posting.

Since the release of my decision I have heard from an extremely large number of individuals. All demonstrated in their own way – no matter what their position – a willingness to take a risk, to overcome a hesitance to communicate, and to open themselves for criticism. I can only thank all of those who have become involved in this decision to date.

I find that I should have waited to make my decision until I could benefit from a wider discussion with my constituency. For that reason I will withdraw my decision to leave the AGBell name on the building and will make a decision instead after these open meetings take place. I always benefit from communicating with others, and on this important decision I realize that I missed that step in the decision-making process.

For that reason I will wait on a final decision until after the June open meeting and until after the June meeting with alums. I will also find an appropriate method to allow for student input. I welcome and will attend to comments on this entire issue, and specifically on the appropriateness of the two choices below – or other suggestions that might arise:

1. Leave the AGBell name on the building and attach a reworded plaque.

2. Remove the AGBell name from the building. (Renaming the building would be considered at a later date, and would follow RIT procedures.)

I know we have a community that embraces tolerance and diversity of opinion; for me this means that we will all emerge from this process the better for it.

Warmly and respectfully,



Anonymous said...

Dr. Hurwitz

Thank you very much for taking this step

I admire you and thank you for doing this


Patti Durr

Anonymous said...

Allright, let's make it official, REMOVE IT. Please don't "talk talk talk".

Just do it. (Nike's slogan)

Anonymous said...

I. King Jordan removed Alice Cogswells name from the dorm at Gallaudet a few years ago. Also, renamed Krug hall. So there is precedent for this. It can and should be done.

James Northcutt said...

Dr. Hurwitz

Thank you for taking the time to sit back and weight on your reconsideration of the AGBell Name. My answer is #2 of removing it and renaming the dorm at a later time. My decision is pure and simple.I recalled the time while being a student at RIT/NTID we had this RIT 150th Anniversary. I think it was 1980. RIT honored 5 plaques naming Lyndon B Johnson, Hettie Shumway, Mark Ellingston, Peter Peterson, and this Alexander G Bell. What bothered me the most of who this AGBell was and why he was honored at that time. History taught us he invented the telephone and had a deaf wife. That was it at that time. The other 4 plaques honored make senses to the RIT/NTID Communities.

While reading all the issues related to this AGBell plaque, my mind traveled back in time as a student at RIT/NTID. My thought indicated that Dr. William Castles may have recommended this AG Bell into the honoree to the RIT Board of Trustee. His being Vice-President of NTID and possibility President of the AG Bell Association may lead this to have it honored. I could be wrong. That was when I begin to understand of how he represent AG Bell Association. His less of signing and more of speaking lead me to believe the start of AGBell on NTID campus has begun.

Dr. Hurwitz, I know for a mere fact as President of NSC during my tenure there, I had issues related to the newly ODAS (Oral Deaf Adult Section). You may recall I had a debation with Dr. Castles on this ODAS organization trying to level with NSC. I ordered my NSC Board Members out of that meeting. That was my issue back then. I will not bring back time as this issue today is about the plaque.

Bottom line here is I think we need to come up with a plaque name that will always be a contributor, supportive and well represent to the RIT/NTID Communities as well the alumnus.

During the 40th NTID Reunion coming up shortly will be a good fit to discuss this recommendation.

Again, I select #2.

Thank you!

SVP '77 / Alumni of "81
NSC President '80/"81

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