Deaf Program Loses Autonomy Pending Audit


The formerly independent National Center on Deafness at Cal State Northridge will become part of the university's School of Education--temporarily while the center's books are audited, and perhaps permanently, campus administrators said Monday.

Center Director Victor H. Galloway resigned last Thursday at the request of university officials, who accused him of mismanaging the budget for the 227-student center. Most of the 1989-90 budget, estimated at $1.2 million from state and federal government sources, has been spent just six weeks into the second semester.

The shortfall was not discovered until two weeks ago, when students protested shortages in sign-language interpreters and note-takers, because Galloway was the only university official who reviewed the center's complete budget, said Bob Suzuki, vice president of academic affairs for the university.

"We will probably want to build in more of a review process in the future," Suzuki said. "What we are contemplating right now is moving the center under a school where they would have a check and balance."

The most likely candidate for a permanent affiliation, Suzuki said, is the School of Education, which already has a deaf-studies program. The school emphasizes teaching and the problems of the deaf. The center provides services to help deaf students attend college with students who are not deaf.

Although reasons for the budget shortfall will not be known until an internal audit is completed next week, Suzuki said increasing demands by deaf student coupled with a stagnant state budget helped throw the school into bad financial straits.

He also confirmed that the auditors will be looking at staff hired by Galloway, including workers for the center's new library.

Students said Monday they believed Galloway had hired administrative support staff at the expense of interpreters and other student services.

University President James W. Cleary said Monday he will release $35,000 in state lottery money, set aside for emergencies, to guarantee students full services through the end of the semester, said spokeswoman Ann Salisbury.

Through the center, CSUN has developed the largest program at any U.S. college for enrolling deaf students in mainstream classes.

Several deaf students who gathered Monday afternoon in the lounge of the center's 1-year-old, $2.7-million Jeanne M. Chisholm Hall said they had attended classes without interpreters for the first two weeks of this semester.

Lisa Herberger, 20, said she had to beg hearing students in her political science class to share their notes. She worried about falling behind.

"I don't have very much hearing and I rely heavily on the interpreters," Herberger said. "Without them I can't participate fully."

Education Dean Carolyn Ellner said Cleary asked her last Wednesday to take over the center's administration until a decision on its future is reached. Ellner said she did not yet know how her responsibilities would mesh with those of Herb Larson, the center's administrator of support services. He was appointed acting director after Galloway resigned.

Ellner said the National Center on Deafness is one of the few centers not already attached to a school or department.

Larson said he hoped that becoming part of the School of Education--if that arrangement becomes permanent--would be the best solution. Students seemed confused about the impact of such a change. Other observers, including Marcella M. Meyer, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles Council on Deafness, expressed concern about the change because of fundamental differences in philosophy between the deaf community and the department's deaf-studies program.

Ellner said the differences revolve around education school courses in deaf studies, which emphasize the existence of a separate deaf culture with its own sign language. That idea is unpopular with many deaf people.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World