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April 28, 2004

URI dedicates speech, hearing center

From: Naragansett Times, RI - Apr 28, 2004

By:JESSICA HURST 04/28/2004

KINGSTON - Governor Donald Carcieri moved through the halls of the Walter J. Beaupre and Hearing Center last Friday, peeking into rooms and asking questions.

While open since January of last year, the university's new speech and hearing center was officially dedicated to the late Dr. Walter J. Beaupre, a beloved University of Rhode Island professor and a respected leader in the communicative disorders field.

Beaupre's wife Kathryn, flanked by her son and daughter-in-law, cut the blue ribbon across the center's doorway, where the silver- plated letters of her husband's name reads proudly on the wall. She looked up at those letters Friday, and saw a lifetime of work and dedication manifested in a center at the heart of the university's Department of Communicative Disorders, where Beaupre taught for more than 20 years.

"I think it's something special when you can see a facility like this... named for someone who has so much experience in the field," Carcieri told a conference room of about 70 university faculty, administration and supporters.

"His groundbreaking work helped make this important department not just one of the best in Rhode Island, but in New England."

For university President Robert Carothers, being close to the center is close to his heart.

With a profoundly deaf brother, and a young grand-daughter also born profoundly deaf, he said, "All of this has become rather personal to me in the past few years."

He also said that when his own hearing "started to slip away" in recent years, he visited the communicative disorders department for help.

"Now I'm hearing all kinds of things that I didn't hear before," he quipped.

Carothers described Beaupre as a gentle man, "who students just loved."

Beaupre began his career with URI in 1968, teaching courses in phonetics, voice disorders, alaryngeal speech and gestural communication. He became well known in the field for his work with "Cued Speech," a method of hand cues used to describe the sounds of American English. He published Gaining Cued Speech Proficiency in 1984, which remains a leading text in the field.

URI is currently the only college or university in the state to offer graduate degree programs in speech pathology and audiology, and the speech and hearing center itself services 600 people a year, according to clinical director Elizabeth Connors.

Department of Communicative Disorders Chair Jay Singer called Beaupre a "pioneer among speech pathologists and audiologists," who bolstered the department through his work, his journal articles and his pivotal grant acquisition.

"It is certainly our honor to have this clinic bear his name," he said. A scholarship established by Beaupre's family also bears his name. The first two Beaupre Scholars, junior Maura Curran and graduate student Allan Shaw, were also honored at the ceremony, and offered their thanks to Kathryn Beaupre.

Until last year, the speech and hearing center was housed in a residence hall on campus. Today, it sits in the University's Independence Square building, and still has a special feeling of brand-newness, with fresh carpet, bright decorative prints, spacious offices and state-of-the-art rehab and testing rooms.

Beaupre's family accompanied Carcieri and Judge Frank Caprio, chair of the Board of Governors for Higher Education, which approved the center's move last year, through the halls of the facility Friday.

Kathryn Beaupre was quiet, but glowing, looking around at a center that encompasses the work she and her husband held dear to their hearts for many years.

And outside the center, as a little boy passed by with his mother, someone told him, "See all this? This is for you."

©The Narragansett Times 2004