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Wayne McIntire, 95; helped establish CSUN as a model in the field of deaf education

March 02, 2007|Jocelyn Y. Stewart | Times Staff Writer

In the 1950s the doors of most mainstream universities in the U.S. were, in effect, closed to deaf students. The schools did not provide the kinds of services they needed to succeed among a hearing population.

Wayne McIntire, an educator with a daughter who was born deaf, knew that limited educational opportunities would mean limited career choices. In the 1960s on the campus of what is now Cal State Northridge, he developed the National Leadership Training Program with the goal of supplying the nation with professionals -- hearing and deaf -- skilled in working with deaf students, and offering hearing-impaired students a rare opportunity to pursue postgraduate work.

That program led to the creation of others on campus and eventually established Cal State Northridge as a model institution in the field of deaf education, turning out many of the nation's leaders in the deaf community.

"It was a real groundbreaking experience," said Earl Sanders, McIntire's son-in-law and a former administrator of the leadership program. "The idea that deaf students, given proper leadership and opportunity, on their own could succeed in the hearing world, it was sort of a revelation."

McIntire died of natural causes Feb. 18 at a nursing facility in Greer, S.C. He was 95. Six days later, his wife, Edith, died of natural causes at the same nursing facility. She was 90. During the 1970s she coordinated a program for hearing impaired students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Wayne McIntire was a visionary educator whose "legacy continues through the viable programs in place today at CSUN for deaf and hard of hearing students," said Roslyn Rosen, director of the National Center on Deafness on the campus. Today the campus community includes nearly 1,000 sign language users -- students, faculty, staff and employees -- who are deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing.

McIntire began his work in the 1960s, when most hearing impaired students interested in pursuing higher education had only Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., as an option. The school, which was founded in 1864, offers deaf students an undergraduate education, but it did not begin offering graduate programs until the 1960s.

After one of his daughters was born deaf, McIntire and his family began a close association with the John Tracy Clinic, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that offers services to the families of hearing impaired children. McIntire was head of the Department of Administration and Supervision when the director of the clinic approached him with the idea of starting a leadership training program.

"Dr. McIntire ... knew the need because he saw it firsthand, the lack of educational opportunities" for his daughter, said Gary Sanderson, administrative staff interpreter for the National Center on Deafness.

Working with education professor Ray L. Jones, McIntire created an interdisciplinary curriculum and secured federal grants to fund the program on the campus, which was then known as San Fernando Valley State College.

In 1962, the first class of students entered the program and two years later the first deaf students were admitted. Through the leadership program the school's reputation grew, and it soon attracted deaf undergraduate students. Because of their desire to attend the school, a program of support services was created, which is now known as the National Center on Deafness. A program for interpreters followed.

Today, the Cal State Northridge program has grown to serve 200 deaf students a year, Sanderson said. There are 2,000 alumni, 600 of whom finished the leadership training program. "The program was really quite successful," Sanders said. "Many of the students went on to be administrators in hearing-impaired programs throughout the United States. That was the goal."

In the late 1970s, McIntire retired and he and his wife increased their involvement in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, returning to the missionary work that marked his early years.

Born in Price, Utah, on Sept. 7, 1911, McIntire spent two years performing missionary work near the border of Switzerland and Germany in the 1930s. After completing his service, he attended Brigham Young University and earned a doctorate in educational administration from UC Berkeley.

In 1940, McIntire married Edith Marsh, a graduate of Brigham Young, who was born April 19, 1916, in Alpine, Utah. The couple had four children and are survived by three, Margaret Sanders of Greer, S.C.; Kathryn Sutton of Torrance; Marsha Jensen, of Columbia, S.C. A son, Wayne F. McIntire, preceded them in death.

In their retirement, the couple served as missionaries in the Philippines and Switzerland. McIntire's work in Los Angeles is remembered by many in the deaf community, including the daughter who inspired his work. Kathryn Sutton is a teacher.

"My father was one of the giants in the world of the deaf and hard of hearing," Sutton said in a statement. "He understood the importance and the need for deaf people to get higher education and to become leaders in the deaf community."

A funeral for Wayne and Edith McIntire will be held Saturday, in American Fork, Utah. Memorial donations may be sent to the National Center on Deafness, Cal State Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St., Chisholm Hall -- Mail Drop 8267, Northridge 91330-8267, or to the John Tracy Clinic, 806 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles 90007-2505.


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