Tell us about the Doris B. Hawthorne Center for Communicative disorders.

Mrs. Hawthorne established a million-dollar chair and five professorships, and that was a huge turning point for the Department. Even though a Center is an official designation from the Board of Regents, it doesn't have an independent operating budget, so we run it out of Communicative Disorders. Martin Ball is the Director, and he wants to expand the scope of the Center and use it to increase the education of the professionals in the local area, and make the Center a contact point between UL and the community, particularly in the areas of special education & literacy.

Really, the Hawthorne endowment created a lot of opportunities. Ten years after I arrived, in 2001, we established the doctoral program in Applied Language and Speech Sciences, and since that time we've already graduated 11 students... which is pretty impressive when you realize that you need a few years to recruit a good crop of students, particularly to a new program with no doctoral track record, and that it usually takes about 4 years to complete a PhD. We will probably graduate another 6 PhD's this semester, and every one of our graduates has gotten a university appointment or a research position, all over the US. The majority of our graduates have come from outside of Louisiana, many of them from overseas, including the United Kingdom, Turkey, Israel, Malaysia, Hungary, and of course, from all over the USA. And we've recruited students from some impressive institutions: University of Pennsylvania, University of Arizona, University of York, SUNY Stony Brook, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin, Rutgers, and the University of Texas, as well as from several Louisiana colleges.

We also publish two international journals from the Center, Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics and The Journal of Multilingual Communication Disorders.

The Hawthorne gift also allowed us to recruit a really fine faculty. So we have a very, very productive group of scholars here. We have researchers and scholars who truly care about teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. And we have excellent undergraduate students, particularly at the junior and senior level when they begin to focus and specialize in the field. Our undergraduates are still primarily coming from the Acadiana region, but more and more, we're seeing students from north Louisiana, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and from out of state, and a greater percentage of our master's students are coming from across Louisiana and outside of the state.

You seem to have a strong commitment to UL.

Well I really like being here at UL, it's a great place to work. The faculty overall are excellent, the students are very committed to their studies. We have real stars on the faculty here and in the student body, and we get great support from Dr. Authément and the Administration.

I keep up with what's going on at other schools. When I first came to UL I made up my mind that I would stay here, unless I was contacted by one of the 4 or 5 schools that were the tops in my field: Colorado, North Carolina, Arizona, Texas-- and even Utah, if for no other reason than Salt Lake City is wonderful.

They've all called.

I decided to stay here at UL, because I feel that the University is a great place to pursue my research interests, and to teach and study at the doctoral level, for all of the reasons I just mentioned.