Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wedding Pictures!

Wedding PartyCaitlyn & BradFamily Picture (minus Jackson - he was asleep!)Mother and Daughters!Jackson in his tux!
Mother & Son

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Guess Who Is Coming to Tennessee?

Jackson! (And his mommy and daddy, too!) They will arrive tonight from Texas. And we are all ready for him with a clean car, car seat, & stroller. I love having a "Granny Car" complete with all the "accessories!" I never dreamed that being a grandma would be so much fun! I also borrowed a port-a-crib/playpen, and swing and all this stuff fills up my vehicle. There is hardly any room for the rest of us! In addition, I have formula, bottles, diapers and even a mini tuxedo for Jackson to wear this weekend. Steve and I can't wait to see our grandson again and have the rest of the family meet him! Brad (#3 son) is getting married on Saturday to his lovely fiancee, Caitlyn, and we are all headed to Kentucky for the wedding and celebration.

Right now the house is quiet with the dogs at the kennel and everyone gone. But we will soon hear the wonderful & precious sounds of laughter, babies, family, & friends at the wedding. And Brad & Caitlyn's wedding vows, the music that they've chosen, and the words of Pastor Jeff, who was Brad's youth pastor at our church.

On another note, my cell phone DIED yesterday. I just about DIED (pun intended) when it wouldn't power up or do anything. I never thought I would be so dependent on a phone after not being able to use it for years with my hearing loss. My replacement won't come for at least 5 days so I will be without a phone for the wedding weekend! I am using my old cell phone that I got two phones ago but it is so ancient compared to what I'm used to. I don't even want to carry it with me. I tried to call Brad last night with it and could barely hear with it. It does not have the M/T rating for my cochlear implants and it doesn't have speaker phone. But, I'll survive. Maybe this was supposed to happen for a reason so that I can concentrate on more important things.

I have several CI friends and bloggers who got cochlear implants this week and they are all doing well! (Five at last count.) One even went bilateral and got two at the same time and counted 30 staples in her head! I went to Knoxville this past Tuesday to sit with Karen's husband while she had her surgery and she did great. Am still waiting to hear updates from the others! I read a report recently that there are 130,000 cochlear implants WORLDWIDE today compared to 100,000 a few years ago. . . the number of patients has grown tremendously in the last few years. I've said this before and will say it again. . . "the time to hear is NOW." Life is too short and too precious to go without hearing the sounds and people around us. I hear the mourning doves, birds, and crickets outside all the time and smile. . .and am improving on the phone and in understanding what is being said on the radio. And I love listening to my iPod!

Blogging is a full time job and as you can see, I'm having a hard time doing updates. But I will write when I can. . . and will certainly post next week with wedding and baby pictures!

Friday, July 18, 2008

UT's Ear Pain

Note: This was published in the Knoxville (Tennessee) Metro Pulse publication on Wednesday, July 16th. . . very interesting.

UT's Ear Pain

The university's claimed savings from ASP program cuts are a charade

by: Joe Sullivan

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One need only visit the quarters of the University of Tennessee’s Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology (ASP) in the bowels of Neyland Stadium to realize it’s a stepchild in the UT College of Arts and Sciences. Despite the fact the department is highly regarded in its field and also provides much-needed clinical services, it doesn’t really fit or sit well in the college’s academic scheme of things.

Thus, it should have come as no surprise that, when faced with having to make cutbacks due to an $11.5 million cut in UT-Knoxville state funding, Arts and Sciences Dean Bruce Bursten should single out the ASP department for termination. What’s utterly astounding, though, is Bursten’s inept handling of the matter.

There are so many flaws in Bursten’s ill-informed and ill-advised decision, it’s hard to know where to start in listing them.

Probably the most flagrant was his unawareness of a long-standing contract with the Tennessee Hearing and Speech Foundation that commits the university to continue operating hearing and speech clinics that are an integral part of the department. This commitment binds the university until 2057 “to continue to operate the Hearing and Speech Center at the same or greater level of services to the public.”

If Bursten had consulted with the department’s head, Ilsa Schwarz, before making his termination decision, as he certainly should have, his blunder would have been avoided. But the first Schwarz learned of the decision was 20 minutes before Bursten announced it. This peremptory announcement stands in sharp contrast to the way in which programs proposed for termination have been afforded hearings in the past.

It’s true that UT was under pressure to act quickly to make cuts after Gov. Phil Bredesen imposed reductions in higher education funding for the coming year in May. UT President John Petersen had stipulated that these cuts be made “strategically” in the narrow rather than spreading them across the board in a way that would weaken the university as a whole.

But when faced with the commitment to the clinics and waves of protest from its users as well as other ASP stakeholders, Petersen backed off. On June 17, he announced postponement of programmatic cuts until October “to allow campus and system leadership additional time to seek faculty input and involvement.”

Clinic commitments aside, if Bursten’s claimed savings of $1,374,818 from termination of these programs were for real, they might be more telling at a time for hard decisions. But in fact, his claims are mostly a charade. In order to allow presently enrolled students to complete their degrees, only $182,431 in reductions would be realized in the first two years. The balance of the $1,374,818 would come from leaving 25 presently vacant faculty positions unfilled across the broad expanse of the Arts and Sciences Department—the very sort of across-the-board reductions that Petersen is seeking to avoid.

Even when the ASP programs are eliminated in subsequent years, the net savings to the university wouldn’t amount to much. According to Schwarz, annual tuitions paid by ASP students totaling nearly $1.6 million exceed the claimed savings.

Interim Chancellor Jan Simek contends, “The tuition issue is disingenuous because all students pay tuitions, and the tuitions fund the whole operation, not specific departments.” However, the ASP program is virtually self-contained; its 114 undergraduates and 111 graduate students take almost all of their courses and get their clinical training in the program and wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them. Moreover, university bean counters claim that $2 million of the $11.5 million budget cut will come from tuition derived from increased student retention rates and enrollment, which is to say they count tuition revenues when it serves their purposes and disregard them when it doesn’t.

The workings of the department and the clinics are intertwined. About half of the department’s 25 faculty members are primarily engaged in running the clinics and supervising the graduate students who staff them as an important part of their training. “Keeping the clinics without the department would be like keeping a chemistry lab without any chemists,” says Schwarz.

The cruelest cut of all is the deprivation that loss of the ASP programs would mean for East Tennesseans with hearing and speech impairments. The program’s graduates staff hospitals, stroke-rehabilitation centers, and school systems in meeting the requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Ironically, the proposed cuts come just as the state Legislature has enacted what’s known as Claire’s Law, which requires hearing-loss screening for every newborn in the state. This promises to add to one of the audiology clinic’s most important roles, which is fitting infants with hearing aids and also counseling their parents and otherwise nurturing their development.

Simek says he would like to see the ASP program continued—just not as part of UT-Knoxville. And it may well be that the program could find a better and more valued home under the aegis of the university’s Health Science Center. But it certainly needs to be sustained one way or another.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Showdown Over A Shutdown

Note: I have the author's permission to publish this wonderful and well written article here. This was in the July 15, 2008 edition of the ASHA Leader, the national publication of ASHA (American Speech-Hearing-Language Association) which has 130,000 members according to the website. I continue to stay busy advocating for this issue and am doing all I can to support this department. . . .

Showdown Over A Shutdown

Advocacy Gains Delay of CSD Program Closure at University of Tennessee

cite as: Moore, M. (2008, July 15). Showdown Over A Shutdown.
The ASHA Leader, 13(9), 1, 7.

by Marat Moore

Faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology (ASP) at the University of Tennessee (UT) galvanized community support to oppose a sudden threat to the department's survival and have—at least temporarily—succeeded.

On June 2, with no warning, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences informed department chair Ilsa Schwarz that the entire department—and the university's Speech and Hearing Center and its four associated community clinics—were targeted for closure as part of Gov. Phil Bredesen's 2009 state budget cuts.

"It was a complete shock," said Schwarz, who oversees the largest audiology and speech-language pathology program in the state, with 225 undergraduate and graduate students and 41 faculty and staff. The department awards six degrees—BAs in audiology and speech pathology, MAs in speech-language pathology and audiology, the AuD in audiology, and a PhD in speech and hearing science. The employment rates for master's, AuD, and PhD graduates continues to be 100%.

Closing UT's program would deepen the existing crisis of clinical and doctoral shortages in Knoxville, a city of 180,000—plus 26,000 UT students—and the region, Schwarz said. The department contracts with nine public school districts, and its network of clinics serves more than 2,000 clients each year from more than two dozen counties in East Tennessee and surrounding states.

"If this goes through, we will have less supply to meet the growing demand for speech-language pathology and audiology services," she said.

Overall the university faces $11.1 million in cuts, with nearly $1.4 million coming from the College of Arts and Sciences, which includes the ASP department. ASP is the biggest program on the university's chopping block; also targeted for closure are a dance program and a small graduate business program.

The university proposed a gradual phase-out of the ASP department. Tenured faculty would be retained and reassigned. Non-tenured faculty and staff would be allowed to work two more years, and the program would close in four years. Students who are entering or currently enrolled would be allowed to complete their studies before the program closes in four years.

"Our primary student concern is that, although the university has committed to seeing everyone through the program, they have not addressed the need to retain our accreditation, and the phase-out does not take into account the number of courses that need to be taught in years three and four," Schwarz said.

"The university also has not considered the need to keep our clinics open with a diverse client base past the second year," she said. "AuD students entering this year will be particularly disadvantaged because they will need an active clinic in their third year to get the hours in specific clinical areas."

Rationale and Rebuttal

Bruce Bursten, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences—the largest college on the Knoxville campus—proposed the closure of the ASP program. In a statement he gave three reasons: ASP's lack of impact on other programs and majors; UT's desire to preserve "regional strategic alliances" with entities such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the state's three other CSD programs (Memphis, Nashville, and Johnson City). These programs, however, have stated that they are unable to accommodate all the UT program's students and likely could not expand to meet the future deficit created by the UT closure.

The Council of Academic Programs in Communication Science and Disorders (CAPCSD), in a June 8 letter to Gov. Breseden, the UT president, chancellor, Board of Trustees, and Dean Bursten, offered compelling reasons to preserve the program:

  • Audiology and speech-language pathology are listed on every regional and national list of critical workforce needs. A critical shortage also exists of research scientists.
  • CSD programs sit "at the intersection of the social, behavioral and physical sciences" and can be found in schools of education, allied health, health and human performance, and arts and sciences.
  • The services provided by the speech and hearing clinics enable many clients to maintain employment and success in schools and workplaces—and save millions in state costs. UT scientists also contribute to the region in the areas of health and wellness research.

ASHA President Kate Gottfred also wrote to UT leaders in support of the ASP program, and noted that UT offers the only specialty training in aural rehabilitation in the state.

"The department is a referral source for many physicians and public schools in the region and its closure would create gaps in the quality and quantity of service," Gottfred said.

Grassroots Momentum

After the initial shock, the ASP department rallied. Organizers sent out a quick broadcast e-mail, and current and former clients, physicians, school districts, parents, local merchants, civic leaders, and alumni in the Knoxville area joined forces with faculty, students, and staff to speak up about the value of audiology and speech-language pathology services and training.

Parents wrote checks to support the effort and started online blogs. Students who had just graduated showed up to volunteer and spread the word about the growing controversy through Facebook and other social media outlets. An undergraduate's petition gathered 500 names.

Supporters began a Web site as an information clearinghouse. Letters poured in to UT's Board of Trustees, the chancellor, dean, and university president from physicians, current and former clients, school districts, hospital CEOs, and others to document the negative impact of shutting down the program.

"I am amazed at the number of people—who I had never heard of or known—who have come forward to support the department," said James Thelin, an assistant professor of audiology with 18 years' experience in the ASP program.

"The school districts were very worried about the impact on their workforce," Schwarz added. "Cochlear-implant surgeons were concerned that they would lose our aural rehabilitation services and mapping resources. I think the university grossly underestimated the impact of this move."

Local media ran frequent stories about the controversy, and letters to the editor and op-ed articles appeared almost daily. Students played a key role in energizing the community and getting the word out.

"The biggest student concern was our professors. We can't expect them to remain at UT and not pursue other job options while we finish our degrees," said Erin Carini, president of UT's chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and a second-year master's student in speech-language pathology.

Carini and other students, who have been interviewed by news outlets, painted the huge "rock" that acts as a campus message board and organized events like a "Chalk Walk," in which chalk messages are drawn in heavy traffic areas. "We believe that if we can educate people about who we are and what we do, the facts will speak for themselves," she said.

A Stay of Execution

On June 17 the UT president announced that the decision on "strategic cuts" will be delayed until October.

"We're relieved, but we know the battle isn't over," Schwarz said. "We will use this much-needed time to get our facts to the public and demonstrate our financial efficiency and value to the state. And we encourage our supporters to keep up their contacts with decision-makers at the university."

Marat Moore, managing editor of The ASHA Leader and a Tennessee native, can be reached at

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Please visit this website often to read updates and important information regarding the proposed shutdown of the UT Audiology and Speech Pathology program. (I have also provided a link in my sidebar on your right.)

SAVE UT Audiology & Speech Pathology Program

I am working hard on this issue and have made some wonderful contacts. And will continue to do so. I am passionate (along with many others) about saving this department and am doing all I can to help. The public outcry has been phenomenal and we hope it continues. What is interesting is that this department is being closed for economic reasons. But it will have a negative effect for many patients, students, professionals, and others in the community. It will also cause irreparable damage for the University and would not result in any long term savings. It will also affect their long standing reputation that they have in East Tennessee regarding the Arts and Sciences program. In fact, this department made a PROFIT of over $635,000 last year after all expenses, etc!!! I truly believe that it is possible that there is a way to compromise and have the result end in a win-win solution for everyone involved.

The UT Board of Trustees have postponed their decision until October while they can gather more information and get more facts. They will meet again on October 23rd and 24th. I and other supporters would really appreciate it if you would contact the UT Board of Trustees Office at 719 Andy Holt Tower, Knoxville, TN 37996. You may also write an email to the University's Secretary, Lisa Hertz at She will forward any emails and letters to the UT President and Board of Trustee members.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The People I Meet - Valerie

Last Saturday I had an opportunity to meet a new CI blogging friend, Valerie! She has a blog at Tales from a CI Gal so go visit her! She and her daughter, Jenna, were in Gatlinburg last weekend for a dance competition. I love meeting new people, especially those that I've met through blogging and the Internet. I had a beautiful drive through the Smoky Mountains on the way there and back and appreciated getting away for a day. It took me just over an hour to get there from my house. We met for lunch at a noisy Cracker Barrel in Pigeon Forge and had a wonderful time.

Valerie has bilateral cochlear implants and is approaching her one year anniversary date on July 19th. The one thing different about Valerie's bilateral implants is that she had them done at the same time. There aren't too many adults that get bilateral implants simultaneously. Her insurance company denied her request for cochlear implants at least seven times before they finally approved them. She said her recovery was rough. I had enough trouble recuperating from cochlear implant surgery on one ear. I cannot imagine what it would be like recovering after having two done at once!

Her hearing loss journey is so similar to mine and we could have talked for hours! She is such a sweet person and I was so glad to have the opportunity to meet her! I felt like I was meeting a friend that I had known for a long time. We couldn't talk long because Jenna wanted to play miniature golf and do some shopping before they went back home to Nashville. I needed to get home, too, because my husband was flying home from a trip and I hadn't seen him for almost three weeks! But, we made the most of our visit and promised to meet again!

Laurie and ValerieJenna and Valerie
I love this picture of Jenna and Valerie. In fact, I loved watching their mother/daughter relationship as we visited and ate lunch together. Jenna is very understanding and supportive of her mom's hearing loss and shares her joy of hearing with her. She makes sure her mom can understand her, isn't lazy with her speech, and articulates her words very well. She'll tap Valerie on the shoulder if she wants to tell her something. It reminded me of how my children thoughtfully communicated with me in their younger years. And how they have always been there for me and supported me when I couldn't hear. I loved talking and interacting with Jenna, too, and think she is such a doll!