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Jordan: Fernandes Was 'Outstanding Prospect'

Outgoing Gallaudet President I. King Jordan in NPR's Washington studios.
Jacques Coughlin/NPR /
Outgoing Gallaudet President I. King Jordan in NPR's Washington studios.

In his first interview since student protests locked down the nation's only college for the deaf and hearing-impaired, the outgoing president of Gallaudet University decried the "divisive" tone of the demonstrations, and expressed disappointment at the outcome.

"It seemed to be against something instead of a protest for a reason or a cause," I. King Jordan said Wednesday. "It was against an individual, and that's why it was so divisive."

The protests ended with Gallaudet's decision to nullify the appointment of Jane Fernandes as the school's next president.

Among the students' complaints: Jordan groomed Fernandes as his successor, making the selection process less than open.

Jordan said he disagrees with that view.

"I'm very proud that I was her mentor," Jordan said. "She was an outstanding prospect and she was very highly qualified to be a president. I regret she wasn't given the chance."

In a wide-ranging discussion led by Neal Conan, Jordan also discussed his legacy as the first deaf president of the institution and touched on issues facing the deaf community today, including technological advancements such as cochlear implants and digital hearing aids.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.