Ronald Tikofsky, TC Expert in Language Disorders, Dies at 85 | Teachers College Columbia University

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Ronald Tikofsky, TC Expert in Language Disorders, Dies at 85

Ronald S. Tikofsky, a longtime Adjunct Professor of Speech Pathology at Teachers College, passed away earlier this summer. Tikofsky was an expert in aphasia and acquired language disorders who received the Gold Medal of the American College of Nuclear Medicine for his pioneering brain imaging studies of speech and language. He was also an accomplished jazz clarinetist and jazz enthusiast.

“Ron Tikofsky was beloved by students in the master’s program and was a wonderful colleague to us all,” said Karen Froud, Associate Professor of Speech & Language Pathology.

“Dr. T, as he was affectionately known around the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences, was a very special person,” said John Saxman.  “He was a gentleman, a first rate scholar, a passionate jazz musician, and a teacher.  It was an honor to have Ron as an Adjunct Professor in the Department and a pleasure for us all to keep his company.  We will miss his generous spirit.”

Tikofsky was a New York City native who earned his undergraduate degree at Brooklyn College and his Ph.D. in Speech Pathology and Psychology at the University of Utah. He taught at universities around the country, including the University of Michigan, where he set up one of the first aphasia rehabilitation programs in a university clinic. The program included cooperative arrangements with the Departments of Neurology and Physical Medicine and offered physical and occupational therapy as well as speech therapy. Yet in an article in one of the university’s publications, Tikofskys said that perhaps the program’s most effective feature was a daily coffee hour at which patients acted as hosts and conversed informally on different topics with their therapists – a somewhat radical approach at a time when the field took a very limited view of what patients could achieve.

“There’s no competition in this situation,” he said. “All we ask is that they participate and carry on conversationally with us and with each other as best they can.”

Tikofsky was Associate Professor of Clinical Radiology at College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and served terms as both President of the American College of Nuclear Medicine and President of the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s Brain Imaging Council. He co-edited the book Functional Cerebral SPECT and PET Imaging, which detailed recent progress in the field of functional brain imaging, and authored hundreds of papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Tikofsky served on the Honorary Founders Board of the Jazz Foundation of America. While teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he was President of the Milwaukee Jazz Experience and President of the Friends of WYMS, Milwaukee's Jazz radio station. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Pabst Theater Jazz Concert series. 

 

Published Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015

Ronald Tikofsky, TC Expert in Language Disorders, Dies at 85

Ronald S. Tikofsky, a longtime Adjunct Professor of Speech Pathology at Teachers College, passed away earlier this summer. Tikofsky was an expert in aphasia and acquired language disorders who received the Gold Medal of the American College of Nuclear Medicine for his pioneering brain imaging studies of speech and language. He was also an accomplished jazz clarinetist and jazz enthusiast.

“Ron Tikofsky was beloved by students in the master’s program and was a wonderful colleague to us all,” said Karen Froud, Associate Professor of Speech & Language Pathology.

“Dr. T, as he was affectionately known around the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences, was a very special person,” said John Saxman.  “He was a gentleman, a first rate scholar, a passionate jazz musician, and a teacher.  It was an honor to have Ron as an Adjunct Professor in the Department and a pleasure for us all to keep his company.  We will miss his generous spirit.”

Tikofsky was a New York City native who earned his undergraduate degree at Brooklyn College and his Ph.D. in Speech Pathology and Psychology at the University of Utah. He taught at universities around the country, including the University of Michigan, where he set up one of the first aphasia rehabilitation programs in a university clinic. The program included cooperative arrangements with the Departments of Neurology and Physical Medicine and offered physical and occupational therapy as well as speech therapy. Yet in an article in one of the university’s publications, Tikofskys said that perhaps the program’s most effective feature was a daily coffee hour at which patients acted as hosts and conversed informally on different topics with their therapists – a somewhat radical approach at a time when the field took a very limited view of what patients could achieve.

“There’s no competition in this situation,” he said. “All we ask is that they participate and carry on conversationally with us and with each other as best they can.”

Tikofsky was Associate Professor of Clinical Radiology at College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and served terms as both President of the American College of Nuclear Medicine and President of the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s Brain Imaging Council. He co-edited the book Functional Cerebral SPECT and PET Imaging, which detailed recent progress in the field of functional brain imaging, and authored hundreds of papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Tikofsky served on the Honorary Founders Board of the Jazz Foundation of America. While teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he was President of the Milwaukee Jazz Experience and President of the Friends of WYMS, Milwaukee's Jazz radio station. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Pabst Theater Jazz Concert series. 

 

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  • Ellen (TC '74) and I (GSAS/TC '78) fondly remember our dinners with Rita and Ron, last in July 2014.  I had the privilege of becoming friends with Ron in 2003 while working on a study in Harlem Hospital combining nuclear medicine (SPECT) and psychiatry.  I was immediately very impressed with Ronâ?Ts determined support of both research in Harlem Hospital and the Radiology residency training program.  During this period Ron took up the alto sax.  (Vincent Herring Jr. helped select his horn.)  He developed an original solo style flavored with rabbit and bird (Johnny Hodges and Charlie Parker), and distributed with pride a video of his solo with a rehearsal band.  He is much missed by all who knew him. - Ernest Joel Millman

  • Ron had a huge effect on me personally and professionally. Personally, he opened his house to me while I was working on my dissertation. I stayed with his family in Florida for several days. The impact of his generosity never left me. Professionally, he guided me and challenged me to think at very high levels. Ron has a very special place in my heart. His energy and enthusiasm for all aspects of life were contagious. - Lynn Bliss