YNN interviews National Technical Institute for the Deaf president Alan Hurwitz about his decision to leave Rochester Institute of Technology to join Gallaudet University as its new president.
There is mixed emotion on the campus of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT. The school's president, Alan Hurwitz, announced over the weekend that he is leaving at the end of the year.
After 40 years at NTID, Alan Hurwitz wasn't looking for a new job.
"I had planned to make this actually my last position," says Hurwitz through an interpreter.
But then Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. began a search for its next president.
"They contacted me four or five times and each time I said 'no'," says Hurwitz. "Thank you, but no."
Eventually they convinced him to meet and put him on the short list.
Like NTID, Gallaudet is a well known school for the deaf and hard of hearing. But NTID is a technical university and one of eight colleges that make up the larger RIT.
"Gallaudet is a stand alone university," says Hurwitz. "It is primarily a premiere liberal arts university."
Over the weekend, Hurwitz and his wife were introduced to the Gallaudet community.
"Everyone stood up and was applauding," says Hurwitz. "We were just so touched."
Especially after Gallaudet's previous searches. In 2006 students, faculty and alumni staged campus protests about a presidential choice. In 1988 protestors formed the "Deaf President Now" movement, after numerous presidents who were not deaf.
"I think in comparison to previous search processes I think this was a very very transparent process," says Hurwitz.
In his 11 years as the head of NTID, Hurwitz says he's proud of the new outreach programs for high schoolers and even middle schoolers, as well as stronger ties with RIT's other colleges.
"That allow our students to be able to get a solid foundation to prepare themselves for their baccalaureate studies," says Hurwitz.
Hurwitz says another one of his major accomplishments is the school's student development center. It's not just a place for academics, but also social development, including a coffee bar, food court, meeting spaces, and rooms for student activities.
"I think Rochester, if not the best is one of the most deaf friendly towns," says Hurwitz.
The town where he and his wife raised their kids. A place he says they'll miss.
"I think reality's starting to hit me now, but I'm very excited about this opportunity," says Hurwitz. "My wife and I are both very much looking forward to it."
On Monday RIT announced that Professor James DeCaro will serve as interim president for one year while a national search is conducted for a permanent replacement. Hurwitz will stay on board until December to ease the transition.
Date Added: October 21st, 2009