Dr. Isaac O. Agboola, Dean of the School of Education, Business, and Human Services, passed away on Wednesday, February 22, at the age of 60…With his passing, the University, the Deaf community, and the international Deaf community have lost a veritable icon.
Isaac Olubunmi Agboola was born in Nigeria. As a young deaf person, he was heavily influenced by Dr. Andrew J. Foster, ’54 & H-’70, who founded 31 deaf schools across the African continent. According to an article on the Gallaudet web site by Phil Dignan of the Office of University Communications, “[Isaac] Agboola first met Foster in 1971 while attending the Ibadan Mission School for the Deaf (IMSD) in Nigeria. He also worked in Dr. Foster’s mission office in Ibadan as an administrative clerk, describing this as “inspiring” since he sat two seats away. “The opportunity to attend [Dr. Foster’s] school enabled me to resume my education. It is highly unlikely that I would have achieved as much as I have if he had not established a mission school in Nigeria,” said Agboola at the time.
Dr. Agboola came to Gallaudet in the fall of 1978, and completed his bachelor’s degree in three years, graduating summa cum laude in 1981. He went on to earn a Master of Business Administration degree at Gallaudet in 1983, and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Information Systems at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1998.
Dr. Agboola joined the University faculty in the Department of Business in 1984. He served as department chair from 2003 to 2007. In 2007, he was appointed Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Sciences, and Technologies (CLAST), and served in that role until being named Interim Dean of the newly-created School of Education, Business, and Human Services (SEBHS) in 2013, and permanent Dean in 2016. He had a long, distinguished history as a faculty member and dean. He led or participated in several strategic planning efforts and accreditation reviews, and led curriculum reform in the business disciplines, including what is now the Information Technology major in the Department of Science, Technology, and Mathematics. Most recently, he was involved in the creation of our new Risk Management and Insurance major. He also was instrumental in the transformation of our general education program to a formal, more intentional, outcomes-based General Studies Program.
Dr. Agboola was principal investigator for several grant-funded projects, including a grant from the Microsoft Foundation to develop a computer training program for deaf and hard of hearing students, and a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Business and International Education Program to internationalize our business curriculum. He was also co-principal investigator, in collaboration with partners at George Washington University, Marymount University, and the University of the District of Columbia, of a National Science Foundation planning grant to increase the number of underrepresented minorities (URM) in graduate STEM disciplines.
In the community, Dr. Agboola served on the Board of Directors of the American School for the Deaf (ASD) from 2008 to 2014. He was a current member of the ASD Board of Corporators. Dr. Agboola was a former board member and treasurer of the Gallaudet University Alumni Association, and a member and secretary of the Maryland Governor’s Advisory Board for Telecommunications Relay. He also served as workshop chair for three National Black Deaf Advocates national conferences, and as co-chair of the Linwood Smith Scholarship Committee.
Dr. Agboola and I worked together as colleagues since 2007 when we were named interim deans of the College of Liberal Arts, Sciences, and Technologies and the Graduate School and Professional Programs respectively. He was devoted to Gallaudet and to our students, and was, in many ways, far ahead of the times, forecasting trends in his field of information technology and in pedagogy; always thinking how we could best prepare our students for their future lives and careers. He was…a person of high moral fiber. He was a scholar in every sense of the word, and a gifted writer and presenter. Everyone who knew him will remember his broad smile and how merrily he laughed; how he could appear stern one moment and self-deprecating the next. Dean Agboola was one of the finest individuals I have ever known. We have lost a friend, a colleague, a teacher, a leader, and a devoted alumnus of Gallaudet.
Dr. Carol Erting, Provost
(Excerpted from memo sent to the Gallaudet community on Feb. 23, 2017)
Video produced by Gallaudet University Video Services
Video Editor: Hoon Jeong
After Effects: Hoon Jeong
Audio: Patrick Harris
Voiceover: Yvan Cator (for Isaac Agboola)
Photography: Bilal Chinoy, Zhee Chatmon
Producer: Teresa Ezzell
Special thanks to Julie Agboola, Larry Musa, Khadijat Rashid, Prince Babatunde Raphael Obawale and the Nigerian Deaf community