Gallaudet College, a venerable Washington institution that currently educates about 1,500 deaf and hearing-impaired students, is preparing to add a second campus. It hopes in the fall of 1983 to occupy the former Marjorie Webster Junior College campus on Kalmia Road NW, located between 16th Street NW and Rock Creek Park near the District of Columbia's northern tip.
Although Gallaudet's plans have been no secret, they have received scant publicity. After Webster shut down, its 8.75-acre campus was acquired by the federal government for a national fire academy, which never got funding. Congress then voted to transfer the campus to Gallaudet.
Gallaudet spokesman Donna Chitman said the need for a second campus results from the rubella (German measles) outbreak of 1963-65, which doubled the number of births of hearing-impaired infants. Gallaudet expects to have 375 to 500 more new students than usual entering in the falls of 1983, 1984 and 1985.
Current plans call for establishing a preparatory program on the Webster campus, with the bulk of students living in former Webster dormitories and attending classes in the campus' academic buildings. However, buses will be used to shuttle students to and from other classes and activities on the main campus on Florida Avenue NE.
Meantime, Gallaudet must go through an administrative process dictated by the District's zoning code. As federal property, the Webster campus is considered unzoned land. Gallaudet, while funded primarily by the U.S. government, is considered a private rather than a governmental institution, the same status as Howard University.
To get the right to occupy the Webster buildings, Gallaudet must get the land zoned, so it has filed an application with the D.C. Zoning Commission to establish its new campus in the category of a "planned unit development." However, no significant changes to the Webster campus are planned, beyond renovations. No hearing date has been set.