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Arnold School of Public Health

Apel recognized with Honors of the Council award from the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders

April 17, 2015 | Erin Bluvas, 

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorder's (COMD) Professor and Chair Kenn Apel received the Honors of the Council award at the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders annual conference banquet in Newport Beach, California on April 16. The Council, a national organization which is dedicated to promoting academic excellence, leadership and collaboration among academic programs in communication sciences and disorders, recognizes one individual periodically with the Honors of the Council award -- the highest honor bestowed by the Council.

Apel earned this award by making such significant contributions to the Council and graduate education that his impact has been widely recognized throughout the professional community. Over the past ten years, he has served in numerous capacities for the Council, including treasurer, chair for the annual conference program committee, vice president for professional development and Council representative on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's Academic Affairs Board. Apel also led the Council as president-elect, president and past-president during a critical period of growth while they transitioned from an organizational structure guided by a single executive director to a multifaceted one guided by a management firm that provides a wider array of services. He continues to contribute to the Council by serving as chair of the interprofessional education committee and representing the organization's interests on a global forum centered around this topic.

Melody Harrison, a professor at the University of North Carolina, nominated Apel for the award "because I would very much like for him to know how much we appreciate not only the hours and hours he spent helping to assure a smooth and successful transition but also for maintaining a wonderful sense of humor throughout it all."

His dedication to the field of communication sciences and disorders is evident through his work at the Arnold School as well. With research interests in language and literacy development and disorders, Apel joined the School in 2012 as professor and chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. He is a nationally known authority in his profession of over 150,000 practitioners and scientists with numerous publications in top literacy journals and a highly respected and popular book, Beyond Baby Talk: From Speaking to Spelling, on parenting and language development that is now in its second edition. Apel's expertise in literacy and dyslexia has transformed the COMD department into a literacy powerhouse, resulting in several grants and four outstanding faculty members who specialize in these areas.

As chair, he has led the COMD department to revise and implement their five-year plan as well as become immersed in the nation-wide movement among health professions to expose and cross-train students in other helping professions (i.e., medicine, education, social work, etc.). Under Apel's guidance, the department has also created a new facility for the USC Speech and Hearing Research Center, which has enabled the Center to expand its services to a broader population of children and adults with a wider range of communication disorders and disabilities.

His Arnold School colleagues are grateful for the leadership Apel has brought to USC. "He is a humane and sensitive listener, always seeking a consensus on issues," says Allen Montgomery, a research professor in the department. "At the same time, he is a decisive leader, making the necessary decisions and pushing us to consider and act on all sorts of issues."

Apel credits the Council for helping him develop skills for the various leadership roles he has held throughout his career. "This particular organization is devoted to supporting communication sciences and disorders programs"especially chairs and clinic directors," Apel says. One way the Council does this is by bringing together chairs and clinic directors from across the country and the world to learn and exchange ideas about real-life issues at the organization's annual conference. "The first time I became a chair, this type of experience was invaluable," he says. "It still is."

Apel became involved in the Council to help others experience the same benefits that he garnered from his interactions with the organization. And his efforts have not gone unnoticed. "It's not just how much he has done, or how graciously he has accepted every request to serve time and time again," Harrison says. "It is also the level of attention that he delivers to everything he does."


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