What is your current job title and responsibilities?
I am a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Health and Public Affairs, and the head of the Fluency Disorders Clinic at UCF. As a Board Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders, I supervise our graduate students in the area of assessment and treatment of children and adults with fluency disorders. I am also the chair of COHPA’s Research Council and International Affairs Committee.
What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
I came to UCF in 1994, received tenure and promotion to associate professor in 1999, and was promoted to full professor in 2005. During my academic career at UCF, I was appointed as Guest Professor at the University of Gent, Belgium, and the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Prior to my professional career in the United States, I worked for twelve years as a speech-language pathologist and clinical supervisor in a clinical center in Gent, Belgium.
What is your academic background?
In 1977, I received my “Graduate in Speech-Language Pathology” from the Higher Institute for Paramedical Professions in Gent, Belgium. From the same institution, I also received a certificate in Pedagogical Proficiency. I obtained my Master of Science degree in 1991 and my Ph.D. in 1994 from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
I am a certified speech-language pathologist in the United States (American Speech-Language and Hearing Association) and Belgium. In addition, I am a Board Certified Fluency Specialist.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
One nice memory is the Stuttering Awareness celebration at the UCF Student Union in October 2015. The Orlando Chapter of the National Stuttering Association (NSA), which I co-chair, organized a stuttering awareness event for UCF students, faculty, and staff, and community members. Our goal was to reach students who stutter and show them the way to the UCF Communication Disorders Clinic where specialized help is available, but also to reach professors in the hope to make them more aware of what this speech disorder entails, and in what small ways they can assist students in their class who suffer from this speech impediment.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be?
As a Faculty Senator and member of the Commencement, Convocation, and Recognitions Committee, I would like to see a policy change as it relates to emeritus status recognition. At many universities in the USA and abroad, full-time academic professors automatically receive the status of emeritus/emerita at the time of retirement (given a minimum number of years of service). I would like to see this happen at UCF as well.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Three of President Hitt’s goals for UCF involve internationalism and diversity. I would ask my colleagues to embrace these goals. I can share with them, from personal experience, how enriching it is to collaborate with colleagues, students, professionals around the globe. Try and expand your horizons, if at all possible. Even if you have a family, there are plenty of opportunities for children, accompanying their university professor mom or dad abroad, to enjoy an education at an international level, and immerse themselves in a rich cultural experience that will, without doubt, mold their future.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
That would be the “Specialty Clinic in Fluency Disorders”. Stuttering (the most prevalent fluency disorder) is a low incidence speech disorder that receives little attention, even in the field of speech-language pathology. Nevertheless, stuttering is more than just a speech impediment. It is a disorder that has an impact on an individual’s personal, academic and professional life and, consequently reduces quality of life. It would be great if more visibility could be given to stuttering within the department, college and university, and to the help that is available at UCF for children and adults who are faced with this debilitating disorder.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
Having a leisurely lunch with the Provost would be fabulous. Being able to talk, in a ‘non-meeting environment’ about his vision and mission for UCF, to exchange ideas about issues that are heartwarming, or worrisome, and the little things that can be done to make the UCF faculty and staff a “happy family”. I would not mind if, after lunch, Provost Whittaker were to play a little tune on his harmonica.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
In the first place, I want to thank Dr. Thomas Mullin. Dr. Mullin is the person who called me in Belgium and asked if I was “still interested in the job at UCF”. After a job interview trip to Florida and some negotiations, I accepted the nine month position, under the stipulation that I would continue to honor and actively pursue my professional ties with my colleagues in Belgium, the Netherlands, and other European countries. After 23 years, this seems to have been an excellent decision that has brought two continents closer together in more than one way.
When I think about Dr. Chad Nye, the second chair after my hire, the first thought that comes to mind is “extremely helpful”. Dr. Nye has continuously shown himself as a leader and colleague who was – and still is, although retired – willing to lend a helping hand in so many different ways. I have always valued his insight, whether related to research or academia in general. And, there is, of course, his always present wit and humor.
Dr. Jane Lieberman was my third chair. Having been a faculty member and department chair at other universities, Dr. Lieberman brought a wealth of expertise and insight along as it relates to academia and administration. She had a clear vision and played a major role in the future of the department. Under her management, the department grew, and academic faculty were hired in different specialty areas. The expansion of the clinical faculty, space and services is her legacy. Under her leadership, the clinic grew to a full-scale community speech, language and hearing center. Most of us, including me, remember Dr. Lieberman as the person who wrote numerous well-documented and beautifully crafted letters of support, including successful nominations for ASHA Honors, Fellowships, and other recognitions.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
This honor would go to Dr. Gene Brutten. Six years after having met Dr. Brutten when he gave a workshop on assessment and treatment of stuttering in Belgium, I took a five year leave of absence from my job in a clinical center in Gent to continue my education at Southern Illinois University. Dr. Brutten’s wisdom and passion as it relates to the field of fluency disorders inspired me to specifically explore this area of speech pathology. Professor Brutten’s high standards, scientific rigor, and his great mentorship were inspiring and have made me the professional that I am today.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why
Research Design and Fluency Disorders, my first graduate courses during my first semester at Southern Illinois University. They were inspiring because of their content and the knowledge of the professor who taught them. The Research Design class was especially challenging, because the material was new to me, the terms foreign, the concepts not always easy to grasp, but at the same time I found the content to be extremely interesting. One of my goals when continuing my education, was to learn more about the “why”, the “scientific evidence”. The Research Design course gave me the knowledge and skills as to how to go about formulating my own hypotheses, establishing the appropriate research design, collecting and analyzing the data, and retaining or rejecting my hypotheses. How exciting!
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
La cuisine française is certainly on top of the list because “la sauce est tout”! To me, a meal is not complete without a delicious sauce. Mediterranean food would be second on the list. My favorite restaurant used to be “Maison et Jardin”. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed its doors. Several years ago, COHPA was invited to the grand opening of “Seasons 52”. I was greatly impressed with the food. I still enjoy this restaurant very much, and consistently order my favorite South African Indaba wine.
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
My favorite movie is, without doubt, “The Way We Were”. Favorite song: “It had to be you”.
As it relates to books, I am ashamed to confess that I have little or no time to read anything that is not professionally-related. My non-scientific reading is probably limited to one book per year…. When I think about favorite books, no specific author comes to mind. Instead, I think about some autobiographies that I have read over the years and have greatly enjoyed. They include Audrey Hepburn and Katherine Hepburn, two ladies with great personalities. However, the person who stands out is Simone de Beauvoir, French writer and philosopher who, in the sixties, had a significant influence on existentialism and the feminist movement. Her book “Le Deuxième Sexe” is inspiring.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
I do not need to think about this twice: Greece has remained on top of my vacation list forever, especially the Cyclades islands. Many years ago, I studied modern Greek at the University of Gent, in order to be able to explore the less touristic areas, and get off the beaten path. My late husband and I have traveled countless secondary, tertiary and ‘non-existent’ roads of many of the Greek islands, enjoying their blue roof topped white houses, the magnificent blue skies and sea, delicious octopus or lamb, a wonderful glass of ouzo or local wine… what else does one need during a vacation? Yiamas!