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Robert R. Davila.

Assistant Secretary

Robert R. Davila

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

On July 13, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Bush's appointment of Robert R. Davila as Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Vice President Dan Quayle administered the oath of office to the new Assistant Secretary on July 31.

One of eight children of migrant farm-working parents who immigrated to the United States from Mexico, Dr. Davila was born on July 19, 1932. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education for the Hearing Impaired from Gallaudet College (now University) in 1953, and a Master of Science degree in Special Education from Hunter College in 1963. He holds a Ph.D. in Education Technology from Syracuse University.

Confirmation in what many experts in special education, rehabilitation and disability call the most complex job in the field represents the ultimate achievement to one who has made service to children and youth with disabilities a lifelong career. Dr. Davila has served education in various professional and administrative positions. He has taught at the elementary, junior high and secondary school levels in English, social studies and mathematics, and has served as a department supervisor at the New York School for the Deaf in White Plains, New York. At Gallaudet University, he held the post of Director, Kendall Demonstration Elementary School, and later both as a Professor of Education and as Vice President for Pre-College Programs. He held these positions until his appointment as Assistant Secretary, OSERS.

Throughout his career, national attention frequently has focused on Dr. Davila, not only during his tenure at Gallaudet University. Dr. Davila has become an international spokesman on issues affecting the education of people who are deaf and hearing impaired. Indeed, he is the first person to be elected president of the three major professional organizations in the field of deafness.

Dr. Davila is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Among these are the Daniel T. Cloud Leadership Award from California State University, Northridge (1988); induction into the National Hall of Fame for Persons with Disabilities, Columbus, Ohio, and the Hunter College Alumni Award Hall of Fame (1987); selection as "Alumnus of the Year" by the School of Education at Syracuse University (1986); and selection in 1985 as a "Member of Honor" by La Associacion Espanola de Educadores de Sordos (A.E.E.S. -- Spanish Association of Educators of the Deaf). In receiving this honor, Dr. Davila became the first foreigner and first deaf person so elected. He was also designated "Distinguished Foreign Lecturer" at the Annual Conference of Australian Teachers of the Deaf, Melbourne, Australia (1979).

Assistant Secretary Davila is fluent not only in English and American Sign Language but Spanish as well, and he has authored articles appearing in numerous professional journals related to education of students with hearing impairments. He has frequently presented papers on related topics at variouis national and international conferences and symposia throughout his career. Prior to his role as Assistant Secretary, Dr. Davila appeared regularly on Capitol Hill to testify as an expert witness on issues relative to deafness, hearing impairment and education and rehabilitation of people with disabilities.

Dr. Davila brings to his new position a strong determination to promote collaboration between various disability and advocacy groups and among special educators, vocational rehabilitation and research professionals. "Of course each group's needs, situations and perspectives are unique," Dr. Davila has said. "But we have an overwhelming need in common: we must advocate for all people with disabilities and insure that all our educational and rehabilitation needs... are met."

As the new Assistant Secretary of OSERS, Dr. Davila will administer an annual budget of nearly $4 billion and will have authority for federal involvement in programs affecting the nation's 36 million people with disabilities. "This opportunity is more than I ever dreamed," said Dr. Davila recently. "I believe I really can make a positive difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families."

Assistant Secretary Davila has been married for the past 35 years to Donna E. Davila, who is also hearing impaired. They have two sons: Brian, a civil engineer; and Brent, an accountant. Both are graduates of the University of Maryland.
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Title Annotation:New leadership for the new decade in rehabilitation
Publication:American Rehabilitation
Date:Jun 22, 1989
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