Education Dedication Eleanor Silverman devotes her considerable energy to promoting and supporting higher education. In the Limelight
In the Limelight  |   February 01, 2015
Education Dedication
Author Notes
  • Shelley D. Hutchins is content producer/editor for The ASHA Leader.
    Shelley D. Hutchins is content producer/editor for The ASHA Leader.×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   February 01, 2015
Education Dedication
The ASHA Leader, February 2015, Vol. 20, 22-23. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.20022015.22
The ASHA Leader, February 2015, Vol. 20, 22-23. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.20022015.22
Name: Eleanor Silverman, MA, CCC-SLP
Title: Clinical associate professor, Department of Neurology, New York University School of Medicine
Eleanor Tobis Silverman lives just blocks from Central Park—a prime location that allows her to walk to the college courses she takes at Fordham University and easily indulge in the nearby arts scene.
The mother of two also does pro bono work to help foreign-born professors with effective communication and she reviews papers submitted by students at City College of New York who receive research scholarships. It’d be a busy schedule for anyone, but consider this: Silverman, a “retired” speech-language pathologist, is about to celebrate her 97th birthday. Her lengthy career includes stints as a college professor, clinical researcher, health department consultant, private practitioner and school-based SLP.
Oh, and those research scholarships? They’re in her name.
Having a packed schedule is nothing new to Silverman. Once her children were in school all day, this daughter of a well-educated European immigrant went back to school to complete the six hours she needed for her master’s in speech-language pathology. In addition to earning her master’s from Brooklyn College in 1953, Silverman ended up also doing all of the coursework for her doctorate, but “I never finished my thesis,” she chuckles.
Her father was the reason she went into communication sciences disorders. “One morning before school, when I was about 7,” she shares, “he asked me to go upstairs and get him a tin cup. I searched and searched and couldn’t find a tin cup, so I came downstairs very frustrated, until he explained that he wanted a thin cup.”
That minor miscommunication inspired her to become an SLP. Her father’s high regard for education motivated her to a 63-year career in the Great Neck, New York, school system, Hofstra University, Nassau County Department of Health, New York University and The City College of New York.
Among her many career highlights, Silverman recounts years at NYU as some of her favorite. She taught in the dentistry and neurology departments for nearly two decades. In addition to her teaching, Silverman worked with her husband—a prosthodontist and and eventual chief of the prosthodontics department of the dentistry school—on developing a cleft palate clinic. She consulted for teams developing dental prostheses, advising them on shape and thickness to help patients correctly articulate. “My husband and I married speech to dentistry,” Silverman says.
One of her proudest achievements came after moving into the neurology department, however. “I helped start the school’s first speech and language clinic with audiologist Alice Berkowitz,” Silverman declares.
Silverman worked in NYU’s Department of Neurology until her official retirement just a few years ago. During her tenure there she focused on communication issues and recovery treatments for people with traumatic brain injuries. Silverman directed the speech and hearing clinic, conducted clinical research, taught, contributed to professional publications, gave professional and public presentations, and participated on panels—all driven by the “goal of furthering the profession of speech and language pathology.”
Educating and mentoring future CSD professionals remains one of Silverman’s most ardent passions. In addition to the City College research grant in her name, she recently received an award from NYU’s Department of Neurology for another scholarship she founded.
Her daughters—who both have doctorates—also benefitted from Silverman’s legacy of encouraging lifelong education. “My oldest daughter, Beth Silverman Yam, just called and is on her way to speak to a group of 40 women. She works as the clinical director of an agency [striving to end] domestic violence,” the proud mom says. “Deborah DeZure—my youngest—is an assistant provost at Michigan State University and she runs workshops on how to improve the education of professors.”
Of course, Silverman brags about her grandchildren: One teaches advanced-placement English in Seattle and another is studying the Ebola virus at the National Institutes of Health.
When asked about personal highlights from her long, distinguished livelihood, Silverman doesn’t discuss her publications, speeches or awards. She remembers the people. “I always found every client I worked with a challenge and all were able to show increments of improvement,” Silverman recalls, adding that “the profession is quite remarkable and I’ve recommended it to many people. It’s been a lovely career.”
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February 2015
Volume 20, Issue 2