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Speech-Language Pathology faculty, staff elated over U.S. News & World Report recognition

April 5, 2012

NIU Speech-Language PathologyMembers of the NIU Speech-Language Pathology faculty and staff are excited to be recognized for their diligent work in the form of a high ranking in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2012 Best Colleges and Universities listing.

NIU’s graduate Speech-Language Pathology program is ranked first in the State of Illinois for master’s-only programs at public universities and 12th among master’s-only programs nationwide.

Among all U.S. graduate programs, including private institutions and those universities with doctoral programs, NIU ranks 62nd.

“Our Speech-Language Pathology program has always been ranked high among master’s-only programs,” said Deputy Provost Earl “Gip” Seaver, who served as chair of the Department of Communicative Disorders before it became part of the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders.

The program is a six-semester practical series that allows student to gain significant experience in the field.

The first five semesters are spent primarily on campus completing course work and gaining experience by working in NIU’s Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, located inside the NIU Family Health, Wellness and Literacy Center at the corner of Sycamore and Bethany roads. The clinic allows students to provide valuable and needed services to the community.

“Both students and faculty during this period provide all of the therapeutic needs for the patients of Kishwaukee Hospital in terms of speech-language pathology,” clinical supervisor Lilli Bishop said.

Kim Hoffer and Lilli Bishop

Kim Hoffer and Lilli Bishop

“In their final semester, they are required to complete an external practicum where they are assigned a professional in the field to work with, shadow and essentially assume their case load. The first eight weeks of the practicum are spent in a school setting while the second eight weeks in the hospital setting,” Bishop added.

“The program prepares students to care for patients pediatric through geriatric, covering the whole life span. They learn to treat development conditions like late talkers; congenital conditions, such as cleft pallet or cerebral palsy; and acquired conditions due to injury or stroke.”

Kim Hoffer, a member of the clinical faculty for speech-language pathology, points to the stringent admission requirements of the program. About 30 students are admitted each fall, she said. “The quality of our students is high. All of them come out of a strong undergraduate background,” Hoffer said.

Program faculty members exude pride in the students and the learning experience that they receive.

“I have been with the program for over 20 years and it has been a pleasure and an honor. We are really proud of our students,” Hoffer said. “We feel strongly about helping our students and giving them the academic and clinical experience they need to excel.”

by Constance Ervins