COE Communication Sciences and Disorders’ 60th Anniversary Faculty Highlight: Dr. Lizbeth Stevens

By Rachel Renou, COE Grad Assistant | Published December 23, 2020

A photo of Lizbeth Stevens.
Lizbeth Stevens
A photo of Lizbeth Stevens.

Lizbeth Stevens

YPSILANTI -- Helen Keller once said, “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” Dr. Lizbeth Stevens has taken this quote to heart throughout her professional career. From her time as a Speech Language Pathologist, as faculty at Eastern Michigan’s College of Education, and into retirement Dr. Stevens has worked with a passion to positively impact others. No matter her role, she has always advocated for individuals with speech and hearing impairments and for the professionals who work with them.

Dr. Stevens is a Professor Emerita at EMU. While faculty in the COE Dr. Stevens taught at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in the Speech Pathology program. Some of her courses taught included Augmentative Alternative Communication, Language Disorders in Children and Language Acquisition. In addition to the Speech Pathology program, Dr. Stevens helped educate in the Special Education Department in which she taught Speech and Language Development in Children with Exceptional Learning Needs and Adaptive Technology.

Dr. Stevens was also deeply involved in the program’s activities outside of the classroom. When the Communication Sciences and Disorders program was celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2010 Dr. Stevens was the current Program Director. She exclaimed how exciting of an opportunity it was to be a part of the program’s milestone.

“I feel especially grateful to have been our program director when we celebrated our 50th anniversary. At the time I was able to meet and interview past distinguished emeritus faculty of the program including Angelo Angeloci, Thelma Albritton, and Marge Chamberlain. They told stories of the early days. We mapped out where our graduates had gone, and they were in about 48 of 50 states,” (Dr. Stevens).

In addition, Dr. Stevens was the Graduate Coordinator where she handled admissions for many years. She also worked diligently throughout her time with the COE to improve the program. With administration’s support she received funding to attend conferences, obtain needed equipment, labs, and materials to teach. Another way she improved the program was by visiting schools where students were placed. Her aim was to improve the quality of the student and supervisor relationships through feedback from the schools and clinics EMU worked with. Her trips included hospitals in Ann Arbor and Sylvania, Ohio, schools in various cities in Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Battle Creek and even Monroe County.

Improving the program with a team of other dedicated professionals was one of Dr. Steven’s favorite parts of the COE. Especially when it came to diversifying the program, Dr. Stevens was proud of the progress the CSD had made. During her 20 years in the program she saw growth in the number of men in the program, individuals from diverse cultures and ethnicities, and persons of all ages, some having two careers while in school.>

“Working directly at EMU with a diverse group of persons including faculty, staff, administration, and community partners was a favorite part of my job. People were dedicated and always made the welfare of students a top priority,” (Dr. Stevens).

Even into retirement Dr. Stevens has found ways to be actively involved. She supported the CSD program throughout the summer and fall of 2020 by supervising Clinic 1 and Clinic 2 students using Simucase, a virtual learning platform. During the summer she also volunteered as a contact tracer to help slow the spread of COVID19. When she isn’t volunteering she still finds time to enjoy retirement with her husband, bake, garden, read, and teach sewing/music to her grandchildren.

Remarkably, reflecting on all that Dr. Stevens has accomplished while at EMU would only make up half of her professional achievements. Some of the other leadership positions held by Dr. Stevens includes; a Site Visitor with the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), the Michigan Speech-Language-Hearing-Foundation (MSHF) President, Member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association’s (ASHA) first assembly, President of the Councils of State Association Presidents, and an ASHA fellow.

This list of extensive involvements has led Dr. Stevens to be recognized over the years. In 2019 she received the EMU Distinguished Women in Higher Education Leadership award. She told the COE how meaningful it was to be nominated by her EMU peers. In addition, Dr. Stevens has received the Dale Rice Award for Academic Innovation in Academic Service-Learning and Community Engagement, the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service, and twice selected as a Key Faculty Mentor at the EMU Celebration of Excellence.

Dr. Stevens used her leadership platforms to pursue her passion of improving life for those with speech and hearing impairments and the professionals who work with them. One example of her initiatives was establishing professional licensure for SLPs in Michigan.

“Licensure for Michigan took a very long time, literally decades. Many individuals worked tirelessly to make it happen. I played a role at the time as the MSHA President when the board was considering replacing our current lobbyist. With the selection of a new lobbyist and a change in the Governor (to Jennifer Granholm) we finally were able to pass the licensure bill and see it signed into law. I was fortunate to have been appointed to the first licensure board and later served as its vice-chair. We drafted the initial rules and regulations. It was a privilege to serve in this way,” (Dr. Stevens).

After a long and successful career, Dr. Stevens has a lot to be proud of. She can confidently look back and know that, like Helen Keller said, she did not refuse to do something when she knew she could. Her impact has positively influenced the SLP community, students, the COE, and the many individuals who face speech and hearing challenges everyday.

To those interested in becoming an SLP Dr. Stevens suggests some amazing advice.

“Whatever you do, just go about it with energy and enthusiasm! Reach out to other more senior professionals. Networking and professional collegiality are the best ways to learn the craft. Join your state association. Sign up for committees. Get to know others. You may develop friends that last a lifetime. Find that niche in the field you are passionate about. Do what you love; love what you do. Remember that in everything you do, you make a difference,” (Dr. Stevens).

About The College of Education at Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, The College of Education (COE) at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) continues to be one of the largest producers of educational personnel in the nation. The COE includes a comprehensive variety of programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral program level. Non-degree and certifications are also offered through the COE as well. The COE includes departments for teacher education, special education, and leadership & counseling. All of the professional education programs offered by EMU’s COE are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and are also approved by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). The graduates the EMU produces are highly desired in the field, due to the strong reputation the COE has earned throughout their many established years. The COE has been recognized for its strong success rate by U.S. News and World Report’s: America’s Best Colleges.