Celebrating 50 Years of ASHA Accreditation

Black and white photo side-by-side with a current photo, of student clinicians doing word-retrieval task with young clients.

This year, the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders has much to celebrate as it reaches a prestigious milestone of 50 years of accreditation for the graduate program in speech-language pathology. This legacy allows the department to continue its mission of providing the best educational experience for its students.

Foundation of a department

The major in Speech Correction was first offered in 1946-47 when the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was still the Milwaukee State Teachers College. Almost twenty years later, in 1964-65, the UWM master’s degree in Speech, with a specialization in Speech Pathology, was approved by the UW System Board of Regents.

In 1967, the Department of Speech was renamed the Department of Communication. The program, the Speech Clinic and the Hearing Evaluation Center were housed in the Department of Communication in the College of Letters and Science.

Later, in 1975-76 the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology was one of the two founding departments of the School of Allied Health Professions which was the precursor to what we now know today as the College of Health Sciences.  In 1990, the department was officially approved to become today’s Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders.

Value of Accreditation

As the department continued to grow and evolve, an application was submitted on August 15, 1968, for the master’s in speech-language pathology program to be listed in the roster of accredited training programs of the American Speech and Hearing Association.  After the examining board’s rigorous review and site visit, the program was granted accreditation in 1969, thanks largely to the program director of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Ralph Leutenegger, PhD.

Since then, the program at UW-Milwaukee has embraced the aims of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), whose stated vision is “Making effective communication, a human right, accessible and achievable by all.” Those graduate programs who have achieved ASHA accreditation have volunteered to meet rigorous academic and professional standards that, in turn, assures their students of the potential to fulfill national certification requirements.

The graduates of programs that have been accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and expertise to provide high-quality clinical services, and they actively engage in ongoing professional development to keep their certification current.

Living a Legacy

After more than 50 years, the department and the Speech and Language Clinic are thriving. Today, the master’s in speech-language pathology program ranks in the top 28% of the 249 nationally ranked programs according to the most recent US News and World Report. The highly successful master program’s graduates have a 100% pass rate for the Praxis exam on the first try.

The Speech and Language Clinic continues to be a vital resource for UWM’s campus and the surrounding community. The Clinic provides evaluation and treatment services to children and adults who have a variety of communication disorders, including articulation, phonology, language, fluency and voice.

Associate Professor and Department Chair, Carol Seery, PhD, CCC-SLP, stated, “We are tremendously proud of the hundreds of students who began their careers in speech-language pathology at this program.  We are celebrating these graduates who now serve the community with their knowledge of how to help those with communication and swallowing disorders.”