Wilder executive to lead Gallaudet, takes office in 2016

Bobbi CordanoA leader with Minnesota ties will become the next president of Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier university for the deaf and hearing-impaired. Bobbi Cordano, vice president of programs for the St. Paul-based Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, will take the helm at Gallaudet in January.

In an announcement from Gallaudet, Cordano stated, “I want to thank the entire community for making me feel welcome throughout this selection process. There is no other place like this in the world and I’m honored to have been chosen to lead and serve this unique, one-of-a-kind university. With Gallaudet’s world-class researchers and faculty, innovative academic programs, a motivated, ambitious student body, and a dedicated staff that serves all institutional needs, there is great promise to develop and graduate future leaders who will make significant
contributions to our country and the world. I look forward to working with the entire university on the transition process over the next several months.”

Cordano currently oversees a $20 million annual budget for Wilder programs serving children, families, social services, aging communities and more. She leaves Minnesota with a long list of accomplishments. She is a founding member of Metro Deaf School, a pre-k through eighth grade, a bilingual-bicultural charter school for deaf and hard of hearing children in St. Paul, and a founding board member of Minnesota North Star Academy, a bilingual-bicultural charter high school for deaf and hard of hearing students. In 2003, Cordano, along with Vice President Walter Mondale and former Gov. Elmer A. Anderson, was a recipient of the inaugural Public Leadership Award from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Cordano will be the 11th president of the historic university located about a mile from the capitol, known internationally as a model of education and research. Its federal charter was signed in 1864 by President Abraham Lincoln. Her parents are Gallaudet alumni. Cordano holds degrees from Beloit College and the University of Wisconsin Law School.

“This is a job I feel like I’ve been preparing for my whole career,” said Cordano, who also is hard of hearing. She succeeds T. Alan Hurwitz, who is retiring as Gallaudet’s president at year’s end. She and her family will move into the Gallaudet president’s Victorian home next year, where she will oversee a university serving about 1,700 students.

Cordano has already launched a social media campaign to crank up her profile with a “Get Your Selfie with President Cordano” Twitter campaign, hashtag #Bobbi4GU.

One key focus for Cordano will be the future direction of Gallaudet. Another is the need to address the shortage of specialized education services nationwide for students who are deaf and hear-impaired.