MURFREESBORO — A program that has improved the quality of life for hundreds of people and educated thousands of professionals will mark its 50th anniversary in new quarters.
The Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Program will host an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, on the first floor of the Alumni Memorial Gym, home of the new Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. A ribbon-cutting is slated for 2:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
“The interesting thing now is that this is the only clinic I know of in Tennessee where undergraduates can work with people with communications disorders,” said David Arnold, who founded the program and nurtured it at MTSU for 39-and-a-half years.
Arnold began by screening education majors and minors for speech and hearing problems, working with the future teachers so that they could be understood by students.
His wife, Janice, performed screening and therapy for students in the Rutherford County schools for 32 years. She worked as an MTSU adjunct professor in the summer semesters of 1963 and 1964.
“The only places (graduates) could work were in schools and a few clinics,” said David Arnold of the period before the birth of the MTSU program.
Today, the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Program occupies a valued place in the Department of Health and Human Performance. Clients, who pay for services on a sliding scale, range from the very young to the very old.
The clinic assists people with autism, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, articulation disorders, language disorders and, of course, hearing difficulties.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Christy-Houston Foundation and major donors, the clinic’s new home has more than 1,000 more square feet than its previous quarters in the Boutwell Building.
The new clinic space features nine therapy rooms, three large observation booths, a student workroom and kitchenette, faculty and administrative offices and a new, top-flight audiology booth.
Off-campus visitors attending the open house should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at http://www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php. A printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.
Clinic Coordinator Elizabeth Smith, who graduated from the program in 1996, said the profession has grown tremendously over the years.
“People are more aware and better educated, and we are better at teaching,” Smith said. “There are so many more opportunities to become productive members of society.”
Dr. Patti Thigpen, owner of Thigpen Hearing Center in Murfreesboro, also is an alumna. She said her MTSU education “was the catalyst to a lifelong, fulfilling career in audiology.”
“I enjoy working with the practicum students of the department in our office each semester,” said Thigpen. “The experience is a legacy that I enjoy passing on to others.”
For more information about the MTSU program and clinic, contact Smith at 615-898- 2662 or email@example.com.