Fall 2022 Newsletter

People walking outside on campus

Dear Friends:

I hope this letter finds you well. As we prepare for the 2022-2023 school year, things look very different from the last two years. So much time has been spent revising and reinventing our standard operating procedures during the first waves of the COVID pandemic that we didn’t take sufficient time to celebrate our many accomplishments.

Let me take this opportunity to do just that: to celebrate the many wonderful things that we have accomplished recently, and that we will continue to accomplish in the near future.  

New People

So many new people have joined SLHS. 

  • Erin Bodner, an alum of our MA in speech-language pathology, is now a full-time clinical supervisor. She has taken over the Sioris Family University of Minnesota Camp for Kids who Stutter. (See a story on the camp, “Stuttering Doesn’t Define You,” in this issue.)  Erin has also begun a program of animal-assisted therapy with our new colleague Frankie the therapy dog (also a story in this issue). 
  • Dr. Ben Eisenreich has joined SLHS as a research engineer. Ben brings a wealth of expertise, energy, creativity, and downright brilliance to his role. 
  • Olivia Matthys and Kristie Gonzelez have joined SLHS as project managers for Dr. Liza Finestack and Dr. Kerry Ebert, respectively. Both Olivia and Kristie are alums of our MA program in speech-language pathology. 
  • We also welcomed Dr. Melissa Polonenko as a new assistant professor in fall 2021. Shelvin Hall is full and buzzing with new energy. 


Of course, us long-timers have been busy, too. 

  • Dr. Peggy Nelson continues to do important, community-engaged research. Her work on wind turbines and birds was highlighted in the Star Tribune
  • Drs. Kerry Ebert and Matt Winn were each promoted to associate professor with indefinite tenure. 
  • I was awarded the Horace T. Morse - University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, and I am deeply grateful for the hard work of the students and colleagues who nominated me. 

Gopher Equity Project Grant

Our department continues its social justice efforts in great earnest. Dr. Liza Finestack was recently awarded a grant from the Gopher Equity Project, which will support a year of programming in which faculty, staff, and students will work together to weave issues of justice, equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion into our entire curriculum. Individual faculty and staff members continue to work on issues of race, gender, sexuality, and social justice in our individual research programs and clinical service lines.

Stay in Touch

One of the pleasures of being chair has been the opportunity to reconnect with our many alums. Please don’t ever hesitate to drop us a line and let us know what you are up to. Very best wishes on continued success and happiness in your lives.

Ben Munson
Professor and Chair
Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

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