speech clinician demonstrating throat technique to 5-year-old girl

Speech & Hearing Science

Promote effective communication, a human right, through research and clinical practice. Prepare for a career that improves lives.

SHS at 50: 50 Years of Empowering Lives Through Enhanced Communication

Established in 1973 within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Department of Speech and Hearing Science went through several name changes before finally becoming part of the College of Applied Health Sciences in 1991.

The University of Illinois Speech Clinic began as an outreach program in a janitor’s mop closet in Lincoln Hall in 1938. Dr. Severina Nelson could find no other space to conduct her speech therapy. Two years later, with the title of director of the speech clinic and a $2,000 grant, Dr. Nelson moved the clinic to a spacious new office in Gregory Hall. In 2007, the Speech-Language Pathology Clinic moved to a new, expanded, state-of-the-art facility located in Research Park. The Audiology Clinic co-located with the Speech-Language Pathology Clinic in 2018.

In 2023, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of SHS being established at the University of Illinois with a series of articles on the people and the research that helped build SHS into what it is today.

Humble beginnings

Severina Nelson

As humble beginnings go, it would be difficult to top that of the Department of Speech and Hearing Science at the University of Illinois. In the first of a series of articles about SHS and its history, you can read more about Dr. Severina Nelson here.

Anatomy of a Pioneer

Willard R. Zemlin

Through his interest in anatomy and physiology, Willard R. Zemlin affected how speech and hearing science would be taught for decades. Read about Zemlin's contributions to the Department of Speech and Hearing Science.

SHS Clinic gives students, faculty the opportunity to provide clinical services for the community

SHS 50th Clinic

Nestled in the University of Illinois’ Research Park is a place where the Department of Speech and Hearing Science improves communication and quality of life using evidence-based practices on a daily basis. This mission goes back to the founding of the department.

Fairbanks, Paden brought rigor to ASHA journals and credibility to SHS

Elaine Paden

The Department of Speech and Hearing Science is proud to claim a seminal role in the establishment of the journals in the field, through the hard work and dedication of its pioneering faculty, Professors Grant Fairbanks and Elaine Paden. Read the story here.

O'Neill's legacy is service to profession of speech and hearing science

John O'Neill


The Department of Speech and Hearing Science’s history of cultivating a spirit of leadership through mentoring and service to the profession owes much to John J. O’Neill. Read more about O'Neill's legacy as an involved, influential and supportive leader of SHS.

Q&A with Pamela Hadley, department head

Pam Hadley Q&A

What better way to wrap up our year-long celebration of the Department of Speech and Hearing Science’s 50 years at the University of Illinois than to gather its current leader’s thoughts on the past—and the discipline’s very bright future?