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University of Washington
Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences

THE DEPARTMENT OF SPEECH AND HEARING SCIENCES VISION, PROGRAM GOALS AND STRATEGIC PLAN

THE DEPARTMENT

The Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, is one of the top-ranked departments in the nation. It has a commitment to excellence that is achieved through its outstanding undergraduate offerings and graduate offerings, research programs, clinical education programs, and innovative instructional activities. These program attributes allow students to realize meaningful scholarly growth during their studies. The Department has a rich tradition of graduate education. Graduates are counted among the finest clinicians and researchers in the country, many of whom head university programs as creative and productive leaders in our profession.

The Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences has a superb record of research achievement and acquisition of outside grant funds. This clearly speaks to the commitment of the Department to scientific inquiry. It has an outstanding faculty, engaged in a variety of teaching and research activities, as well as community and University service. A number of its faculty are national and international leaders in their fields and present a high profile for the University as a whole.

As a unit of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences offers the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. There are approximately 30 faculty members including clinical supervisory staff, and 230 students at all levels in the Department. The department offers a wide range of courses providing a strong undergraduate education that prepares students for graduate study. The program also provides graduate students with an opportunity to develop scholarly and professional competence in various areas of specialization including: speech and language acquisition; speech production; physiology of hearing and psychoacoustics; hearing development; speech perception; human communication disorders related to speech, language, and hearing; and the clinical procedures involved in the identification, prevention, and remediation of communication disorders.

The Department’s academic programs are concerned generally with the processes and disorders of human communication. Research, teaching, and clinical activities are focused in four major areas: 1) the nature of language, speech and hearing as related to the characteristics of biological systems from which they evolve and the development of these processes; 2) the nature and characteristics of individual human communication disorders specifically related to speech, language, and hearing; 3) the processes and procedures involved in identifying, preventing, and remediating these disorders; and 4) the problems of human/machine communication including speaker identification and speech recognition.

To complement departmental curricula in various specialization areas, close interdisciplinary relationships are maintained with other University departments and off-campus centers. Advanced degrees in the speech and hearing sciences prepare the student to do research, to teach at the college and university levels, and to provide clinical services to the communicatively impaired.

THE VISION

The Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences is a center for excellence committed to understanding the basic processes and mechanisms involved in human speech, hearing, language, and their disorders, and to improving the quality of life for individuals affected by communication disorders across the life span.

PROGRAM GOALS

To promote excellence in education, research and service delivery, and to further coordinate our unique strengths in basic and clinical sciences to guide our educational and research goals.

To achieve these goals we will:

  1. Expand and enhance efforts to integrate our strengths in basic and clinical sciences to advance and disseminate knowledge within and across speech/language, hearing and basic science areas.
    Examples:
    • Recruit, develop and retain excellent and diverse faculty, students and staff.
    • Strengthen disciplinary foundations.
    • Foster disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and collaborative research initiatives.
        
  2. Expand the scope of interdisciplinary collaborations through partnerships with those who share out vision of improving the quality of life for individuals affected by communication disorders.
    Examples:
    • Build and sustain a rich network of partnerships with University of Washington programs and colleagues through which our faculty can link their research and our students can link their classroom learning to broaden their communication disorders.
    • Enhance our ability to innovate nimbly in attracting to new student populations, assessment of learning outcomes, and research methodologies and opportunities.
        
  3. Expand clinical training and clinical service delivery in targeted areas of expertise and integrate scholarly activities into teaching learning and service throughout the department and clinic.
    Examples:
    • Find innovative ways to present evidence-based approaches within speech-language pathology and audiology
    • Increase opportunities for faculty and students to share in their research and scholarship.
    • Expand clinical opportunities so students can connect more fully their academic education to their clinical education.

STRATEGIC PLAN

Maintain And Improve Teaching Quality

The success of our program depends on the quality of graduating outstanding students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The Department takes pride in its well-known teaching excellence and innovation. Pursuit of excellence in teaching starts with the faculty and depends on its willingness to learn and implement new instructional techniques in course offerings.

Maintaining excellence in teaching can be accomplished through three mechanisms: First, peer review of courses and teaching effectiveness. Second, individual members of the faculty routinely work with the Center for Instructional Development and Research (CIDR) and participate in the annual workshops. Third, recruiting new faculty members who are committed to mentoring students in a dynamic learning community.

Success in progress toward this goal will be measured as improvement in student evaluations and in assessment of teaching effectiveness by the peer-review procedures in the Department.

Strengthen The Doctoral Program

The Ph.D. program in the Department based on a mentorship model in which students are integrated quickly into a large research community, providing them with an immediate scientific role accompanied by responsibilities that grow with the students’ capabilities.

Improving students’ exposure to researchers outside our department will be accomplished in three ways. First, a colloquium series that features scientists in related fields around campus and visiting scientists will be established. Second, an annual lecture will be established. Third, we will solicit funds to make travel to national meetings possible for more graduate students

Doctoral student exposure to researchers outside the department can be measured in terms of the number of colloquia and lectures presented, the number of students who attend these events, the number of students who travel to national meetings, and student evaluation of their experiences.

Improve Graduate Student Funding To Recruit Outstanding Students

The Department has ~125 graduate students spread across the Ph.D., Au.D. and Master’s programs. Funding for these students, especially master’s students and international doctoral students, is limited. The department currently has an NIH predoctoral training grant that supports 5-6 doctoral students, all of whom must be U.S. citizens; 7 TA appointments; 2-3 clinical supervisory appointments; and a few positions funded year-to-year from grants to individual faculty.

The Department will strive to obtain additional graduate student funding through the following mechanisms: (a) requesting additional TA support to cover the increased number of labs offered in the undergraduate curriculum; and (b) encouraging faculty to fund graduate students on their individual grants. Success with respect to this goal will be measured by the number of funded positions available to graduate students and the acceptance rate among top students in our applicant pool.

Increase External Funding Of Basic And Applied Research

Historically, this Department has been highly successful in obtaining external funding to support faculty and student research. This success has helped to establish the reputation of the department as one of the best in the nation, to attract students to our professional and academic programs, to support students financially, and to make it possible for the Department to grow in the face of reduced state funding.

Given the importance of external funding to the Department, external research funding shall be established as a top priority at the departmental level. This priority entails a redistribution of faculty effort to permit an increased focus on externally funded research. Success will be measured in terms of the number of grant applications submitted, the number of grants funded and the total number of grant dollars brought into the University.

Encourage Interdisciplinary Training And Research Collaborations

Expanding interdisciplinary collaboration is a primary mission of the Department Speech and Hearing Sciences. The Department is committed to creating collaborative partnerships with those who share out vision of improving the quality of life for individuals affected by communication disorders. Given the centrality of communication for learning, educational success and socio-emotional well-being, Speech and Hearing Sciences is uniquely positioned to collaborate with those who work to in all aspects of speech, language, and hearing.

Success of this collaborative effort will ultimately be determined by the breadth and depth of collaborations established for classroom education as well as research training and partnerships.