In Memoriam: Lois Nelson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Lois Nelson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Lois Nelson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Dr. Lois Audrey Nelson was raised on a 160 acre farm near Stoughton, Wisconsin. She completed an undergraduate degree in Speech at the University of Wisconsin (1954), a Masters degree in Speech Correction with Dr. Charles VanRiper at Western Michigan University (1956), and a Ph.D. degree from UW-Madison (1960). She joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in that year as the first female professor in what eventually became the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Dr. Nelson’s expertise as a diagnostician and as a scholar of fluency disorders benefited both her students and the hundreds of children and adults she treated during her nearly forty-year career. At the core of her teaching and clinical work were the ideas that application models mastery, that complex skills and clinical insight can be won only through compassionate understanding of the lives of those we seek to help, and that effective therapy is a process of growth for both the clinician-teacher and the patient-client. These principles earned Professor Nelson a well-deserved reputation as a mentor of master clinicians, resulting in the Honors of the Wisconsin Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1985) and that Association’s Presidential Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Profession (1996).

Other scholarly contributions included publication of her work by the Stuttering Foundation of America and development of Clinical Specialty Recognition in Fluency Disorders for a joint effort of the International Fluency Association and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Dr. Nelson was a frequent contributor to continuing education programs, both locally and nationally, and for many years organized and managed the Department’s general education survey course.

Professor Nelson served for more than three decades as the Departmental academic advisor of hundreds of undergraduate students pursuing degree programs and clinical certification in speech-language pathology, a quantity and quality of service that cannot be over-emphasized. As the Department added new faculty and admitted new graduate students, Dr. Nelson offered supportive friendship to them, as well. Her gentle good will and extraordinary support of the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic training program was recognized and much appreciated by her colleagues.

Compiled by Michael R. Chial