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January 15, 2019

Letter of Support: Dr. Raychelle Harris

Dear Dr. Kelly and the Committee on Tenure & Promotion,

It is my pleasure to write a letter in support of Raychelle Harris’ bid for promotion at Gallaudet
University in the Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies. Her scholarship,
teaching, service, and contributions to the ASL teaching profession merits promotion.

I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Harris as a co-editor of the Journal of American Sign
Languages and Literatures over the past year. Our collaboration over the journal also included
many conversations about American Sign Language pedagogy, Deaf Studies, and our
respective research efforts. Dr. Harris has proven to be a source of immeasurable support in
guiding my reflection upon my teaching, improving my practices in teaching sign language, and
developing my research. Her versatility is apparent as we engaged in discourse on a wide
variety of issues confronting the field of ASL teaching including but not limited to research
practices, pedagogical approaches, critical discourses within ASL and Deaf Studies,
assessment and curricular design, and advocacy. She has contributed in significant ways to my
development as a teacher and scholar. Dr. Harris has also extended her support by serving as a
mentor to other ASL teachers. In short, she rendered invaluable service to the field by being an
excellent colleague and a willing source of support in advancing the field of ASL pedagogy not
only on Kendall Green but beyond as well.

Through our conversations, it is clear that Dr. Harris engages in a deeply reflective approach to
her teaching and possesses a strong commitment to a high-quality graduate program in sign
language education. Her thoughtfulness and thoroughness is apparent in the product of the
MA-SLED program at Gallaudet. Having interviewed a number of graduates of the MA-SLED
program for faculty positions at the College of the Holy Cross, I was impressed with their
technical knowledge, their ability to bring 21st century digital skills to the classroom, their
reflection on teaching methods, and enthusiasm for teaching ASL. Their professionalism,
attention to detail, knowledge base, and digital skills is a credit to Dr. Harris and serves as
evidence of her investment in teaching, mentoring, and training the next generation of ASL
teachers. Her awards and recognition of excellent teaching comes as no surprise to me. I have
no doubt Dr. Harris will continue to elevate the field and the MA-SLED program throughout her
tenure at Gallaudet.

The profession confronts multiple challenges as the popularity of ASL continues to climb. Dr.
Harris’ work in academic ASL and contributions to the scholarship in the field of ASL pedagogy
serves as a valuable resource for managing those challenges. Her commitment to integrity and
ethics in ASL teaching is reflected in her scholarship and in her philosophy that language
teaching should take a constitutive, not instrumental, view which holds great potential not only
for ASL but for the larger fields of Deaf and Disability Studies. As Bauman wrote in Audism:
Metaphysics of Oppression, ASL courses offer an excellent avenue for exposing non-deaf
students to the concept of audism along with the language, history, and culture of sign language
peoples. Dr. Harris’ teaching and scholarly approaches reinforce this potentiality and suggests
opportunities for elevating the field to new levels never before imagined.

Dr. Harris’ attributes make her an excellent colleague and citizen of the academic community.
Her contributions to the field through teaching, mentoring, research, and service has been a gift
to our profession. In sum, on the basis of her many accomplishments, contributions to the field,
and collegiality, she has demonstrated she is deserving of tenure. Gallaudet is fortunate to
count her amongst its faculty.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me.


Octavian E. Robinson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, St. Catherine University