Gallaudet University and Sorenson Communications Launch Strategic Partnership With a $3.5 Million Endowment Gift for the Center for Black Deaf Studies
Washington, D.C., June 10, 2022 – Gallaudet University and Sorenson Communications announced today a new strategic partnership that aims, through a series of progressive initiatives, to inspire and facilitate collaboration between people who are deaf as well as the prospective government, education, and Fortune 500/1000 companies who engage them. The short- and long-term goals of this partnership support a universal understanding of Deaf culture and the unique, diverse insights and experiences deaf and hard of hearing people add to organizations – and to the world.
The partnership begins with an endowment gift from Sorenson Communications that will support the growth of the Center for Black Deaf Studies, founded and directed by the renowned Black Deaf scholar, Dr. Carolyn D. McCaskill. The $3.5 million endowment will honor Kenneth Miller, a Black Deaf man who, as a child, was forced to attend school out of state until his mother, Louise B. Miller, filed suit against the District of Columbia Board of Education to allow him to be educated on the same campus as White Deaf students. This case, unheralded at the time, today is widely considered to be a precursor to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
This strategic partnership will feature an Accelerate Inclusive Excellence Symposium at Gallaudet on September 23, 2022, the International Day of Sign Languages. Gallaudet and Sorenson also will collaborate on additional strategic initiatives that will drive significant impact with a diversity focus, as well as job and career opportunities.
Gallaudet University President Roberta J. Cordano praised Sorenson’s commitment to education, innovation, health care, and community, and commended Sorenson’s ongoing efforts to improve the lives of people from every walk of life. “Sorenson Communications has long supported Gallaudet University, and we could not be more grateful. It is heartwarming for the entire Gallaudet community to experience first-hand that kindness and generosity prevail, and that we can all work together to make people and places better than we found them. We are especially pleased that Sorenson has chosen to support our Center for Black Deaf Studies, which, in just two years, has become a vibrant hub for education, research, and support for our Black Deaf students and the greater community.”
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Gallaudet. Sorenson’s focus on advancing human connection between Deaf and hearing people and our commitment to equal communication access, diversity, and inclusion aligns with the overall purpose of this partnership,” said Sorenson chief executive officer Jorge Rodriguez. “Through collaborative discussions with key professionals and industry thought leaders, we intend to demonstrate how integrating these values is intertwined with financial outcomes that are mutually beneficial to everyone in the ecosystem – students, employees, customers, suppliers, philanthropic supporters, and partners. We are fully invested in training the Black Deaf leaders of tomorrow.”
Dr. Carolyn D. McCaskill, Founding Director of the Center for Black Deaf Studies and professor of Deaf Studies, and Dr. Elizabeth A. Moore, Interim Chief Diversity Officer, are leading the creation of the Louise B. Miller Pathways and Gardens: A Legacy to Black Deaf Children, which honors the 23 students and four teachers of Kendall School Division II, a segregated school program of the early 1950s. Drs. McCaskill and Moore expressed their appreciation of the Sorenson donation, noting the company’s long-standing support of Gallaudet University.