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History of PSU's Speech and Hearing Sciences Department

The early leaders of the Program were Robert English, Director; Robert Casteel, Clinic Director; and James Maurer, Head of Audiology. The Speech and Hearing Sciences Department has its roots in the Portland Extension Center which first offered courses in Speech-Language Pathology in 1956, and later in Audiology. Robert Casteel began teaching courses for the center in 1956 followed by Robert English in 1958, Edward Stone in 1964, James Maurer in 1964, and Paul Ventura (AUD) in 1968.

In 1956, a deal was worked out with Herold Lillywhite of Crippled Children’s Division (CCD, now Child Development and Rehabilitation Center) which was affiliated with Oregon Medical School (now Oregon Health Sciences University). The Speech and Hearing clinics were run at CCD during the 9-month academic year and later (circa 1964) in the summers at Portland State College (PSC) in Shattuck Hall.

The PSC Speech and Hearing Sciences Program was founded by Robert English in fall, 1964. English received a Personnel Preparation federal grant to hire Casteel. At the time, English was finishing his doctorate at the University of Oregon and Casteel was just beginning his doctoral work. The Program was under the auspices of the Department of Speech at PSC which was housed in the basement of Neuberger Hall which was only half built. The fact that Neuberger Hall was erected in two sections accounts for the odd numbering system in the building. Two programs comprised the Department: General Speech (now Communication Studies) and Speech and Hearing Sciences. The Department was initially chaired by Frank Gibson. Subsequently, the Department was chaired by Ben Padrow, from 1966-69, co-chaired by Robert Casteel and Pat Marsh from 1969-1970, and by Robert Vogelsang, beginning in 1970. Steve MacFarlane joined the faculty in 1970 and Joan McMahon and Mary Gordon (now Gordon-Brannan) came in 1972 with Gordon replacing MacFarlane who went to University of Washington to pursue his doctorate.

The first students in the Program at Portland State were Daryl Anderson, Diane Disselhorst, Al Lavarato, Joan McMahon, Steve MacFarlane, and Rodney Pelson. Four of these students continued their education in the profession to earn PhDs. Beverley Dixon earned the first master’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences at Portland State.

Early growth of the Program came about largely because of federal grant funding through the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped. During that time, we had the first of our site visitations for the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) accreditation which has maintained continuously since then. Portland State was the only accredited program (out of 5 programs) in Oregon for 30 years. The Program evolved to become a department in 2005.

Many thanks to Mary Gordon-Brannan for sharing this history.