Gallaudet University President “Expects” Diversity Officer Will Be Able To Stay

The school’s chief diversity office, Dr. Angela McCaskill, was suspended for signing a petition to put Maryland’s marriage equality law up for a referendum vote. posted on

Today, Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz said in a statement that he “would like to work with [the school’s] Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Angela McCaskill, to enable her to return to the community from her administrative leave.”

McCaskill was placed on administrative leave from the nation’s leading college for the deaf and hard of hearing this past week after it was discovered that she, as a Maryland resident, had signed a petition seeking to have the state’s marriage equality law put up to a referendum vote.

The statement comes just hours before a news conference is scheduled to take place with McCaskill and her lawyer, J. Wyndal Gordon, in Annapolis.

Hurwitz today notes, “I expect that a resolution of this matter can be reached that will enable Dr. McCaskill to continue as our Chief Diversity Officer.” Acknowledging the outside attention the move has received, he added, “While this has become an issue beyond our campus, as President of Gallaudet University, my number one concern is our university community — our students, faculty and staff and so many others who support us.”

McCaskill’s lawyer told BuzzFeed on Monday that he is expecting to meet with university officials later this week.

Read the full Gallaudet statement from Hurwitz:

I am sending this communication to indicate forcefully that Gallaudet University would like to work with its Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Angela McCaskill, to enable her to return to the community from her administrative leave.

As many know, Dr. McCaskill exercised her right to sign a petition concerning legislation on gay marriage. Because of her position at Gallaudet as our Chief Diversity Officer, many individuals at our university were understandably concerned and confused by her action. They wanted to know “does that action interfere with her ability to perform her job?”

I placed her on paid administrative leave as a prudent action to allow the university — and Dr. McCaskill - the time to consider this question after the emotions of first reactions subsided. While this has become an issue beyond our campus, as President of Gallaudet University, my number one concern is our university community - our students, faculty and staff and so many others who support us. I act on their behalf, not with any agenda other than their well-being as all of us work to prepare these university students for the future. While I expect that a resolution of this matter can be reached that will enable Dr. McCaskill to continue as our Chief Diversity Officer, this will require that she and the University community work together to respond to the concerns that have been raised.

My practice, which I will continue, is to reach out to the campus community to ensure that we are acting with their best interests in mind. To accomplish that, dialogs among those with differing views are common on our campus as a way of fostering understanding of the opinions, and the individuals holding them, which are different from ours.

I have complete confidence that the community will emerge stronger because of this situation. In particular, I am incredibly proud of our students - as well as our faculty and staff — who have shown maturity and restraint under the pressures of the complexities of the situation.

Dr. McCaskill has been, and can continue to be, a valued member of this community and we are very much interested in working with everyone to come to a shared understanding in an environment that allows the community to rebound and move forward.

Each of us would benefit from remembering that everyone should be treated with civility and respect as we work together to create a positive and welcoming environment that is open to the free exchange of ideas and the acceptance of others who may hold views that differ from ours.

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