Former NTID leader’s story provides ‘inspiration to all’
Feb. 7, 2008
by Greg Livadas
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RIT Press has published Moments of Truth—Robert R. Davila: The Story of a Deaf Leader, a biography of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s first deaf chief executive officer, who overcame poverty to become a national leader in education and a role model for Hispanic youth.
Davila, the first deaf Hispanic to earn a doctorate degree, became CEO of NTID in 1996, a position he held until his retirement in 2004. Albert Simone, who was RIT president at the time, commissioned the biography, saying Davila’s story was “both inspirational and motivational.”
Davila is now president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.
“I was, frankly, flabbergasted,” he said upon learning his biography would be written. “I had not considered then what value or impact my life’s examples might have on people. Now that the book is out, I realize that its greatest value is in its potential to inspire and motivate young deaf and hard-of-hearing students to strive for high achievements.”
Former President George Bush, who in 1989 appointed Davila as assistant secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services for the U.S. Department of Education, provided an endorsement of the biography, saying Davila remains “an inspiration to all who know him. His story is proof that hard work, determination and courage can overcome even life’s toughest challenges.”
Alan Hurwitz, NTID’s current CEO, and dean and vice president of RIT for NTID, called Davila
“a remarkable leader and an inspiration.”
The book was written by lead author Harry Lang, a faculty member in NTID’s Department of Research and Teacher Education, with Oscar Cohen and Joseph Fischgrund, active in education for deaf students in New York City and Philadelphia.
“We quickly realized, especially after researching Bob’s early life experiences in the barrio, that his biography revealed a sense of resilience parents and teachers would want to see in all children faced with similar challenges,” Lang says. “That potential for inspiring other children was the primary ‘perk’ in writing this book. It recommitted the teacher in each of us.”
Moments of Truth—Robert R. Davila: The Story of a Deaf Leader, is available in paperback or hard cover at RIT’s Campus Connections bookstore, the RIT Press Web site at carypress.rit.edu and at