Moving on up

Communication Sciences and Disorders gets lead gift to consolidate space

Allen Montgomery could do a fair impersonation of the Energizer bunny — he just keeps going and going. The 80-year-old audiology professor in the Arnold School of Public Health has run more than 100 marathons, the last one just a couple of years ago, and he has no immediate plans for retirement. 

He’s even figured out a creative way to help his academic department consolidate in one space on campus — something that’s never happened since communication sciences and disorders was created as an academic unit in 1972.

And that’s a big deal. The department, which offers two master’s degree programs, prepares about 65 graduates per year in speech-language pathology. A growing doctoral program includes 10 students — clinical scientists who are prepared to advance the field through teaching, research and service. In 2018, the unit’s 27 full-time faculty members had $21 million in competitive research funding to study speech production/perception, hearing, language organization in the brain, language and literacy development and disorders and fragile X syndrome. 

Soon, all of that work will be able to happen under one roof. The department plans to move next spring to the Close-Hipp Building, former home of the Darla Moore School of Business. Renovations will ultimately be funded by the sale of a coastal farm that Allen and Marcia Montgomery have had in their family for nearly 90 years.

“One motivation for us to give this gift is that Marcia and I are both speech pathologists,” Montgomery says. “We’ve both have had wonderful experiences in the Speech and Hearing Center — she worked with deaf teenagers, and I worked with many stutterers during my career as a therapist. To support a center of this quality that we’ve been a part of for so long really appealed to us.”

Montgomery’s parents bought the 70-acre property along the Beaufort River in 1932 and retired there in the 1950s. Much of the property is covered in loblolly pine, which Montgomery helped his father plant years ago. To preserve the land’s natural beauty, Montgomery has crafted conservation easements that restrict how much building can take place once it is sold..

Moving to Close-Hipp will allow the department to consolidate faculty offices, labs and the Speech and Hearing Research Center in one place and eliminate lease payments for an off-campus downtown building. Once the move is completed, the clinic will be renamed the Montgomery Speech and Hearing Research Center in honor of the couple’s lead gift, which will cover the cost of renovations on the building’s second floor.

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