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2010 News Releases

Longwood’s CSDS graduate program earns ASHA accreditation

November 3, 2010

Speech-Language Pathology Accreditation Logo

Longwood University's graduate program in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSDS) has earned accreditation from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA).  Founded in 1925, ASHA is the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 140,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists, speech-language pathologists and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Longwood's CSDS graduate program is the sixth program in the Commonwealth of Virginia to earn ASHA accreditation.

In 2005, Longwood's Board of Visitors approved the proposal for the CSDS graduate program. Since that time, the program has awarded graduate degrees to 28 students and 43 are currently enrolled (including nine out-of-state students and one international student). The graduate program has also promoted growth of the undergraduate program - from five students in 2005 to 100 students in 2010. In addition, more than 200 students enroll annually in Longwood's online speech-language courses in order to complete prerequisites that are needed prior to beginning graduate coursework.

Dr. Lissa Power-deFur, professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders and director of the Longwood Center for Communication, Literacy and Learning, said, "The faculty has worked hard to ensure that the program meets the rigorous academic and clinical standards for accreditation.  Students must meet more than 120 standards prior to graduation. We are proud to report that in addition to our graduates successfully meeting these standards, 100 percent of our graduates have passed the national certification examination and have become employed immediately upon graduation.  Currently, our graduates are working in public schools, hospitals, nursing facilities, and with home health providers throughout Virginia and the East Coast."

A celebration dinner was held in October with guests including Dr. Judy Johnson, associate professor emerita of kinesiology, Board of Visitors Distinguished Professor, and current chair of the CSDS Advisory Committee; Valerie St. John '97 of the Speech-Language-Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV); Dr. Daniel Halling, of the Council of Academic Accreditation for ASHA; and Longwood President Patrick Finnegan.

"Program change and program growth - resulting in accreditation in just five years - doesn't just happen," said Finnegan. "It is not automatic.  Instead, it requires a combination of leadership and teamwork, both of which have been very evident in conceiving, developing, and implementing this quality program."

Valerie H. St. John received her bachelor of science in speech-language pathology and audiology from Longwood in 1997 and her master of science in communication disorders from James Madison University in 1999. She serves as vice president for continuing education on SHAV's executive board and is employed by Blue Ridge Therapy Associates in Lynchburg.

"The majority of Southside Virginia is rural in nature," said St. John.  "As is the case in most rural areas, it is difficult to entice speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to work in those settings, unless the SLP is originally from that area.  Accreditation of the CSDS program at Longwood will now provide opportunities for more graduates to return to the rural areas of Southside Virginia to fill the need that exists there for qualified SLPs."  

"Longwood's graduate program not only provides training for the graduate students who are enrolled, it also provides many services to SLPs in the school systems located in the four counties that surround Farmville," said St. John.  "The graduate students perform screenings, evaluations, and prevention programs within the schools, which allow the school-based SLPs to provide better continuity of care to the students served within the school setting."

Judy Johnson served as a faculty member and administrator in the College of Education and Human Services for 33 years. In her introductory remarks at the dinner, she said, "I have never been associated with a more hard-working group, or with a group more committed to their profession and belief in the value of its services.  The professional expertise of these individuals is recognized throughout the Commonwealth and across the nation. They are devoted to Longwood and its students. They are positive, professional and ethical. The word 'quit' is not in their vocabulary and they maintain a positive, optimistic attitude regardless of the situation."