City Desk

Gallaudet University Wants Its Diplomas Back

It's Presidents Day, and Gallaudet University is asking its alumni to give their diplomas back (but presumably keep their degrees) to help the school celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2014. Apparently, "As a federally chartered institution, the President of the United States is the patron of the university, which is why every sitting president has signed the diplomas of Gallaudet graduates."

Donated diplomas will live online and in the Gallaudet Archives.

Full release after the jump:

Gallaudet University Seeking Diplomas on President's Day
Gallaudet alumni are asked to donate their diplomas for 150th Anniversary Celebration to help preserve deaf history

Washington, D.C. – February 20, 2012 – As we all celebrate President's Day, Gallaudet University is celebrating by calling on its alumni around the world to donate their diplomas to commemorate the university's 150th anniversary. The diplomas will be featured in an online display and in the Gallaudet Archives to preserve deaf history.

The unique tradition of U.S. Presidents signing Gallaudet University diplomas started in 1869; five years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the charter which authorized the institution to confer college degrees. Edward Miner Gallaudet, Gallaudet's founder and first president, presided over the first commencement where three young men received their diplomas, signed by President Ulysses S. Grant. As a federally chartered institution, the President of the United States is the patron of the university, which is why every sitting president has signed the diplomas of Gallaudet graduates.

"This tradition is special to Gallaudet University alumni," said Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz. "By collecting the signed diplomas, we are helping preserve history and maintain an accurate representation of each of Gallaudet's 142 graduating classes. It's a fascinating way to see how Gallaudet has evolved over the years."

The diplomas are requested in preparation for 2014, when Gallaudet reaches an impressive milestone: its 150th anniversary. Sesquicentennial activities are scheduled for July 9-13, 2014 and will include a historical reflection of the University's past and growth as well as celebrations of the impact Gallaudet students and alumni have made and continue to make on the world.

Even though the celebration is two years away, planning has begun and the diplomas are a large part of the historical preservation of Gallaudet University. Diplomas from every graduating class are needed and there is a small collection already in the Gallaudet Archives. Recently, the children of Alice Ruth Campbell, Class of 1930, donated her diploma, which was the first donated under this new request. All of her children are Gallaudet alumni: Franklyn Amann, class of '64; Astrid Amann Goodstein, class of '65; and Paula Amann Chance, class of '67. The diploma, which is on sheepskin, was presented by Astrid's husband, Dr. Harvey Goodstein class of '65, while at Gallaudet University where he serves as the Vice Chair on the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees. The diploma was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Please click here to see the online display of donated diplomas. To give a diploma, please email

Image via Gallaudet University

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  • Dizzy

    That's not 'exactly' right. Georgetown is also "a federally chartered institution," insofar as its Charter also comes from Congress and was signed into law by POTUS - see

    I am aware of no patron-like relationship between the President of the United States and GU, and the President's signature certainly doesn't appear on GU diplomas.

  • Shani Hilton

    @Dizzy, true. I think maybe Edward Miner Gallaudet just had the hook up.

  • Dizzy

    Indeed. Perhaps thanks to the influence of Amos Kendall? I guess back in the day, the Postmaster General was a kind of a big deal.