Association News

Published on September 12th, 2019


UBC’s School of Audiology and Speech Sciences Celebrates 50 Years

Article provided by The University of British Columbia’s School of Audiology and Speech Sciences

This year the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) School of Audiology and Speech Sciences (SASS) is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a leader in educating audiologists and speech-language pathologists, as well as in research in communication and related disorders. As the only program in British Columbia to educate audiologists and speech-language pathologists, the School offers two degrees: the Master of Science (M.Sc.) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The School is known for its strong theoretical component, its thorough community-based clinical education and its stunning location on UBC’s Point Grey campus in Vancouver.

What have the past 50 years looked like?

Under the leadership of Dr. John Gilbert in 1969, SASS was first established as a division of the Department of Paediatrics in the UBC Faculty of Medicine. Until the School moved into the new James Mather Building in 1972, its office and lab were in two rooms on the second floor of a commercial building in University Village, accommodating four faculty members and, in the first year, six students.

The division achieved independent status as a School in 1981, but remained small. Over its first 20 years, the School’s size slowly grew to six faculty members and an average class size of 12. For 13 years, the program was funded by private donations and research grants alone, but in 1982 UBC assumed responsibility for a portion of the budget and salaries. Six years later, SASS won a Funds for Excellence Award from the Province of British Columbia, which allowed the School to double enrolment and add new faculty members.

Over the subsequent years, SASS experienced modest growth until the 2015–2016 BC Government-funded seat expansion for speech-language pathology students. With this expansion, the School now enrolls 48 students each year in the 2-year MSc program, which is supported by 18 University-based full- and part-time faculty and more than 500 clinical faculty in the community. Beyond the M.Sc. program, the School has a cohort of PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars.

Following decades of being situated in extremely limited space in the now-demolished James Mather Building (with the later addition of two portable classrooms), the School relocated in 2008 to the renovated teaching and research spaces in the Friedman Building. Dr. Jeff Small currently serves as Director of the School.

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Celebrating on September 13, 2019!

The School’s community will gather on the second Friday of September to celebrate the 50th anniversary with a day of events. The festivities will include an open house at the Friedman Building where guests will be able to tour the upgraded facilities and spend time meeting with faculty, alumni and practitioners. Later in the day we will host discipline-related lectures by eminent scholars, including Dr. Jean-Pierre Gagné (Audiology) and Dr. Carol Stoel Gammon (S-LP), a poster session and a gala dinner with entertainment at UBC’s new Robert H Lee Alumni Centre. School founder John Gilbert will be in attendance to give a brief history of the School. All alumni, faculty, clinical faculty, students, and staff (and their partners) are welcome.

Those at the School look forward to this opportunity to remember and celebrate what SASS has achieved over the years and to imagine what opportunities and advances the next 50 years could bring.

To learn more about SASS’ 50th anniversary, please click here:

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