Robert R. Davila, Ph.D.

Education
B.A. in Education,
  Gallaudet University, 1953
M.S. in Special Education,
  Hunter College, 1963
Ph.D. in Educational Technology,
  Syracuse University, 1972

Through his recent appointment by President George W. Bush and confirmation by the U.S. Senate to serve on the National Council on Disability, Robert R. Davila, 70, continues to demonstrate his unwavering commitment to disability advocacy.

Being first has been the rule, not the exception, throughout Davila's career. He is the first and only deaf person to have held the coveted post of assistant secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services when former President George Bush appointed him in 1989. There he managed a $5 billion budget to support special education and vocational rehab programs, monitored states for compliance, improved parent and family education, and prioritized key programs for the nation's 43 million people with disabilities. He came to RIT after serving as the first deaf headmaster in the 180-year history of the New York School for the Deaf and becoming the first deaf member of the school's board of trustees.

Dr. Davila served as the first deaf CEO of RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf since 1996. Dr. Davila successfully led NTID's first private fund raising campaign, securing $11.5 million to bolster scholarship funds, enhance technology, further research and development efforts, and support special programs. He also secured funding through the George Soros Foundation for a model program supporting deaf students in Eastern Europe, and a five-year grant from The Nippon Foundation, Tokyo, to help countries develop postsecondary education programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Dr. Davila has provided support to further the progress of the leading research effort on age-related hearing loss conducted at the International Center on Hearing and Speech Research, which is headquartered at NTID.

Throughout his career, Dr. Davila has been advocating for the rights of disabled people around the world. From 1978 to 1989 he held several positions at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., including vice president of pre-college programs, professor in the department of education, and dean.

Dr. Davila's service includes:

the first deaf person to serve as president of the Council on Education of the Deaf, the Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf, and the Conference of Educational Administrators Serving the Deaf. He is one of only two individuals to be-come the president of these three major education organizations in deafness.
In 1996, he was appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to serve a four-year term on the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders Advisory Council at the National Institutes of Health.
He is also a member of the Universal Design Committee of Verizon Telephone Company and a board member of the National Theatre of the Deaf.
He recently served on the program advisory committee of the Special Education Administrator's Training Leadership Academy of the state Education Department and on the New York State Rehabilitation Council, as well as the advisory board of the Institute for Disabilities Research and Training.
He is currently Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Hillside Children's Center
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the New York School for the Deaf in White Plains.

He has also received honorary doctorates from RIT, Stonehill College in Massachusetts, Hunter College in New York City, and Gallaudet University. He was elected to the Hall of Fame for Persons with Disabilities in 1987 and to the Hunter College Alumni Hall of Fame in 1991.

Dr. Davila has had extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. He has been called on to testify before Congress on issues related to special education and rehabilitation services, as well as on matters related to deafness. He has given numerous presentations to professional organizations about circumstances regarding the rights of Americans with disabilities, including the keynote address at the July, 2000, International Congress on Education of the Deaf in Sydney, Australia.

After retiring from NTID/RIT in 2003, Dr. Davila joined the CSD Board of Directors. He would remain on the board until July 2004 when he joined the CSD Executive Team as CSD's Senior Vice President. He was in charge of National Programs and Marketing before becoming special assistant to the CEO.  Dr. Davia retired from CSD in December 2005. 

One year later, Dr. Davila was appointed by the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University as the institution's 9th President.

 

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