Alumni and Awards

Giving out our annual school awards and scholarships is a much-anticipated part of the Friday luncheon each year at the Mid-South Conference. However, some people may not realize that each of the awards and scholarships were created in honor or in memory of a former faculty member or student in the School of Communication Sciences & Disorders. In this article, we detail who these folks are or were and their unique contributions to the school. Marilyn Wark, our long time Director of Clinical Services in Speech Language Pathology also shares some fun anecdotes of those whom the awards were named for.

Louise Ward

Louise Ward was a professor and coordinated clinical training in the SLP program for seventeen years. Louise’s professional focus was client-centered therapy and communicative interaction, and she was especially interested in parental involvement in the clinical process. She is remembered as someone who valued students’ unique strengths and encouraged them to use these strengths in the clinic. 

“Louise was a very wise person and focused on helping people see their potential. I can remember her guiding me through a tough time in my life. One session was very hard, and she said “Marilyn, growth is painful”, I immediately begged her to not make me grow anymore. We both laughed and then she picked up where we left off.” 

Louise often shared pearls of wisdom: “Do the needful”, “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides”, “Sometimes life conspires against you”, “Freedom is known by the limits in which it is bound”, “Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness”, “I’m glad you were born”, “Dream high, far, wide, and handsome”, and “Whenever I feel out of control, I clean my kitchen…that puts me in control.””

Marion G. Evans/Exchange Club of East Memphis

The Marion G. Evans Award is given to a third-year doctor of audiology student who exhibits excellent clinical and academic performance, as well as a commitment to pediatric audiology. Marion G. Evans is the only person with a school award named after them who was not a faculty member or alumni of our program. He was an attorney, a member of the State legislature and served as the assistant city attorney.

The award was originally funded by the local chapter of Quota International. Their mission is ‘empowering women, children, the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and people with speech difficulties in local communities around the world’.  

The Exchange Club of Memphis was one of the organizations that started the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center in the late 1940s.

Marion Hammett

Marion Hammett was an alumna of University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a faculty member of the CSD department from 1993 to 2010. Our current students benefit from a partnership she helped establish whenever they perform hearing and speech screenings for children in Memphis area Head Start programs. She was a prominent advocate for Speech-Language Pathology at the state and federal level. She was named an ASHA fellow and always strove to make a difference in her clients’ lives. 

“Marion was full of life and energy. When she interviewed for the position, she spent the day meeting with everyone and touring the MSHC (two locations). As Marilyn Wark recalls, “By the end of the day, I was exhausted, but she was still going strong. I remember thinking that she would be an excellent clinical educator, but that I was not sure I would be able to keep up with her.” She was an amazing mentor to students and went above and beyond to serve students, clients, and the profession.”

Ali Danesh

Dr. Ali Danesh earned his PhD with an emphasis in auditory electrophysiology under the direction of Dr. Herbert Gould in 1998. He is currently a professor of Audiology at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL and holds a second appointment as Professor of Biomedical Sciences at FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. Dr. Danesh's research interests are in the areas of tinnitus, hyperacusis, auditory evoked potentials, auditory processing disorders, auditory responses in both normal and pathological populations, vestibular assessment, and diagnostic/rehabilitative audiology. Dr. Danesh has presented at many scientific conventions and has published in numerous professional and scientific journals. The Dr. Ali A. Danesh Award for Academic Excellence goes to a second-year audiology student who maintains a high level of academic achievement.

Herbert J. Gould

This award was made possible by a contribution from Dr. Ali Danesh in honor of his doctoral mentor. Dr. Herb Gould earned his PhD in 1975 at the University of Illinois. He was a faculty member in the Audiology program from 1987 until his retirement in 2017. During his tenure, he served in several leadership positions including Director of the Audiology program. The Dr. Herbert J. Gould Award for Research Excellence is given to a doctoral student who exhibits excellence in audiology research—especially in the areas of auditory processing and clinical electrophysiology.

Marilyn recalls fond memories of Herb. “He loved what he did and discovering new methods of study and technology. He also loved a good magic trick and often would share a card trick in the classroom, Mid-South Speakers Dinner, or hallway. One time it involved a goldfish, but that one did not go so well (for the fish).”

Sallie Hillard

Sallie Hillard began her career at the University of Memphis in 1971. She spent twenty-two years as a clinical educator, and she is remembered for her passion for helping clients succeed and her ability to be a supportive mentor. She created new and innovative programs for clients at MSHC, including the preschool language program and a program for adults who stutter. 

“Sallie was known by those around her as full of life and a fierce advocate for people and things that others may have given up on. Sallie was a dear friend and colleague. She was a student of Louise Ward and Betty Webster and continued the legacy of the Communicative Interaction course after Louise and Brenda Antwine retired. She led the clinical education portion of the School’s Diversity Grant in the mid 90’s and was a mentor to us all. My fondest memories are sitting on her couch in her office on Friday afternoons sharing a cup of tea and solving the problems of the world and the MSHC. When she died, someone reflected that each person had a unique relationship with Sallie; she was special that way.”

Malcolm Fraser

Malcolm Fraser is widely known for creating the Stuttering Foundation of America and publishing “Self-Therapy for the Stutterer.” The Fraser award is given to someone who, like Malcolm, is not a speech pathologist or audiologist. However, this person aids in the mission of the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center in serving those with communication disorders.  

Mr. Fraser was a longtime member of the Memphis Speech & Hearing Center, Inc., Board of Directors. While he lived in Memphis, his service to those who stutter was nationwide and his efforts are still evident as his daughter continues his work. 

Dr. Maurice Mendel, former Dean of the School and Director of the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center, shared these memories of Mr. Fraser, who served on the Board of Directors from the time of Dr. Mendel’s arrival in 1988 until shortly before Mr. Fraser passed away in 1994.  

“When Malcolm would attend the Board meetings, he would sit quietly at the table with his head down. The Board would frequently be discussing some financial issue and going back and forth whether we had sufficient funds to cover the expenditure and whether it was justified. After the lengthy discussion, in which he didn’t participate, in a quiet voice, Malcolm would ask, “How much do you need?” He would then say that he would write a check, and that would end the discussion.

After our Board meetings, I would escort Malcolm down the hall to where one of the other Board Members was waiting to drive him home.  As we would slowly make our way down the hall, Malcolm would always say, “Getting old is miserable, but it sure beats the alternative.””

Elizabeth J. Webster

Elizabeth J. Webster, PhD, was one of the founding faculty in program at what was Memphis State University in 1970. She taught the counseling coursework and ran groups for the parents of young clients in the clinic. Her areas of study centered around counseling and clinical supervision. To honor Betty, The Webster Institute was created to provide funds to support continuing education in counseling and supervision. 

Marilyn reflected that, “Betty taught me how to listen and the value of silence. She was an artful counselor who put you at ease quickly and was always open to hear what you had to say. I can remember sitting in sessions with her trying to anticipate how she was going to respond to a parent/client and each time after hearing her response thinking, ‘I never would have gone there, but that was brilliant.’”