Alumnus Puts Purdue Program on Fast Track Purdue University’s Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences recently received an unprecedented $10 million gift from a former speech-language pathologist and Purdue alumnus. The gift will be used toward the construction of the new Lyles-Porter Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences facility, which will house the department’s research labs, preschool, ... Features
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Features  |   March 01, 2010
Alumnus Puts Purdue Program on Fast Track
Author Notes
  • Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.
    Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.×
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Features
Features   |   March 01, 2010
Alumnus Puts Purdue Program on Fast Track
The ASHA Leader, March 2010, Vol. 15, 33. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.15032010.33
The ASHA Leader, March 2010, Vol. 15, 33. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.15032010.33
Purdue University’s Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences recently received an unprecedented $10 million gift from a former speech-language pathologist and Purdue alumnus. The gift will be used toward the construction of the new Lyles-Porter Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences facility, which will house the department’s research labs, preschool, and outpatient clinics.
The gift came from Marybeth Lyles Higuera, a fourth-generation alumnus of the West Lafayette, Ind., university, who graduated in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology.
“I was blown away,” said Robert Novak, ASHA Fellow and department head. “I had written two proposals, one for the building and one for a possible endowed chair. We were hoping for $5 million. Then she [Higuera] gave us $10 million. Everyone is very excited.”
The department, housed in the College of Liberal Arts, is home to 22 tenure-track faculty, 15 clinical faculty and staff, 260 undergraduates, and more than 100 graduate students. Overall, about 1,500 Purdue students enroll in the department’s classes; in its 75-year history, the department has graduated approximately 3,600. The department is located in the basement and other parts of an older university building, which has only one accessible entrance and an elevator that “sometimes works, sometimes not,” making it difficult for some patients to access the clinics. The new facility, which will be approximately 40,000 square feet and cost almost $25 million to complete, will not only enhance accessibility, Novak said, but also could provide a significant boost for the department and its research capabilities.
“Looking back, we’ve made lemonade out of lemons and have done well, but when you look at our peers who are ahead of us, they all have their own facilities where all aspects of the programs are integrated,” Novak said. “This is where we need to go next.”
Higuera, who also completed a master’s degree in audiology at California State University of Long Beach, practiced as an SLP in California public schools and eventually established her own private practice. As a speech-language pathology major at Purdue in the 1950s, she recalls having received stellar training and credits the department for preparing her for a successful career.
“When I came to California, I had a good education and felt I could handle whatever was thrown at me,” Higuera said in an interview with The ASHA Leader. “I want the students of Purdue to have the opportunity to have as good of an education as I had. I’m hoping that Purdue can continue to be a leader in the field and not be hindered by outdated facilities.”
Completion of the Lyles-Porter Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences facility will take five years. Although the $10 million will go a long way, the department still must raise the additional $15 million to complete the project.
“It’s going to be a transformational gift that’s going to put Purdue on the fast track,” Novak said. “It’s one of the largest gifts we’ve received here at Purdue, and I hope it will encourage others with the capacity to give to help us raise the remaining funds.”
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March 2010
Volume 15, Issue 3