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Arnold School of Public Health

COMD’s Crystal Murphree-Holden receives 2017 Kleffner Clinical Career Award from S.C. Speech-Language-Hearing Association

February 9, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, 

Crystal Murphree-Holden, a clinical instructor and the director of distance education in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD), has been named the recipient of the 2017 Frank R. Kleffner Clinical Award from the South Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SCSHA). The award recognizes one individual each year for outstanding contributions to clinical science and practice in communication science disorders over the course of a career.

Murphree-Holden began her commitment to the field after earning a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Tennessee in 1980. In the 36+ years since then, she has dedicated her professional and personal time and energy to advancing the field.

During the first 25 years of her career, Murphree-Holden amassed considerable experience as a speech-language pathologist working with children in public schools and with private pediatric and adult populations. Treating individuals with a variety of communication and related disorders in a range of settings helped prepare Murphree-Holden for serving as a clinical instructor within the COMD department part-time for ten years (1994-2004) before joining the department full-time in 2004.

As a clinical instructor in the department’s USC Speech and Hearing Research Center (and previously as an external clinical supervisor), Murphree-Holden educates and mentors the department’s master’s students. The preparation of these students is critical as they will become speech-language pathologists–some of whom will become researchers who advance the science of the communication sciences and disorders field.

“Crystal’s service as a clinical supervisor for our graduate students simultaneously contributes to the clinical practice and science of our field,” says Center Director Danielle Varnedoe. “As a supervisor, she is teaching and guiding students on principles and practices of how to conduct speech and language assessment and intervention. Even more so, because of her deep understanding and commitment to evidence-based practice and the importance of helping graduate students understand the link between the research and practice of our discipline, she is helping shape students to become clinical scientists, individuals who are true problem-solvers and critical thinkers.”

Murphree-Holden’s role as director of distance education is also critical to the department’s success. COMD offers two master’s degree programs that prepare students for careers in speech-language pathology, and one of them is offered primarily though distance learning. Known as the Master of Communication Disorders in Speech-Language Pathology (MCD), this part-time option involves comprehensive coursework and significant time blocks of clinical experiences. Like its full-time, on-campus counterpart (Master of Speech Pathology (MSP)), the MCD degree program is challenging and requires a high level of commitment from students to be successful—thanks in part to Murphree-Holden’s efforts and leadership. As director, she incorporates in-person components and technology-supported live interactions as well as other creative strategies to ensure that MCD students are extremely well prepared for their careers.

When Murphree-Holden herself is off campus, she can often be found engaging in professional service. She has been the SCSHA Continuing Education Chair for more than 20 years—an important role in a field that requires frequent, evidence-based continuing education. She has participated in numerous other national and state committees, led regional conferences, and served on state-level committees/task forces, such as the E-Learning Group, Eligibility Criteria Task Force for Speech-Language Pathology, and the Speech-Language Pathology Certification Committee.

“Crystal’s contributions in clinical service, supervision and administration of clinical services, as well as the promotion of excellence in clinical service demonstrate her commitment to the S.C. Speech-Language Hearing Association, to her profession, and, most importantly, to the individuals to whom she serves: the children and families with communication disorders,” says COMD Chair Kenn Apel. “I cannot think of a more deserving individual who should be recognized for her outstanding contributions to clinical science and practice in communication science and disorders by receiving the Frank R. Kleffner Clinical Career Award.


COMD Clinical Associate Professor Angela McLeod receives clinical achievement award from SCSHA

USC Speech and Hearing Research Center Director Danielle Varnedoe receives Honors of the Association from SCSHA

Dianne Dixon receives Kleffner Clinical Career Award for outstanding contributions to clinical science and practice


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