Sue T. Hale – former president of the 167,000-member American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), former University of Mississippi (UM) professor and an Ole Miss alumna – is seeing her legacy expand, with news that a scholarship in her name has been created by former students, colleagues and her family.
The Sue T. Hale Scholarship Fund will assist academically deserving Ole Miss students pursuing degrees in the UM Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Other alumni, colleagues and friends are encouraged to help grow the scholarship endowment to honor Hale, who was a UM faculty member for 24 years and now serves as associate professor and director of clinical education in the Vanderbilt School of Medicine's Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences.
Hale recently delivered a guest lecture to Ole Miss graduate students where she was surprised with the scholarship announcement. Faculty and staff arranged for her husband, Lance, and children, Kimberly Hale of Centralia, Wash., and Scott Hale of Aspen-Snowmass, Colo., to be on hand.
"Learning that former students would establish the award and honor me by this means is so humbling," Hale said. "As I approach the end of my career and look back at so many wonderful and gratifying opportunities, I would say that having a scholarship in my name at the institution I love so much is the highest honor I could ever receive.
"Helping those we serve find or regain the sounds, words and thoughts they need to interact with the world, is a true calling," Hale said of being a part of the speech-language pathology and audiology profession. "The remarkable bonus to that great work is the opportunity to have students and colleagues who are like-minded and share your life's path."
Margaret Johnson, one of Hale's former students, headed up the scholarship initiative and called her former professor an "exemplary mentor." Johnson now serves as the department chair and associate professor of the Speech Language Pathology Program at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.
"Sue believes in giving back. Her philosophy is that when you have been a part of something great, then give back – whether it's an organization, a charity or whatever. Sue loves people and especially students; she has invested her life in helping others and, in particular, helping students find their way in communication sciences and disorders. I knew she would love to know that something would be in existence for years to come because of the influence she had on so many.
"I met Sue when I was 19 years old and she has always been a strong influence in my life," Johnson continued. "Sue cared enough about me as an undergraduate student to tell me and show me how much more my life and career could be if I would give one hundred percent of my effort. I was not the stellar undergraduate student that professors love. I was the challenge; I was the one that could have easily dropped through the cracks without encouragement. Sue continues to mentor me today; in my new position, she has helped by reading many documents and given me so many valuable ideas. She is a cherished friend."
Tommie L. Robinson, Jr. – another one of Hale's former Ole Miss students who happened to succeed her as national ASHA president – serves as the director of the Scottish Rite Center for Childhood Language Disorders at Children's National Health System and as an associate professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. He gives his mentor and colleague credit for his success.
"Having sat in Mrs. Hale's classes as an undergraduate and graduate student, I know first-hand what an engaging and wonderful teacher she is," he said. "I have had the opportunity to observe her both as a clinical instructor and as a speaker for national professional meetings. On each occasion, she has been scholarly, thorough and highly articulate. She has always received numerous unsolicited comments from her students and colleagues and they are unanimously laudatory, often citing her humor, command of the subject matter, excellent organizational skills and enthusiasm for the subject. Her genuine concern, warmth and sensitivity toward her students and colleagues engender their respect. I am who I am and where I am today because I had Mrs. Hale as a teacher and friend who was not only interested in me as a student but also as a person."
Hale grew up in rural Mississippi, attended a community college and then transferred to Ole Miss to complete undergraduate and master's degrees. The faculty recognized her potential and asked her to pursue an academic and clinical career on the Oxford campus.
"Ole Miss has a way of meeting you where you are and helping you develop into the person and professional that you should be. I learned so much about so many things during the time I was charged with education of our students. The people who were with me on that journey for more than two decades remain the faculty colleagues, former students and patients who influence me. I believe Ole Miss prepared me to join the Vanderbilt faculty, to contribute in a meaningful way and to serve in leadership in the larger professional community. Ole Miss also gave me a heart for service and opportunities to lead organizations and committees, experiences that prepared me for leadership roles.
"One of the most gratifying aspects of my teaching career is being able to help former students on their career paths – advising them, recommending them and suggesting them for leadership roles. I can't imagine anything better than knowing that your own work is carried forward in the lives of professionals who were your students," Hale said.
In addition to Hale's service in the national ASHA presidency, when she traveled extensively representing the organization at state, regional and international meetings, she is the chair-elect of ASHA's Council on Academic Accreditation. Hale has held three other major chairs in ASHA, served other professional associations and been selected for awards.
Gloria Kellum – UM's vice chancellor emerita for university relations, professor emerita in communicative disorders and recipient of ASHA's highest award for professional contributions – taught Hale and later became her colleague. "Sue has a deep intellectual capacity and a real heart for other people and found a profession, really a calling, where she can both serve people and educate and prepare others to do the same. Sue has mentored hundreds of students, and I wish I could adequately describe the far-reaching impact of her work and influence. It is very fitting for an individual who has contributed so much to have a scholarship named in her honor. In addition, through her national leadership roles, she has moved our profession forward in such positive ways, reflecting well on Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
"The graduates of the communication sciences and disorders department are a special group of alumni in the Ole Miss family. They are deeply committed to the university and to each other. We will come together to continue building this great tribute to Sue that will also provide assistance for talented students who follow in our footsteps."
Lennette Ivy, chair of UM's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, also reacted to the scholarship. "I am elated that the Sue T. Hale Scholarship has been established and that our students will benefit from this honor. Sue is one of the greatest ambassadors for the profession of communication sciences and disorders and the training of students. She had a major impact on my career, having taught me during my graduate training here at Ole Miss, and is responsible for me becoming a full-time employee at the university. Sue continues to be a mentor and a friend and is so deserving of this scholarship honor. She truly loves Ole Miss."
Individuals and organizations wishing to contribute to the Sue T. Hale Scholarship should send a check with the fund's name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; contact Michael Upton, development director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-3027; or visit www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.