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Ole Miss Prof. Leads American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Communication sciences and disorders professor Carolyn Wiles Higdon serves as vice president of finance.

Carolyn Wiles Higdon Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Communications
Carolyn Wiles Higdon
Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Communications

University of Mississippi communication sciences and disorders professor Carolyn Higdon’s leadership role with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has positioned the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders to be at the forefront of the field’s latest news and research on national and international levels.

Higdon, who was elected vice president of finance for ASHA, will serve her term through 2014. ASHA is the professional, scientific and credentialing association for more than 167,000 members including audiologists, speech-language pathologists and speech, language and hearing scientists.

“[The position] has allowed me to bring topics to the department for discussion that are going to affect training and academic programs at Ole Miss and across the country, giving us an added advantage as we assess our current program and as we plan for the future,” Higdon said. “As a faculty, we have been able to do improved long-range and strategic planning that will benefit all of our customers — the students and clients we serve — as well as the faculty.”

Among the initiatives, the department was able to get an early start to include the “216 license,” a license for students with a bachelor’s degree to practice in schools, which will go into effect in Mississippi in July. Previously, a master’s degree was required to practice in every setting in the field.

For the CSD department, this will mean teaching master’s-level speech-language pathologists how to supervise bachelor’s-level speech therapists, as well as developing new online courses, creating more part-time opportunities for graduate students and improving the department’s retention and recruitment opportunities, Higdon said.

In October, Higdon was among about 75 participants at the prestigious Healthcare Summit, a four-day event that brought leaders in the field of health care and government together to discuss the Affordable Care Act. Higdon also has access to the CSD graduate programs’ accrediting council and multiple external-funding opportunities, as well as new products and evidence-based research portals.

“A board position on an association this size holds strong visibility and credibility when discussing professional issues,” said Lennette Ivy, CSD department chair. “This position affords us an opportunity to showcase the University of Mississippi and the School of Applied Sciences, as well as individual faculty within the department, to Congress and legislators from across the country, as well as other SLPs and audiologists.”

Another faculty member was recognized by ASHA recently. Rebecca Lowe, clinical assistant professor and co-director of the UM Speech and Hearing Clinic, was appointed to the ASHA Audiology Leadership Class.

In addition, UM has a history of presence on the ASHA board of directors. Alumni Sue Hale and Tommie Robinson each served as president, and Gloria Kellum, vice chancellor emerita for university relations and professor emerita of communicative disorders, served as a vice president.

“I feel it is a great honor to follow in their footsteps by being able to serve the members of our association through my position on the ASHA board of directors,” Higdon said. “The University of Mississippi is a weekly word in the ASHA office now.”

Higdon holds a doctorate in education from the University of Georgia as well as an M.A. and a B.S. from Kent State University. She joined the UM faculty in 2000, served as chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders from 2002 to 2007, is active in university and department committees and is a consultant to the U.S. Department of Labor and the Mississippi Department of Education. Higdon is a trained mediator, a qualified expert witness in CSD in the legal arena, and she continues her international rehabilitation work. — Ole Miss News Desk

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