SPOTLIGHT: Robert Davila

Robert DavilaRobert Davila, Ph.D. (1972), was one of the first graduates of what is now IDD&E at Syracuse University.  Dr. Davila’s career illustrates the vast opportunities that a degree in instructional design offers.  His contributions in classrooms, board rooms, and government offices have impacted the education of decades of students.

Davila told Syracuse Manuscript that entering Syracuse University was “the turning point of his life and career”. Davila entered Syracuse University’s IDD&E department through a program offered by the US Department of Education in 1970.  The program involved using evolving technologies and innovative instructional designs to improve the instruction of deaf children. SU’s IDD&E department would train five post-masters students from the field of education of the deaf.


In a letter to IDD&E Davila wrote, “I was fortunate to be admitted as the first deaf person in the first year and was proud to be the first to complete the requirements for my Ph.D. in 1972.”

Before his retirement, Davila’s career spanned 57 years and where he taught and administered in elementary, middle school, high school, and at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.  During his career, Davila served as vice president and president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and as vice president of the Rochester Institute of Technology and CEO of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, NY. In 1989 President George H. W. Bush appointed Davila to the highest federal office with responsibility for disability affairs (Syracuse Manuscript, Summer 2016).

“My own career path was greatly enhanced as a result of my SU experience,” Davila wrote in a letter to Syracuse University.

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