Presidential Address

Kim A. Wilcox, Ph.D.
University of Kansas-Lawrence

I am honored to be able to address the Council as President and to report on the
activities of the past year.   Before I start, however, I must apologize to anyone whose contribution I may overlook.  It is simply the case that many, many people contribute to the success of this Council.  This is one of the group’s strengths and one reason why so many of us feel a commitment to its goals and activities but that also makes my task here this morning quite challenging.

First of all, there are a large number of first-time attendees at the meeting.  They are
identifiable by the blue spot on their name tags.  Please seek them out during the next three days and help them to feel at home.

Also, a special thanks to our Corporate Sponsors Singular Publishing Group and the
Psychological Corporation.  Their generous support continues to make this meeting the special event that it is.

The Council’s achievements this past year build on a recent history of “organizational maturation”.  From its inception in 1978, the Council has progressively matured as an association, with an increase in its “maturation rate” beginning around 1993 with the discussions that led to the revision of the academic accreditation process.  From that time on, we have become more effective in shaping many discussions in communication sciences and disorders.  But, as the gray creeps into the hair on many of our heads, we are coming to appreciate the truth in the old adage that “The older you get, the better you realize you were”.  To a certain extent this holds true for the Council.  Many of the long-time participants at this meeting talk blissfully of the small and lively discussions that ensued at the King Henry VIII Hotel in St. Louis, in the early years of the Council.  Many of those individuals miss the intimacy of the early meetings and the sense of involvement that they created.  I never attended the Henry VIII, but it is clear to me that those who did were extremely dedicated and forward-thinking individuals.  Benjamin Franklin reminded us that “A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.”  Like Dr. Franklin, these early Council participants understood the importance of learning.  They also recognized that academicians in communication sciences and disorders lacked a “voice” in policy discussions.  Their hard work and foresight have created for us, that voice.  Our continuing challenge is to make sure that we use it effectively.

How have we shaped our “voice” this year, and what have we done with it?  First, we have moved to expand our membership to include all programs in communication sciences and disorders and not just those with graduate degree programs.  Several things contributed to this decision, but the most important and fundamental one is the recognition that we are first and foremost academicians; and as such, share a set of common goals and aspirations, as well as problems.  In that sense we all believe as Groucho Marx does that "Outside of a dog, a book is probably man's best friend”.   Of course, Groucho went on to offer that:  "Outside of a dog, a book is probably man's best friend; and inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

The bureaucratic aspects of expanding the Council’s membership have been moving along rapidly.  This includes revisions of all of our materials, from the brochure, to the Directory, to our mission statement and our letterhead.  Orchestrating these changes has come in addition to all of the regular duties of our Publications Committee (Richard McGuire, Colleen O’Rourke, Wayne Swisher, and Pollie Murphy, Chair).  We’ve also sent out letters of invitation to all undergraduate-only programs, and have expanded our correspondence database.  The most important step in this process, however, is ongoing and requires all of your efforts.  We must encourage UGO programs to join the Council and we must make them feel welcome once they arrive.  There are a number of undergraduate only programs represented here this week.  Please be sure to introduce yourself to these representatives and get to know them.

Since 1982, one of the Council’s most consistent voices has been the National Survey of Undergraduate and Graduate Programs, a document that is relied upon by Council members and non-members alike.  Beginning next year, the Council will be launching a second regular survey, this one focusing on academic salaries in communication sciences and disorders.  Accurate salary data are desperately needed for us to be effective advocates for the discipline and for faculty resources.  This new survey should help provide that valuable data.  As you can imagine, developing and piloting this instrument on top of the ongoing responsibilities associated with the existing National Survey has required a significant effort on the part of our Information Exchange Committee (Jane Lieberman, Malcolm McNeil, Roy Shinn, and Chair, Linda Petrosino).

Within the Council’s organizational structure, our “voice” in Washington is the Professional Development and Advocacy Committee (Mary Louise Edwards, Irv Hochberg, Kim Oller, and Chair, Jon Miller).  Working closely with Morgan Downey, our Washington DC consultant, this group has also been extremely active.  In response to Council resolutions and new funding opportunities, PDA has refocused its efforts in the past year, targeting funding for science instruction and doctoral education.  This has included consultation and lobbying at various institutes at the NIH, and planning for collaborative programming in the coming months.  PDA is coordinating their efforts in this area with ASHA’s Office of Research and Technology to minimize duplication of efforts.

As you all know, IDEA implementation regulations have been finalized, Morgan Downey, our Washington, DC consultant and “our other voice in Washington”, has provided a memo to the membership on those regulations that is included in your packet.  That memo offers recommendations that focus on state-level lobbying efforts by Council members in response to the changes in IDEA.

The Council’s “voice” has also become increasingly institutionalized in the past year, and I mean this in a positive sense.  In particular, our relationship with ASHA has become stronger and better defined.  The Council now has an observer, a liaison, and/or a permanent representative on several ASHA groups, including: SID 10, the CAA Nominating Committee, and the Standards Council.  We also have regular mini EB-EB meetings with ASHA twice each year, to share agendas and discuss areas of common concern and interest.  Similarly, in the past year, we have had our first formal discussions with AAA on several issues.

One of the newest aspects of our evolving “voice” is our expansion of electronic communication and especially our website.  For those of you who have not visited lately, please check it out.  Everything that you need is there: the Directory, the Survey, the Proceedings, Council minutes, postings of academic positions, future conference dates, and much more.  I now first go to the web and not the bookshelf when looking for Council-related information.  It’s more convenient and more useful.  For instance, to contact a colleague, I don’t have to type in an e-mail address from the printed Directory, I just click on a name in the electronic Directory.  Maurice Mendel volunteered to serve as the Council’s Webmaster and to move most of our electronic services to the University of Memphis.  This was a generous offer for which we should all be grateful.  Maurice has also assumed the role of Council photographer, to provide future Council members with the opportunity to laugh at the clothes and the hairstyles of the late 20th century!  To assist us in laughing at previous generations, Barbara B. Shadden, Council Archivist, has organized a voluminous set of materials at the National.  She has created an impressive display of the early years outside in the hallway.  I encourage everyone to take a look.
Many of our educational institutions’ assess themselves based on the size of their endowments, with everyone trying to catch Harvard’s several billions.  While the Council is far from being so “mature” as to enter in to that kind of competition, we are forever grateful to Sadanand Singh and his family for establishing the Singular Scholarship which Chuck Speaks will discuss on Saturday morning.  This scholarship represents the first major gift to the Council and a rare opportunity to assist student scholarship.

Of all of our “voices” the most visible and recognizable continues to be this meeting.  It’s success is directly measured in terms of its attendance.  Last year we set an all-time record with 188 conference attendees.  This year we have 267!  Timing is everything; just when the registration increased dramatically, we are fortunate to have, what I believe to be, the best conference planning committee, yet assembled.  Twenty years later, we can’t match the intimacy of the first Council meeting in St. Louis, but we can try to match the dynamic and timely nature of the discussions.  Cudos to Rodger Dalston (Program Chair), Gip Seaver, (Co-Chair), Elaine McNiece, and Mary Ambroe for the entire program, but in particular to their efforts to welcome Clinic Directors to the meeting.  This is something that we have long discussed, but failed to achieve.  The committee is also to be commended for their creative programming, highlighted by this morning’s Great Debate, and by their integration of the recommendations of several of last year’s Working Group’s into the program.

In the first few years of the Council’s history, it was easy for attendees to plan their itineraries, because the meeting was always in the same city in the same hotel.  Fortunately, we’ve grown beyond that; but that growth means planning individual travel arrangements is more of a challenge for members a for the Conference Planning Committee and the National Office.  Our Vice-President, Elaine McNiece, has helped to reduce that problem by planning our conference time and place through the year 2003, the 25th anniversary of the Council!  You will find those dates and places on the pink sheet in your packets.  So all of you new attendees, be sure to mark your calendars, appropriately.

So much for the past year, what will the Council be doing in the coming year and beyond?  On Saturday morning, we will discuss the report from our  Long Range Planning Task Force (Jerry Carney, Douglas Martin, John Petit, Daniel Tullos, Kathy Whipple, and Chair, Ro Scudder).  This group was assembled last fall and was asked to offer their thoughts on the future of the Council, focusing on four areas: the impact of revised certification standards on member programs, the impact of national policy initiatives on future demand for audiologists and speech-language pathologists, the expansion of the Council to include undergraduate-only programs, and strategies for ensuring a future professorate within the discipline.  Their report will help to shape the activities of the Council for years to come and I hope that all of you will be able to participate in the discussion of this report on Saturday.

Last November, in San Antonio, we discussed the planning of a joint conference with ASHA and AAA on “Transitioning to the New Audiology Standards”, and the failure of that attempt.  Given the planning time required for a meeting of this size, it was not possible to reconfigure this conference to adequately address the topics targeted for that meeting, once the joint conference fell apart.  Moreover, the Executive Board felt they lacked direction on how to move forward, given that the Council’s long-standing position on doctoral education in the discipline.  From the feedback received at the November meeting, the EB organized an all-day Retreat on Audiology Education, this past January.  That meeting included members of the EB, and four recognized experts in audiology education, Arlene Carney, John Ferraro, Maurice Mendel, and Rick Talbott.  I believe the retreat was highly successful.  In a relatively short time the group worked through several issues and developed an action plan.  That plan has three parts:

First, the group has developed a statement summarizing the Council’s position on audiology education.   This statement compiles all past resolutions on the topic and also provides a context and rationale for those resolutions.

Second, a committee was formed (Arlene Carney, John Ferraro, Larry Humes, and Chair, Chuck Speaks) to develop a Model Curriculum for Preparation for Entry-Level Practice in Audiology.  Rather than responding to other’s ideas of minimal standards for audiology instruction, the January group felt a responsibility to offer a “model” for what curricula should be.  That group is working hard and plans to have a draft document available for comment by early Fall.  We hope to post the draft on the Council website for comment and will be informing you of the progress via the listserve.

Third, the retreat participants resolved to implement an advocacy plan.  In the past, we have shared our positions, but have not always shared the rationale for those positions; and in general, we could probably have done more in our lobbying efforts.  For example, we have seldom, if ever, offered a mass mailing to all faculty in CSD, or to all licensure boards in the country, or to all ASHA legislative counselors or any other constituency.  Instead we have relied on a relatively small number of individuals or groups to convey our message.  For all of you who remember playing “Telephone” as a child, you know the risks of relying on one person to carry a message that must be relayed several times.  President-Elect McNiece, has begun identifying groups and individuals who could be targeted in this, or any other, advocacy plan.  During the Plenary Session on Saturday morning, we will discuss the Audiology Summary Statement, the Model Curriculum, and plans for sharing our message with various constituencies.  We will also discuss the Long Range Planning Committee’s report and its implications for the future of the Council.  Please look these materials over carefully and come on Saturday ready to participate in that discussion.

In my mind, we are moving to another stage in the development of the “voice” for academe in communication sciences and disorders.  This stage includes a broader advocacy role that goes beyond the traditional role of our Professional Development and Advocacy Committee.  In the coming months, we will be faced with several important issues, including the IDEA state-level lobbying needs I mentioned earlier, proposed revisions of certification standards for speech-language pathology and new proposed certification standards for speech-language pathology assistants.  We should be prepared to offer our opinion on these important topics in an effective and timely manner to whatever constituent groups are appropriate.  That effort will begin with two position statements, one on Certification Principles and one on Speech-Language Pathology Assistants which will be distributed on Saturday.

I’ve already identified several goals for Saturday’s Plenary Session.  I hope that we might discuss the future of the Council’s advocacy activities on Saturday, as well.  Please plan on being here on Saturday and be ready to join in the discussion.

As you can see, your Executive Board has been extremely busy and I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to recognize them.  President-Elect, Elaine McNiece; Past-President, Ro Scudder; Secretary Chuck Speaks; Treasurer, Dennis Nash; Information Exchange Committee Chair, Linda Petrosino; Publications Committee Chair, Pollie Murphy; and Professional Development and Advocacy Chair, Jon Miller.  They have been simply great.  In a year of additional challenges, they have met them all.

I’m looking forward to the next few days.  William Lamb observed that “It is tiresome to hear education discussed, tiresome to educate, and tiresome to be educated.”  I believe that in the next three days we can prove him wrong.  Welcome to the conference, I’m truly glad that you’re here.