Department of Communication
Sciences and Disorders
West Chester University
Dr. Cheryl D. Gunter, Chair
201 Carter Drive, Suite 400
West Chester, PA 19383
One of the first speech clinics in the United States was established at West Chester Normal School in 1923 by Elizabeth Tyson, a faculty member in the English department. By 1927, the English department of West Chester State Teachers' College had added a course in speech problems, and by 1932 this course was a requirement for the four-year kindergarten-primary teaching curriculum. The course continued as a requirement in the elementary education curriculum and the speech clinic, "organized to care for cases of defective speech within the College and the vicinity," was operated in conjunction with the course.
As part of the College's development of liberal arts programs during the 1960s, the Department of Speech and Theatre was organized in the School of Arts and Letters in 1967. Speech Pathology and Audiology, initially called Speech Science, was one of three areas within that department. In April 1968, the Pennsylvania Department of Education granted approval for the Department of Speech and Theatre to initiate curriculum leading to the degree, Bachelor of Science in Education--Teaching the Speech and Hearing Handicapped (K-12), and in September 1968, six students were admitted to the program. The first B.S.Ed. degree in Speech Correction was awarded in January 1971, and that fall the first graduate elective courses in speech pathology were offered.
Also in 1971, the department began to develop a proposal for a master's degree. The department's proposal was approved by the college administration in July 1973, and the Pennsylvania State Secretary of Education granted provisional program approval status for a Master of Arts degree in Speech Pathology on August 11, 1975. The first four masters' degrees were awarded in May 1976.
In March of 1972, the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology was organized as a separate department within the School of Arts and Letters. The department, along with the Speech and Hearing Clinic, moved into a facility on the second floor of Wayne Hall on July 1, 1972. When West Chester State College was reorganized in 1979, the department changed to its present name, Communicative Disorders, and, in conjunction with the departments of Health, Nursing, and Physical Education, formed the new School of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Professional Studies.
In 1981, in response to the needs of some students for greater flexibility in the undergraduate curriculum, in appreciation of current trends in the field of communicative disorders, and in anticipation of changes in teacher certification requirements, the department developed a proposal for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communicative Disorders. The proposal was approved and implemented in 1982, one year before the college as a whole attained University status.
The Department of Communicative Disorders applied for accreditation by the Educational Service Board (ESB) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in October 1992. Following that milestone, in 1993, the department moved to its current location at 201 Carter Drive, a facility specifically designed to house the Department, the Speech and Hearing Clinic, the Speech Science Laboratory and faculty offices. An accreditation site visit was held in October 1993 and the department was pleased to receive accreditation in 1994. Subsequently, the ESB has been replaced by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). The department currently maintains its accreditation by the CAA.