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The University Magazine

New biography chronicles former NTID leader’s life

University Magazine - Spring 2008 Image

A biography of Robert R. Davila, who overcame poverty to become a national leader in education and a role model for Hispanic youth, is now available from RIT Press.

Moments of Truth - Robert R. Davila: The Story of a Deaf Leader, tells how Davila, the son of a migrant farm worker, became assistant secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services for the U.S. Department of Education, the highest-ranking federal government position ever held by a deaf person. He served as president of several major organizations serving deaf people and was the first deaf CEO of NTID. He is now president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

Upon his retirement in 2004 from RIT/NTID, Davila said he was taken by surprise to learn that his biography would be written. “I was, frankly, flabbergasted,” Davila says. “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.”

The book was authored by lead writer Harry Lang, a faculty member in the Department of Research and Teacher Education at RIT/NTID; Oscar Cohen, a former superintendent and CEO at Lexington School & Center for the Deaf in New York City; and Joseph E. Fischgrund, headmaster of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia. It was commissioned by now-retired RIT President Albert J. Simone, who called the story “both inspirational and motivational.”

Moments of Truth – Robert R. Davila is available in paperback ($18) or hard cover ($26) at RIT’s Campus Connections bookstore, through the RIT Press Web site ( and at

Greg Livadas