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Speech and Hearing Science Departmental Strategic Plan 2024-2027

Speech and Hearing Science Strategic Plan 2024-2027

The mission of The Ohio State University Department of Speech and Hearing Science is to serve and advocate for persons across the spectrum of communication needs by discovering new knowledge about speech, language, and hearing, educating diverse groups of leaders in communication sciences, speech-language pathology, and audiology, and expanding accessibility to communication services for people of all backgrounds. 

We are part of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) in the College of Arts and Sciences (ASC).  ASC is one of fifteen colleges that comprise The Ohio State University, a public land grant institution that serves communities throughout the state.  Fulfilling the mission of our department includes meeting the changing needs of our students, the national and international research communities, our clinical patients and clients, the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology, our faculty and staff, and people across the state, country, and world with communication needs.  To meet the needs of the various populations, our department needs to be agile and innovative.  We need to build on our strong foundation, while creating and maintaining forward momentum to continue to evolve and be the best version of the department that we can be.

There is an urgent need for the services we provide, both directly and indirectly, to people with communication needs and their families, and our department has endeavored to rise to meet those needs throughout our history that spans over 90 years.  As we look forward to the next era of the department, we align our strategic plan with that of the ASC, which itself is aligned with the academic plan of the university.

The 2024-2027 strategic plan for the department was drafted after examination of the current state of the department, as discussed in our department meeting on May 24, 2023.  In that meeting, we identified many of the strengths and significant accomplishments of the department over the previous academic year and then compared the current status of the department to other peer and aspirational peer institutions.  By engaging in this exercise, and through discussions with faculty over the previous academic year, areas for strategic growth emerged.  Many of these areas aligned naturally with the Shared Values of the university and then academic and strategic plans of the university and college.  What follows is a strategic plan that hopefully demonstrates how growth and enhancement of Speech and Hearing Science can contribute to a stronger College of ASC and a stronger Ohio State University.

In addition to the goals of the plan, we list more specific objectives and measures of progress that will be used to evaluate the success of the department in achieving its objectives.  While none of the goals has a clearly defined endpoint at which success can be declared, progress toward each objective can be measured and should be expected when evaluating the performance of the department chair and other leaders in the department.


1)  Strengthen departmental faculty research portfolios.

Rationale: Research is a pillar of the mission of the department, and the enhancement of faculty eminence is the first pillar of the university’s academic plan and the ASC strategic plan.  Strong research programs across the department advance knowledge in the fields we serve, enhance the reputation and rankings of the department nationally, improve our ability to recruit and train top students, and strengthen our budgetary flexibility.  Strengthening the research productivity of the faculty will positively impact nearly every facet of what the department does.

Objective 1-1: Increase external research support funding by 100%.

In fiscal year 2023 (July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023), the department expended approximately $450,000 in external research funds. By fiscal year 2027, the objective is to reach $900,000 in expenditures.  This objective will increase research activity (Objective 1-2 below) and bring increased indirect costs and release time funds to the department to enhance budget flexibility (Goal 5 below).

Progress metric: Increased extramural funding research expenditures year-to-year.

Objective 1-2: Increase the faculty’s annual peer-reviewed article output.

The goal of research activity is the acquisition and dissemination of new knowledge.  Over the last five years, the department’s productivity has yielded roughly 30 peer-reviewed articles per year.  With our current number of tenure-track and research faculty, 40 per year would reflect strong productivity across the department.  Importantly, continuing to publish in top-tier journals will remain a priority for the department.

Progress metric: Increases in the total number of peer-reviewed journal articles published each calendar year by department faculty.

Objective 1-3: Create and implement a proactive teaching load reduction for tenure-track faculty actively seeking extramural research funding.

Using release time and indirect costs funds from funded grants, tenure-track faculty on a four-course teaching load would have their teaching loads reduced to three in the years in which they are actively seeking and making progress toward multi-year extramural funding that will enable them to grow their research programs and contribute to the release time funds, graduate associate funding, and/or indirect costs funds of the department.

Progress metric: Creation and implementation of the course reduction initiative. Increases in extramural funding proposals, progress in improving the scores on those submissions.

Objective 1-4: Create internal seed grant funding and cost sharing opportunities to promote new directions for faculty research.

Using indirect costs and other sources of discretionary income from departmental sources, a pool of funds would be established to fund new research ventures, provide bridge funding, or guarantee cost sharing possibilities as faculty seek new sources of external funding. 

Progress metric: The creation of a funding pool, the number of supported projects, and the extramural funding dollars generated from those supported projects.

2)  Innovate in teaching to provide a cutting-edge curriculum that is ready to meet the emerging needs of students, faculty, and the professions we serve.

Rationale: Like research, teaching and learning are a fundamental pillar of the mission of the department.  Accelerating student success is the second pillar of the university’s academic plan and the ASC strategic plan. The students’ needs have changed considerably over time, and it is incumbent upon the faculty and staff of the department to ensure that our teaching is meeting their needs in the most modern way possible.  This requires attention to our curricula and assessment pathways that allow us identify places to innovate.

Objective 2-1: Review and revise program goals, course goals, and expected learning outcomes (ELOs) to bring all four academic program curricula into proper alignment.

The department regularly operates four degree-granting academic programs: the undergraduate bachelor of arts (BA), the master of arts in speech-language pathology (MA-SLP), the doctor of audiology (AuD), and the doctor of philosophy (PhD).  Revising and modernizing the program goals will provide the various stakeholders in the programs with input into the shape of the programs and confidence that the department is offering programming that meets a changing landscape in higher education and our professions.  Aligning the course goals and ELOs with revised program goals will require faculty to be intentional about what they are teaching, and it will allow students to see how every unit in their courses brings them closer to reaching the goals of the program.

Progress metric: The review and revision/re-affirmation of program goals in each of the four programs and top-down review and revision/re-affirmation of course goals and ELOs for each course serving a program.

Objective 2-2: Review and revise the programmatic assessment plans for the four academic programs.

The current assessment programs for the four academic programs are due for review and revision or re-affirmation.  It is crucial that the faculty can say with confidence that we are offering the best versions of the programs and that students are learning the core concepts that the programs are built to deliver.  A revised and effective assessment plan will also provide meaningful data about instructors’ efficacy as teachers that can be used to support merit pay, re-appointment, and promotion decisions.

Progress metric: The review and revision/re-affirmation of the assessment plans for each of the four programs.

Objective 2-3: Enhance programmatic offerings in each of the four academic programs.

Each program has enhancements that can be made to address existing gaps in programmatic offerings:

  • BA: increase service-learning and hands-on clinical experiences for students.
  • MA-SLP: increase elective offerings in medical speech-language pathology and introduce bilingual speech-language pathology content within the MA-SLP program.
  • AuD: increase vestibular content in the program.
  • PhD: revise and re-align the Proseminar course sequence.

Each of these changes would create more modernized course offerings and provide more breadth of education for our students, while leveraging existing and emerging faculty expertise.

Progress metric: Creation of new course offerings and curricular pathways.

Objective 2-4: Develop new offerings through distance learning (DL).

Emerging student needs include enhanced scheduling flexibility. DL course offerings with significant asynchronous components offer students the opportunity to consume course content at the times they can best accommodate.  Workforce education through certificate programs or advanced graduate degrees, including the clinical doctorate of speech-language pathology (SLPD) should be considered.  Students can also potentially move through the BA curriculum with some DL coursework.  Offering one HyFlex offering of our BA courses each year would allow students to chart a DL pathway through the program if they need maximum flexibility, but it would also assure that we are offering in-person courses to all students who want that experience.

Progress metric: Reports on certificate and SLPD options; introduction of more HyFlex course offerings for required and elective BA courses.

Objective 2-5: Create formal on-boarding, training, and review of graduate teaching associate (GTA) course instructors.

Graduate teaching associates are a critical part of the department’s teaching at the undergraduate level, and proper education and training in teaching and learning is highly valuable for the graduate students who fill those GTA roles.  Formal on-boarding into the GTA role, integrated with instruction in the Proseminar course and PhD seminar courses, will provide systemization of GTA preparation to ensure a high quality of teaching from the students in GTA roles, whether as assistants to other course instructors or independent course instructors themselves.

Progress metric: Creation of training pathways for GTAs, combined with undergraduate student learning assessment and GTA exit interview data to assess the value of these preparation experiences.

3)  Enhance the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the department’s students, faculty, staff, and programmatic offerings.

Rationale: Strengthening talent, culture, and inclusive excellence is the fourth pillar of the university’s academic plan and the ASC strategic plan. The professions and communities our department serve are diverse in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, culture, socio-economic status, neurodivergence, religion, and ideology. Our department strives to serve all people and to be open to new perspectives. This is articulated in our mission statement.  However, our faculty and student cohorts do not currently reflect this wide range of diverse populations.  We will continue to seek students, faculty, and staff who can offer new perspectives and to welcome those perspectives as part of our departmental community.

Objective 3-1: Continue to develop a department faculty that reflects the populations our professions serve.

With the overall goal of creating a more diverse department, one of the most important steps in that process is the recruitment of a diverse faculty.  Therefore, the goal will be to identify and actively recruit applications from faculty candidates from populations that are currently under-represented in our department.  In order to achieve this objective, the department will identify areas of expertise that we are currently lacking and work with the college to be awarded new hiring lines and then to provide highly competitive salaries and startup packages to candidates who will add meaningfully to our department.

Progress metric: Applications from, offers to, and additions of tenure-track and clinical faculty to the department from populations that are currently under-represented in our current faculty.

Objective 3-2: Increase and maintain faculty and staff equity in compensation and upward career mobility.

Equitable compensation is critical to faculty and staff’s sense of belonging in the department.  As with any unit in the university, we are challenged by salary compression as it relates to many of the faculty who have been with us the longest.  The department will regularly compare salaries to those of peer institutions and will work with the college and Office of Human Resources to provide equity salary adjustments when needed.  At the unit level, the department chair will deploy the Annual Merit Compensation Program to maintain equity in pay scales to the extent possible.  Further, as the faculty and clinical offerings of the department grow, the administrative staff need to grow proportionally.  Maintaining an equitable and inclusive environment for staff requires proper scaling of staff size to distribute the workload to manageable levels.

Progress metric: Maintaining alignment with faculty and staff salaries against peer units in the college and university and peer units in other institutions; scaling the size of the staff to keep responsibility portfolios at reasonable and competitive levels.

Objective 3-3: Creation and development of a Spanish-English bilingual graduate certificate program in speech-language pathology.

As part of the Office of Academic Affairs’ RAISE initiative, the departments of Speech and Hearing Science and Spanish and Portuguese were able to hire two tenure-track assistant professors with expertise in Spanish-English bilingualism.  To advance Spanish-English bilingual speech-language pathology further, the department will create a Category 3 certificate program that will be available to MA-SLP students.  The program will require curricular development, expansion of the clinical client base, and the addition of clinical faculty with expertise in Spanish-English bilingualism.

Progress metric: Creation, curricular approval, and implementation of the certificate program.

Objective 3-4: Identify and cultivate funding opportunities to support graduate students with financial needs.

Students from populations that are under-represented in our professions often face significant financial pressures in making the decision to enter graduate school.  In order to facilitate growth of a diverse student body that feels that they are included and belong in our programs, financial support from the department in the form of scholarships and fellowships will be a necessity.  The department will seek external scholarship resources and advancement opportunities to support students with financial needs.

Progress metric: Increased funding support for current and incoming students with financial needs.

4)  Continue and expand the clinic’s role as a leader in outreach to the communities of central Ohio and beyond.

Rationale: Enhancing impact through external engagement is the third pillar of the university’s academic plan and the ASC strategic plan. The Ohio State University Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic (OSUSLHC) fulfils two critical roles in the department.  It provides crucial training to graduate students in the AuD and MA-SLP programs, and it provides outreach opportunities for patients/clients in the central Ohio community and beyond to receive affordable clinical services.  This outreach is a significant part of the service work that the department completes every year and is a pillar of our current Vision Statement.

Objective 4-1: Expand the OSUSLHC’s outreach through hearing and language screenings as part of service-learning opportunities.

This objective serves multiple purposes.  It increases outreach to the community, expands access to services to under-served populations, and it offers innovative clinical experiences for our undergraduate students (Objective 2-1 above).  Creation of service-learning courses also aligns with a point of emphasis in the university’s new general education curriculum and could lead to increases in enrollments (Objective 5-1 below), as well as introducing speech and hearing science to students from other disciplines.

Progress metric: Curricular approval for new service-learning courses, implementation of the new courses, and enrollments from undergraduate students in the course(s).

Objective 4-2: Expand clinical offerings to meet the needs of the community.

Our clinical fields are fluid and dynamic.  As new pathways for evidence-based clinical diagnostics and interventions arise, new populations of patients and clients can be served.  The OSUSLHC is an ever-evolving clinic that is well positioned to provide cutting-edge services to the community.  This will likely require resources in the forms of additional trainings for our clinical faculty, acquisition of new equipment, and potentially collaborating with other units on campus for inter-professional education.  Examples of growth areas include vestibular diagnosis and management, tinnitus, alternative and augmentative communication (AAC), stuttering, dysphagia, and assistive technology.

Progress metric: Development and implementation of new clinical offerings.

Objective 4-3: Build out and grow specialty clinical areas in speech-language pathology and audiology.

As a partner to Objective 4-2, our department has clinical faculty with unique areas of expertise.  Those areas of expertise offer unique opportunities to provide services to the community and train students.  As those specialty clinic areas grow, there will be multiple benefits to the department.  The clinical areas will allow the OSUSLHC to serve new patients and clients; they will allow our MA-SLP and AuD programs to attract talented and motivated students who want to develop these areas of expertise; they will allow collaborations between clinical and tenure-track/research faculty to create innovative new areas of research; they will create tracks for students to transition from the clinical programs to PhD programs; they can be a focal point for attracting funding through external grants/contracts and philanthropy gifts; they will raise the visibility of the department nationally; and they will represent meaningful contributions to the department, college, and university on which clinical faculty can be promoted. 

Progress metric: Growth in the specialty clinics as evidenced by increased patient and student engagement, external funding sources, and visibility in national conferences and scholarly journals.

5)  Increase departmental budget flexibility through increased revenue streams and reduction of fiscal inefficiencies.

Rationale: Many, if not all, of the above goals and objectives require, or would benefit from, additional resources, including human resources, additional available time, upgraded/expanded facilities, scholarships, or other direct infusions of money.  Achieving operations excellence is the sixth pillar of the university’s academic plan and the ASC strategic plan. Creating more budgetary flexibility will allow the department to better fulfill its mission.  Notably, some of the objectives listed above (1-1, 2-3, 2-4, 3-3, 4-2) will also contribute directly to this goal.

Objective 5-1: Increase department fiscal year credit hours generated to 10,000.

The department’s credit hours generated peaked in 2013-2014 at roughly 10,000.  Since that time, the number has steadily declined, with a transient spike in 2020 and 2021 due to the enrollment pattern changes across the university prompted by Covid-19. In fiscal year 2023, the total was 8043.  Increasing the credit hours generated by 25% to 10,000 would significantly increase the department’s contribution to the division and college’s credit hour totals and strengthen the department’s budgetary general funds allocation (GFA).

Progress metric: Increased credit hours generated year-over-year.

Objective 5-2: Consolidate course offerings to optimize the deployment of current faculty and instructors.

As enrollments in some courses grow, there may be a need to increase course offerings within each academic year or semester to meet the growing demand.  Conversely, there may be courses the department is offering 2-3 times per academic year, or even once per academic year, that do not generate enrollments to justify that frequency of offerings.  While the goal is to keep enrollments increasing, if we can do so with fewer course offerings, that will maximize the budgetary return to the department.

Progress metric: Completion of reports to reflect the need to keep or consolidate course offerings; actions based on those data.

Objective 5-3: Increase philanthropic gifts to the department and its initiatives.

The department has room to expand its advancement efforts both through major gifts and through smaller, grassroots development efforts.  The department has impactful stories to tell about student success and grateful patients and clients.  We will work with the college development office to communicate our message to our community of alumni, partners, families, and patient/clients.

Progress metric: Increased development dollars flowing to the department.

Objective 5-4: Develop standalone workforce development credentialing offerings.

A major new focus area for the university is workforce development, which are offerings that expand the skills and enhance the upward career mobility of the current workforce.  Speech and Hearing Science is well positioned to offer meaningful credentialing opportunities for speech-language pathologists and audiologists who are currently in the workforce and need to develop new skills or acquire continuing education units.  These credentialing offerings can be credit-bearing to align with Objective 5-1 or non-credit-bearing to provide additional revenue streams to the department.

Progress metric: Creation and implementation of new credentialing programs for the existing workforce.