Exclusive interviews with contemporary newsmakers                  

Roz Rosen
Administrator, advocate, and leader, she most enjoys being a teacher

Roslyn Goodstein was born deaf to deaf parents in the Bronx, New York. Her brother Harvey, also born deaf, is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Gallaudet University and a well-known leader and advocate in his own right. “My family was deaf, including my brother. We were born ‘signing.’ My parents also read books to us from the beginning, so we achieved bilingual literacy.” Growing up, she loved reading books and comic books.

Her schooling was at the rigorously oral Lexington School for the Deaf in Manhattan; she graduated in 1958. She says, “Lexington wasn’t coed past age 7 at that time. Likewise for Fanwood. So when my brother hit 7, he had to transfer to another school. He went for a little while to P.S. 47, then to Fanwood, from where he matriculated. (Lexington had girls only while Fanwood had boys only. Fanwood started admitting girls around 1955 or so. Lexington didn’t have boys older than 7 ‘til they moved from Manhattan to Queens.) Also remember that in those days Speech was King. All believed that if you had it, you’d have a much more wonderful, relevant, blessed life.
 
“Yes, Lexington was an oral school, but ASL was used everywhere else when the teacher ‘wasn’t looking.’”

At Gallaudet College, she majored in Art, earning her B.A. in 1962. “I am grateful for the enrichment opportunities at Gallaudet—culture, drama, connections, friends, and family.” Active in the Drama Club, she performed in several productions. “I enjoyed both Fall of Troy (Supporting Actress award) and Ten Little Indians (Best Actress), especially the opportunity to work with Gil Eastman and fabulous casts.”

She met her husband, Herbert Rosen, there. “Herb and I met and fell in love at first sight when I arrived at Gallaudet as a freshman. Three years later (1961) we were married—in the summer before my senior year. Gallaudet College was known as ‘The Happy Hunting Grounds’ in those days, before the women’s rights movement and before deaf female role models existed—my goal was to be a housewife like my mom and Herb’s mom. The world changed and we changed, and life is indeed good.” They have three children—Jeff and Suzy, who became attorneys, and Steve, who became an engineer. Roz and Herb are now the proud grandparents of nine!

Dr. Rosen earned her Master’s in Education of Deaf Students from Gallaudet in 1964, and her doctorate in Educational Administration from Catholic University in 1980.

She has been involved in teaching, sign-language education, captioning, telecommunications access, ASL advocacy, women’s rights, staunch advocate for human rights and self-determination, parenting issues, leadership—just about everything. She has published and presented extensively. Her first professional position was rehabilitation counselor at the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation in Washington, D.C. (1964-1966). She subsequently held a variety of jobs—including Captioned Films for the Deaf (1967-1976), Sign Communication Instructor for the Department of Education (1973-1975), P.L. 94-142 Coordinator at KDES and MSSD (1977-1978), Director of Kellogg/Gallaudet Special School of the Future (1978-1983), Professor in Gallaudet’s graduate-school Department of Administration and Supervision (1981-2004), Dean of the College for Continuing Education (1981-1993), and Vice President for Academic Affairs, or Provost (1993-1999), Gallaudet’s second-highest position. She was the first female Deaf Dean and first Deaf female provost.

She was elected to the NAD Board in 1980 and served as NAD President (1990-1993), Board Member of the World Federation of the Deaf 1995-2003, and was conferred a lifetime honorary Board membership when her term was up. She then served as the International Officer of WFD (2005-2006), and Executive Director of the Council on Education of the Deaf (2000-2006).

She has received honors from Gallaudet University, Jewish Deaf Congress, NAD, Deaf Women United, and WFD, to name a few. She says, “I especially cherish the NAD and WFD awards--I am committed to giving back to the community through volunteer advocacy efforts and when I am recognized for it, it’s like icing on the cake.”

On September 6, 2006, CSUN announced Dr. Rosen’s appointment as Director of NCOD, serving some 200 deaf students. (An estimated 1,000 of CSUN's total enrollment of 36,000 are signers.) She took over from Interim Director Gary Sanderson, who has remained as Special Projects Coordinator. Her responsibilities are manifold; she “directs the daily operation of a comprehensive support-services program, which includes academic advising, student development, direct communication courses, freshman year experience seminars, career planning, student organizations and leadership training, and support services such as interpreting, note taking, and captioning.” She also does fundraising for CSUN and teaches part-time, too.

On her portrayal in mainstream media: “I was on the CBS’s 60 Minutes show as NAD President, [commenting] on cochlear implants. I was promised a fair, balanced show featuring both sides. But I sort of got relegated to the role of the Wicked Witch of the West when the show was pieced together. Rocky Stone, my friend, founder and director of SHHH, said to me, ‘Roz, sorry about what happened. I’ve learned to never give interviews without prior agreement that I’d have the right to review/revise or to only go “live” where they can’t take you out of context.’ A valuable lesson I’ve learned the hard way!”

On deaf children’s language rights: “Nowadays my stance on pediatric cochlear implants as well as the NAD’s has changed. My position now is that technological advances may be formidable but these are not ultimate panaceas. Paramount is the deaf child’s birthright and human right to language, i.e., ASL and English. To deny that right is tantamount to language deprivation, pure and simple. How ironic it is that hearing parents are signing to hearing babies to give them a headstart in life?! Research shows that sign language does not harm, in fact, does enhance, speech development. Linguistic human rights are embodied in policy statements of the WFD and UN. In short, we should look beyond cochleas to community—based on language(s), culture, respect, and empowerment.”
 
On teaching at GU and CSUN: “I chose to become a teacher (part of the creative ham in me?) and that's where my heart always is—with the students and limitless potential. I derive so much energy from them. I became an administrator/leader/advocate because I wanted to do more for the students but I keep grounded by frequent meetings, interactions and courses with them.”

 

* “Catherine Ingold [hearing] was the first female provost. Ann Davidson-Powell was the first African-American provost. Harvey Corson was the first deaf provost. And I was the third provost appointed by Dr. Jordan during his first five years.”

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