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A Towering Figure Remembered

By John Saxman

On a couple of occasions over recent years, I have had the opportunity to reflect and comment on Pat Sweeting’s considerable professional contributions. Those were happier times; though one was also a time of loss for us, her colleagues at Teachers College—her retirement in 2005.

Yesterday we marked the anniversary of 9-11 and were all reminded of the twin towers, Shamelessly borrowing from that event, I want to suggest that Pat was in many ways one of the towers of the program in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at Teachers College, Columbia University, Not to dwell on the metaphor, but I would like to mention some of the reasons that Pat was viewed as such an important contributor (a tower) to our program and to the profession. I don’t want to simply summarize her Curriculum Vita, the biographic fact sheet of academic folks, though some indication of her professional credentials is in order. Pat earned her Ph.D. degree from Columbia University in 1979 under the mentorship of Dr. Ronald Baken. I first heard the name Pat Sweeting through reading her and Ron’s publication of her doctoral research in Journal of Speech and Hearing Research in 1982. She taught at College of New Rochelle from 1977 to 1988, and joined the Faculty of Teachers College, Columbia University in 1988 as an Adjunct Assistant Professor, becoming an Associate Professor of Practice in 2000. She was the Director of the Edward D. Mysak Speech and Hearing Center from 1989 until her retirement from TC in 2005. She continued to provide clinical supervision at Mercy College for several years afterward.

Speech Language Pathology and Audiology at Teachers College has a long and distinguished history. We take great pride in our heritage, embodied in those who provided the foundation on which the current program stands. Pat contributes her legacy to the tradition. I want to briefly tell you about some of her contributions that give us all much to be proud of. To do this, I will barrow from portions of a letter I wrote in support of her nominations for the 2003 Distinguished Achievement Award from New York State Speech Language Hearing Association (NYSSLHA) --- which she justly received.

There is no measure for the profoundly positive influence Pat has had on the quality of the graduate program at TC and on the professional lives of hundreds of our graduates. Lest this sound too parochial, these hundreds of speech and language pathologists are working throughout New York State and the country and affecting the lives of countless individuals with communication disorders. Many have assumed leadership positions and all are dedicated to the continued education of future speech and language pathologists. The model that Dr. Patricia Sweeting provided these graduates is one of the highest professional competence and continued responsibility to the profession.

Pat Sweeting served in several positions, including clinic director, teacher, and clinical supervisor before assuming the leadership of the Edward D. Mysak Speech and Hearing Center. I know her best, however, in her role at Teachers College. Though her reputation and greatest contribution are in clinical teaching, Pat was trained in Ronald Baken’s laboratory in speech and voice science. She continued to be an important member of the doctoral program by serving on doctoral examination committees where her expertise was greatly appreciated be fledgling doctoral graduates, also witnessing her model of continued competence and responsible professional action

In addition to serving as Director of the Mysak Center, Pat was the practicum placement coordinator for all the Masters student field placements. A basic tenet of her clinical education philosophy was that enormous learning takes place in field experiences and that the experience must be appropriate to the students’ needs and competence. The brilliance of Pat Sweeting was that she was able to appreciate the individual needs and ability level of the student and arrange meaningful field experiences for as many as 50-60 students in a given semester. Pat not only understood the needs and the student, but also understood the unique situation of the field setting and unique strengths of the supervisor, many of whom she had prepared. It was the careful matching of student, site and supervisor that profited so many students over the years that Pat Sweeting managed the student placements for the program.

One cannot underestimate the importance of the clinical education component of graduate education in our field. Professor Sweeting championed and led efforts to improve the clinical education of students. Three notable achievements come to mind that changed the quality of education of our students and which makes them more valuable to the field. The first was her efforts to ensure that accountability methods were a part of every student experience and integrated into routine clinical practice. Second was embracing the New York City Public Schools as an important clinical training site. And third, was the recognition that the clinical populations we serve are often of multicultural and bilingual backgrounds. In the latter regard, she was instrumental in ensuring that our clinical staff reflected those realities. Her leadership has made it possible for our students to better serve the needs of individuals with disorders of communication. I believe that her contribution to clinical education of professionals deserves recognition as an outstanding achievement. This is the professional legacy that Pat Sweeting leaves to us.

On a personal note, I will miss your intelligence and plain good sense when we discussed problems or issues, whether related to the program or profession. I will miss your perspective on life that comes from your own rich life experiences and your ability to entertain the new and the different as real possibilities. I will miss your incredible ability to inspire the admiration and respect of students and professional colleagues. All these things I will miss.  Thank you, Pat.

John Saxman is Professor Emeritus of Speech & Language Pathology  

Published Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015

A Towering Figure Remembered

By John Saxman

On a couple of occasions over recent years, I have had the opportunity to reflect and comment on Pat Sweeting’s considerable professional contributions. Those were happier times; though one was also a time of loss for us, her colleagues at Teachers College—her retirement in 2005.

Yesterday we marked the anniversary of 9-11 and were all reminded of the twin towers, Shamelessly borrowing from that event, I want to suggest that Pat was in many ways one of the towers of the program in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at Teachers College, Columbia University, Not to dwell on the metaphor, but I would like to mention some of the reasons that Pat was viewed as such an important contributor (a tower) to our program and to the profession. I don’t want to simply summarize her Curriculum Vita, the biographic fact sheet of academic folks, though some indication of her professional credentials is in order. Pat earned her Ph.D. degree from Columbia University in 1979 under the mentorship of Dr. Ronald Baken. I first heard the name Pat Sweeting through reading her and Ron’s publication of her doctoral research in Journal of Speech and Hearing Research in 1982. She taught at College of New Rochelle from 1977 to 1988, and joined the Faculty of Teachers College, Columbia University in 1988 as an Adjunct Assistant Professor, becoming an Associate Professor of Practice in 2000. She was the Director of the Edward D. Mysak Speech and Hearing Center from 1989 until her retirement from TC in 2005. She continued to provide clinical supervision at Mercy College for several years afterward.

Speech Language Pathology and Audiology at Teachers College has a long and distinguished history. We take great pride in our heritage, embodied in those who provided the foundation on which the current program stands. Pat contributes her legacy to the tradition. I want to briefly tell you about some of her contributions that give us all much to be proud of. To do this, I will barrow from portions of a letter I wrote in support of her nominations for the 2003 Distinguished Achievement Award from New York State Speech Language Hearing Association (NYSSLHA) --- which she justly received.

There is no measure for the profoundly positive influence Pat has had on the quality of the graduate program at TC and on the professional lives of hundreds of our graduates. Lest this sound too parochial, these hundreds of speech and language pathologists are working throughout New York State and the country and affecting the lives of countless individuals with communication disorders. Many have assumed leadership positions and all are dedicated to the continued education of future speech and language pathologists. The model that Dr. Patricia Sweeting provided these graduates is one of the highest professional competence and continued responsibility to the profession.

Pat Sweeting served in several positions, including clinic director, teacher, and clinical supervisor before assuming the leadership of the Edward D. Mysak Speech and Hearing Center. I know her best, however, in her role at Teachers College. Though her reputation and greatest contribution are in clinical teaching, Pat was trained in Ronald Baken’s laboratory in speech and voice science. She continued to be an important member of the doctoral program by serving on doctoral examination committees where her expertise was greatly appreciated be fledgling doctoral graduates, also witnessing her model of continued competence and responsible professional action

In addition to serving as Director of the Mysak Center, Pat was the practicum placement coordinator for all the Masters student field placements. A basic tenet of her clinical education philosophy was that enormous learning takes place in field experiences and that the experience must be appropriate to the students’ needs and competence. The brilliance of Pat Sweeting was that she was able to appreciate the individual needs and ability level of the student and arrange meaningful field experiences for as many as 50-60 students in a given semester. Pat not only understood the needs and the student, but also understood the unique situation of the field setting and unique strengths of the supervisor, many of whom she had prepared. It was the careful matching of student, site and supervisor that profited so many students over the years that Pat Sweeting managed the student placements for the program.

One cannot underestimate the importance of the clinical education component of graduate education in our field. Professor Sweeting championed and led efforts to improve the clinical education of students. Three notable achievements come to mind that changed the quality of education of our students and which makes them more valuable to the field. The first was her efforts to ensure that accountability methods were a part of every student experience and integrated into routine clinical practice. Second was embracing the New York City Public Schools as an important clinical training site. And third, was the recognition that the clinical populations we serve are often of multicultural and bilingual backgrounds. In the latter regard, she was instrumental in ensuring that our clinical staff reflected those realities. Her leadership has made it possible for our students to better serve the needs of individuals with disorders of communication. I believe that her contribution to clinical education of professionals deserves recognition as an outstanding achievement. This is the professional legacy that Pat Sweeting leaves to us.

On a personal note, I will miss your intelligence and plain good sense when we discussed problems or issues, whether related to the program or profession. I will miss your perspective on life that comes from your own rich life experiences and your ability to entertain the new and the different as real possibilities. I will miss your incredible ability to inspire the admiration and respect of students and professional colleagues. All these things I will miss.  Thank you, Pat.

John Saxman is Professor Emeritus of Speech & Language Pathology  

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