New Doehring Memorial Lecture a “fall treat” for SCSD students
By Anne Chudobiak
If you were a PhD candidate at the McGill School of Communication Sciences & Disorders (SCSD) in its early days, when it was still known as the School of Human Communication Disorders, then chances are that you had Donald Doehring, the School’s founding director, as a supervisor.
“He pretty well supervised every PhD student,” said Shari Baum, Associate Dean, Research, Faculty of Medicine, and former Director of the School, at the Meakins Theatre before the inaugural Donald G. Doehring Memorial Lecture earlier this fall, on SCSD Research Day.
“He was definitely a force. A very kind, supportive person,” Baum continued. “For a long time, we had the only PhD program in the field in Canada and that was due to him.”
When the School was launched, in 1963, there were very few universities in North America providing graduate training in speech language pathology and audiology. “Doehring adopted the clinician-scientist method well before it was the mainstream and brought it to the School,” said Professor Linda Polka, who added that Doehring’s doctoral students went on to fill faculty posts at universities across Canada and the United States. “Don was an exceptional mentor.”
Doehring’s son, Peter, and daughter, Laura, were also present. “He worked in many different places across the U.S. early in his career. “When he came here to establish this program, this became his home, for our family, and from an academic perspective as well,” said Peter, a psychologist like his father, who had made the trip for the occasion from Philadelphia.
Doehring served as Director of the School from 1963 to 1968, as well as from 1986 to 1987, and retired as Emeritus Professor in 1992. He passed away in October 2015.
The speaker for the inaugural lecture was Dr. Rachel M. Theodore, an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut. Her talk, “Perceptual learning in language processing,” was followed by pumpkin pie, as well as a research “blitz,” i.e., an opportunity for students and post-docs to summarize their work.
Annie Gilbert, a post-doc at the School, said that she attended the event “because the topic is very interesting for me. I am working on speech perception.” She enjoys the opportunity to touch base, to see what others are doing. In the future, the Memorial Lecture will likely be held separately from SCSD Research Day, giving the community yet another reason to gather.