Distinguished Alumnus Award

Since 2002, the department has bestowed the Distinguished Alumnus award on 13 individuals who have made a difference in the science and the practice of speech-language pathology or audiology. Recipients graduated with a BS, MS or PhD at least 5 years prior to their nomination, and have demonstrated sustained and active participation in the profession. These individuals have engaged in innovative clinical practice, insightful and rigorous research, creative administration, effective legislative activity, and outstanding teaching, as well as made significant contributions in their communities.

Recipients of the Department's Distinguished Alumnus Award

2002: Dennis M. Ruscello, PhD, CCC-SLP, has the distinct pleasure of being the first person to receive a PhD from SLHS. After graduation, Dr. Ruscello distinguished himself at the University of West Virginia, where he became a Professor of Speech Pathology and Audiology. At the time of his recognition, he had received three prominent teaching awards and had served on multiple university committees. Dr. Ruscello received association honors by the West Virginia Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 1985, and was made an ASHA Fellow in 1986. Finally, as a scientist, Dr. Ruscello had over 70 invited papers, peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.

2003: At the time of her honor, Sharon M. Kujawa, PhD, CCC-A, (PhD '93), was Director of Audiology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and held joint appointments as Associate Professor of Otology and Laryngology at Harvard Medical School and adjunct faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Harvard-MIT Health and Biotechnology. Dr. Kujawa research area of interest included age-related and noise-induced hearing losses, receiving grant funding from Nation Institutes of Health/NIDCD. She had over 20 peer reviewed journal articles.

2004: Manuel Don, PhD, received his MA at The University of Arizona in 1967 before moving on to Stanford University and the PhD program. At the time of his award, Dr. Don was the Head of the Department of Electrophysiology at House Ear Institute. His research in derived bands in the ABR led to highly accurate methods of hearing assessment, and he contributed significantly to the understanding of the process of evoked potentials and distinguishing response from noise. Dr. Don authored over 75 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. Also of note, Dr. Don’s family, as quoted from Dr. Ted Glattke’s nomination, was “part of the root stock of Tucson.”

2005: Janis Wolf-Gasch, AuD, CCC-A (MS, '75) was honored for her commitment to quality practice in the area of Audiology. At the time of her award, Dr. Wolf-Gasch was the Owner and Director of Arizona Hearing Specialists, the first audiology private practice in Tucson. Over the years, she and AHS audiologists have provided countless hours of training and mentoring to SLHS graduate students. She was a past president of the Arizona Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and was involved with the St. Andrew's Children's Clinic in Nogales, Arizona. It was for this work that Dr. Wolf-Gasch was awarded the Humanitarian Award from the American Academy of Audiology.

2006: Megan Hodge, PhD, CCC-SLP (MS, '79) completed her MS at the UA after receiving her BS from UA "north" (University of Alberta in Canada). She completed her PhD in Communicative Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. and in 1989, and returned as a clinician-scientist to Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta. At the time of her award, Dr. Hodge was an Associate Professor in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at the University of Alberta, with many research articles and invited presentations to her name. Her research topic of interest included how children with and without speech disorders meet the challenge of becoming intelligible speakers. For her dedication to the profession, to teaching, and to research, Dr. Hodge was awarded the Eve Kassirer Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement by the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.

2007 Lyn Turkstra, PhD, CCC-SLP, received her PhD from our department in 1993. At the time of her award, Dr. Turkstra was Associate Professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She had 39 journal publications in her research area of interest focusing on the cognitive-communication deficits associated with brain injury. For her teaching, Dr. Turkstra was named Professor of the Year by the University of Wisconsin National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 2005. She served as Editor of an issue of Seminars in Speech and Language and as ad hoc Associate Editor of the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.

2008:  At the time of his award, Carl Coelho, PhD, CCC-SLP (MS ’76), was Professor and Department Head of the Department of Communication Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Coelho received the ASHFoundation’s Clinical Achievement Award – CT in 1991 and was named an ASHA Fellow in 1993. He had 24 book chapters and invited papers, as well as 60 refereed journal articles. Dr. Coelho was the editor of Aphasiology for several years, and held multiple committee positions on state and national professional boards. In 2004, Dr. Coelho was named Outstanding Academic Advisor by the UConn Undergraduate Student Government.

2009:  At the time of her award, Sarah Ascher, MS, CCC-A (MS, ’85), was the Clinical Coordinator for the Audiology, Balance/Vestibular, and Outpatient Neuro Rehab Programs at Carondelet Health Network. Ms Ascher was there for over 20 years, helping to build their audiology services from basic to advanced care, including electrophysiology, hearing aid dispensing, newborn hearing screening, and the Carondelet Neurological Institute Interdisciplinary Balance/Vestibular Center. Ms Ascher sat on the board of Ben’s Bells Project and engaged in volunteer group facilitation work for Tu Nidito.

2010: E. Fiona Bailey, PhD, worked as a speech pathologist in her native Australia before coming to The University of Arizona and completing her doctorate in SLHS in 1999. At the time of her award, Dr. Bailey was Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology in the College of Medicine at the UA. She held a position on the editorial board of the Journal of Applied Physiology and was a grant reviewer for NIH/NIDCD Small Grants Committee. Dr. Bailey had 14 refereed journal articles and 16 published abstracts, and has received major funding through NIH/NIDCD. In 2009, she was awarded “Star Reviewer” from the American Physiological Society.

2011: At the time of his award, Julius Fridriksson, PhD, was an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina. He had published over 40 articles on stroke recovery and related issues, and has been invited as keynote speaker to conferences throughout Europe. His research specialty area in neuroimaging of neural changes following behavioral intervention after stroke was funded by the NIH. Dr. Fridriksson served as an ad hoc member of the Language and Communication (LCOM) study section for NIH.

2012: Lorin F. Wilde, PhD, CCC-A (MS ’80), may have chosen the path not typically taken by speech pathologists and audiologists. Dr. Wilde received her PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1995. At the time of her award, she was the Senior Scientist at Speech Technology and Applied Research and adjunct professor at Boston University. Dr. Wilde was also Founder and Chief Technology Officer for Wilder Communications, INC. Her work included developing a mobile phone-based system for cough analysis supported by the Gates Foundation, and sound recognition and speaker identification to increase ROI from speech technology. Dr. Wilde was an international board member of the Applied Voice Input/Output Society.

2013: Sharon Hendrickson-Pfeil, MS, CCC-SLP (MS ’76) has worked tirelessly for individuals with disabilities in the United States, Mexico, and South America. Ms. Hendrickson-Pfeil was instrumental in the founding of St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic, which has seen 200 children a day once a month since 1977. Today, Clinica offers medical specialties, nutrition services, speech-language services, audiology, optometry, and occupational and physical therapy services. At the time of her award, she co-coordinated ¡Yo Sí Puedo!, a family-based bilingual AAC summer day camp co-sponsored by United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona, the Division of Developmental Disabilities, and the Sunnyside Unified School District. Ms. Hendrickson-Pfeil has provided clinical instruction to countless graduate students in speech-pathology, helping to train the next generation of bilingual SLPs in the Southwest.

2014: Shelley Gray, PhD, CCC-SLP (MS ’89, PhD ’98) has a long history with the University of Arizona, receiving all three of her degrees at this institution. At the time of her award, Dr. Gray was an associate professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science at Arizona State University. Her research emphases have included lexical acquisition in young children with typical development and language impairment, early literacy development and disorders, reading and writing development and disorders in school-age children, and development of language and literacy assessments and curricula. Dr. Gray has been passionate about mentoring; . she has mentored 22 doctoral students, 13 master’s theses, and directed 14 undergraduate honor’s theses. She has participated in the ASU Obama scholars mentoring program for four years, mentoring six undergraduate Obama scholars. Dr. Gray is an ASHA Fellow.

2015: Jose “Husi” Cazares, MA, MS, CCC-SLP, received his BS from SLHS in 1998 and a MA in Native American Studies at the UA in 2004. After completing his MS in speech pathology, he began his career as a tri-lingual speech-language pathologist, working primarily in health care settings. Over the years, Husi’s passion for sharing and preserving the O’odham language and culture has kept him actively teaching and writing. He has taught courses at all educational levels regarding Tohono O’odham Language, History, and Culture, and Native American History. He has the author of several books including the children’s book entitled Lessons from Hu’ul Ke:li (Lessons from My Grandfather), which he also illustrated.  Husi was honored in recognition of his contributions as a leader and role model.