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Arnold School of Public Health

COMD Chair Jean Neils-Strunjas elected Fellow of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

August 5, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

Jean Neils-Strunjas, who recently joined the Arnold School’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD) as professor and chair, has been has been awarded the Fellowship of the Association by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). To be elected as a Fellow, the nominee must demonstrate outstanding contributions to the COMD discipline.

The ASHA Fellow is one of the Association’s highest honors, with only a small percentage of ASHA’s more than 210,000 members receiving this recognition. Neils-Strunjas was nominated by ASHA members/Fellows for her contributions in the areas of research and publications, administrative services and service to the Association.

“This recognition for Dr. Neils-Strunjas confirms she has been continuously providing outstanding contributions to ASHA, the field, and to individuals with communication disorders,” says Professor Emeritus/former COMD chair and ASHA Fellow Kenn Apel. “This award provides additional confirmation that COMD has chosen a superb chair.” 

Neils-Strunjas has published widely in peer-reviewed journals, and her research has been funded by federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the United States Medicare Center for Medicare Services. Her interprofessional approach to studying aging has resulted in a broader dissemination of her work to include multiple fields and perspectives (e.g., speech-language pathology, physical therapy, linguistics, psychology, social work). She also contributes to the development of future researchers by serving as a mentor to junior faculty and students at all levels.

In the area of administrative service, Neils-Strunjas has made a range of contributions as well. She has held the roles of program coordinator/director, department head/chair and interim associate dean. During her three-decade career, she has engaged in all aspects of academia and served as a role model for those she leads.

During her many years as a member of ASHA, Neils-Strunjas has engaged in service activities in a number of areas. In support of her passion for interprofessional practice and education, she served as member and chair of the Joint Committee on Interprofessional Relations between ASHA and the American Psychological Association. She is on her second four-year term as a site visitor for ASHA’s Council on Academic Accreditation and frequently leads as chair and mentor to new site visitors. At a local level, she has participated in an ASHA Advocacy training grant to travel with students to her former state capitol in Kentucky to receive training and meet with legislators about issues of importance to ASHA and the COMD field.  

“Dr. Neils-Strunjas’ contributions span 36 years of continuous employment and/or doctoral training from the time she was certified in 1980 to the present,” says Melanie Schuele, a professor of hearing and speech sciences at Vanderbilt University, who nominated Neils-Strunjas for Fellowship along with Maryanne Weatherill (Atlanta VA Medical Center) and Melanie Hudson (National Director EBS Healthcare). “Her outstanding contributions are evidence of her commitment to advancing the evidence base that drives practices to persons with neurogenic communication disorders, her commitment to be leader in the field and in higher education, and her commitment to service to the profession.”

Inspired by her parents, an educator and a dentist, Neils-Strunjas studied speech pathology and audiology as an undergraduate student at Pennsylvania State University. She then completed master’s and doctoral degrees in speech-language pathology at Case Western Reserve University before launching her professional career conducting research, teaching, engaging in service activities and leading others at the various institutions. The cumulative effects of this career have resulted in honors such as the ASHA Fellowship recognition.

“Dr. Neils-Strunjas’ work as a site visitor for the program accreditation process is one of the rare and important sets of skills and experience that she brings to her role leading the department,” says Al Montgomery, a long-time faculty member and an ASHA Fellow. “Academic departments that train speech-language pathologists go through a rigorous national accreditation evaluation every seven years and spend months preparing for the site visit. Dr. Neils-Strunjas not only has all the inside knowledge a site visitor has; she now serves as chair of site visits and mentor to new site visitors. Our department is fortunate to have such a broadly based administrator to lead us in these difficult times.”  


Jean Neils-Strunjas brings interprofessional focus to new role as COMD chair

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