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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI names clinic for program's late founder, leader in field of speech disorders

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

Two students awarded first Beaupre scholarships

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 23, 2004 -- The University of Rhode Island's Department of Communicative Disorders has given an official name to the clinic that provides a broad range of speech-language and hearing services to clients of all ages and clearly reflects the devotion of its namesake, the late Dr. Walter J. Beaupre.

A celebration was held today to name the "Walter J. Beaupre Speech and Hearing Center" now located in the Independence Square II facility on the University's Kingston Campus. Gov. Donald Carcieri, URI President Robert L. Carothers, and Department Chair Jay Singer spoke at the ceremony and announced the first two Beaupre Scholars.

"Dr. Beaupre exemplified URI's commitment to service, especially to those in our state," said URI President Robert L. Carothers. "Thousands of Rhode Islanders have benefited from his passion for helping individuals with speech and hearing difficulties. We are proud to honor his legacy in the naming of this clinic and to point to him as a shining example to our students."

Beaupre's family established a charitable trust from which income supports endowed scholarships for students and equipment needs for the speech clinic. Junior Maura Curran of Long Valley, N.J., and graduate student Allan Shaw of Cranston, R.I., are the first Beaupre scholars.

"Dr. Beaupre was a vital part of the inception of this department in 1968 and its growth into the center we have here today. He worked with thousands of undergraduate and graduate students until his retirement in 1995," said Professor Singer. "His family has provided the opportunity for students today and tomorrow to understand his dedication to the profession and to the study and development of new treatment methods. We are very grateful for their support."

The Walter J. Beaupre Speech and Hearing Center is a pivotal part of the University's related degree programs and of the outreach services provided to Rhode Islanders. The University is the only college or university in the state to offer graduate degree programs in speech pathology and audiology through the College of Human Science and Services. Accredited by the American Speech-Language -Hearing Association in 1985, the program currently enrolls about 90 undergraduate and 60 graduate students.

Last year the R.I. Board of Governors for Higher Education approved the center's move to the Independence Square building from offices in Adams (residence) Hall. The department completed its move in January 2003.

According to Clinical Director and Clinical Assistant Professor Elizabeth Connors, the Center provides hearing testing for about 600 people each year as well as hearing aid assistance for several hundred clients. In addition, about 40 evaluations are conducted annually related to speech therapy needs and approximately 60 clients per year are seen for on-going therapeutic services in the areas of speech and language. The move to Independence Square improved access and availability for clients statewide.

"Having had the pleasure of working with Dr. Beaupre within the department and in the clinical setting, I'm sure he would be very pleased and proud of the ability we now have to provide services to the community while providing our students with the hands-on experience and training all within a top-notch clinical setting," said Connors who worked with Dr. Beaupre for about nine years before his retirement in 1995.

Beaupre began teaching courses in phonetics, voice disorders, alaryngeal speech, and gestural communication at the University in 1968. He was nationally known for his work on clinical methods for improving voice/speech instruction for the deaf using "Cued Speech," the system of hand cues used to describe the sounds of American English.

Beaupre wrote the Gaining Cued Speech Proficiency manual, first published in 1984, which is still considered to be a leading text in the field. During 20 years of teaching at URI, more than 1,000 undergraduate majors in communicative disorders achieved at least minimal mastery of cued speech. When the National Cued Speech Association was formed, he served as editor of the first issues of the Cued Speech Annual. Even after retiring from the University, Beaupre mastered yet another form of communication, writing for the Internet. He created web pages for most of the College of Human Science and Services departments and for the URI varsity swimming and diving teams.

The Department of Communicative Disorders offers academic and clinical programs that can lead to the B.S. in Communicative Disorders, M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology and Clinical Doctorate in Audiology. Certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to practice speech-language pathology requires completion of a master's degree from an accredited institution and 350 hours of supervised clinical training