by Christi Mathis
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Rehabilitation Institute recently named the recipients of the inaugural Dr. Mark and Susan Ashley Endowed Professorship of Audiology and Dr. Mark and Susan Ashley Endowed Professorship of Speech Pathology.
The professorships bear the names of alumni Mark and Sue Ashley and the recipients are Sandie M. Bass-Ringdahl and Kenneth O. Simpson. The Ashleys recently provided funding to endow the professorships.
“Mark and Susan Ashley have expressed a great deal of appreciation for the education they received at SIU Carbondale. Their support demonstrates a desire to afford students who follow them with that same opportunity. It also provides the University with resources to recognize outstanding professors who are mentoring our young people. We are honored by the generosity exhibited by Mark and Susan Ashley,” said Jeff Lorber, associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement and executive director of development for the SIU Foundation.
Bass-Ringdahl and Simpson recently received $5,000 with the funds earmarked for research, professional development and travel. Bass-Ringdahl is an assistant professor of audiology while Simpson is an associate professor of speech pathology.
“We are very pleased to provide this important support to the University and the Rehabilitation Institute. SIU has a proud and rich tradition in both education and clinical interventions for people with disabilities. Our career success derives from our experiences at SIU and it is only fitting that we enable these professorships,” Mark Ashley said.
Ashley earned his master’s degree in speech pathology at SIU Carbondale and while a graduate student, worked at the Center for Comprehensive Services. After graduation, he founded the Centre for Neuro Skills (CNS) in 1980 in Bakersfield, Calif., continuing his work providing services to people with brain injuries. He is currently president. Susan Ashley, vice president of the Centre for Neuro Skills, also earned her master’s degree in communication disorders and sciences at SIU Carbondale.
According to John J. Benshoff, interim dean of the College of Education and Human Services, the endowment allowed the college to attract Bass-Ringdahl to the faculty, opening a new dimension at the Center for Communication Disorders, as well as to provide a stipend to Simpson for his leadership and work.
Carl Flowers, acting director of the Rehabilitation Institute, said Bass-Ringdahl and Simpson are the first endowed professorships for the College of Education and Human Services.
“Mark and Susan’s support of the Rehabilitation Institute, in the form of the endowed professorships, is very much appreciated by the college as well as by the Rehabilitation Institute faculty, staff and students,” Flowers said.
Bass-Ringdahl earned her doctorate in speech and hearing science in 2002 at the University of Iowa. She earned a master’s degree in audiology from Louisiana State University and a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology from the University of Florida. Before joining the SIU Carbondale faculty, she held a number of teaching and research positions at the University of Iowa between 1998 and 2011, most recently as an assistant professor in communication sciences and disorders.
She previously held positions in audiology as well and is a licensed audiologist in Iowa. Her research interests include early speech development in young children with hearing loss, cochlear implants and early identification and intervention for those with hearing impairment.
Simpson holds a doctorate in speech/language pathology from the University of Nebraska in 1995. He earned his master’s degree in communication disorders and sciences and his bachelor’s degree in psychology education at the University of South Dakota. He joined the faculty at SIU Carbondale in 1994.
Simpson was the Rehabilitation Institute’s Teacher of the Year in 1998 and is program director for both the undergraduate and graduate communication disorders and sciences programs. Prior to joining the SIU Carbondale faculty, Simpson was a public school speech/language pathologist for 12 years in Iowa. He is a certified speech-language pathologist and his primary research interests include augmentative and alternative communication, interaction analysis and the social use of language by those with severe expressive communication impairment.
The Ashleys now have three CNS facilities in California and Texas, employing hundreds of people with clientele from a wide area. A few years ago, the CNS clinical research and education foundation began its efforts toward the furtherance of brain injury research efforts. The Ashley professorships are but the latest example of the commitment the couple has to its alma mater. Each year an outstanding Communication Disorders and Sciences graduate student in the College of Education and Human Services receives the Mark and Sue Ashley Scholarship during the Guy A. Renzaglia Lecture and Rehabilitation Awards Ceremony in late spring.
In addition, Mark Ashley has published jointly with a number of University faculty members while CNS has also offered internships and post-doctoral fellowships to SIU Carbondale students. In addition, there have been joint research efforts between CNS and University faculty and students.
SIU Carbondale awarded Ashley an honorary doctorate of science in 2002 and he earned recognition as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 1995 from the Rehabilitation Institute’s Communication Disorders and Sciences Program. He serves on the Brain Injury Association of America’s board of directors were he is immediate past chair and part of the Chairman’s Circle. He is also chair of the California Brain Injury Association’s board of directors.