President Abraham Lincoln signed a Congressional Charter 150 years ago Tuesday, allowing Gallaudet University to confer college degrees. It was a monumental shift in how the country viewed the deaf community.
Over the decades, there have been many evolutions and revolutions at Gallaudet. This week, the school is celebrating its anniversary and its history.
To mark the milestone, current and former students planted a white oak tree on campus – that will grow 90 feet in the air.
Student organizer Keith Doane said, “We wanted to measure history, not only of the past 150 years to now, but 150 years in the future as well.”
The school also celebrated the opening of a museum, looking back at 15 decades of deaf culture.
The exhibit includes background on Gallaudet's founding, desegregation, the Deaf President Now protests and campus life – then and now.
University President Alan Hurwitz said Gallaudet's legacy and its promise to students is that they can do anything.
Hurwitz predicts we'll soon see Americans elect the first deaf member of Congress.
“Students can now become anything they wish. Doctors, attorneys, and they will be going into more and diverse areas,” he said.
Gallaudet will celebrate its 150th anniversary with events throughout the year, including a campus reunion in July.