July 16, 2015


President Jane K. Fernandes

Jane K. Fernandes is the ninth president of Guilford College and the first deaf woman to lead an American college or university. She began her work at Guilford July 1, 2014, having served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina at Asheville since 2008. At Guilford, she holds the faculty rank of Professor of English.

As chief executive officer at Guilford, Jane is responsible for the supervision, management and governance of the College, which employs approximately 170 faculty members and 210 full-time staff members. She leads an independent liberal arts college founded by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1837. The College has 2,300 traditional-aged and adult students, including students in The Early College at Guilford.

As chief academic officer at UNC Asheville, a public, liberal arts university of 3,750 students, she managed 230 faculty and 161 staff. She supervised 40 undergraduate departments and programs and one graduate program, academic support programs, admissions and financial aid, the university library and information technology services.

A native of Worcester, Mass., Jane is a graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut, where she earned her B.A. in French and comparative literature, and the University of Iowa, where she earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in comparative literature. Born deaf to a deaf mother and hearing father, she learned American Sign Language (ASL) as a graduate student.

Jane’s career took her first to Boston as acting director of American Sign Language Programs at Northeastern University and then to Washington, D.C., as chair of the Sign Communication Department at Gallaudet (Gal-luh-det) University. Moving to Hawaii, she became the founding coordinator of the University of Hawaii’s Sign Language/English Interpreter Training Program and later, director of the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind.

She returned to Gallaudet as vice president of the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center in 1995 and served as provost of the university 2000-06. After her leadership roles at Gallaudet, she became a senior fellow at the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity & Inclusion Institute at Bennett College in Greensboro, a post she held from 2007 to 2011.

Jane’s husband, Jim, is an emeritus professor at Gallaudet. They have two children: Sean, a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and now a law student at the University of Chicago, and Erin, a graduate of Smith College.

To learn more about Jane's first year at Guilford and her vision for the College's future, visit our Q&A with Jane in the Guilford Magazine.