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Dr. Karl White is USU's Latest Endowed Chair

Thursday, Jun. 06, 2013

USU professor Karl White holds an endowed chair at the university

Karl White hold's USU’s ninth endowed chair, the Emma Eccles Jones Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education. He spoke during the ceremony held for the announcement.

children from the Sound Beginnings program performing

Children from the Sound Beginnings program performed during the announcement ceremony.

Karl and Amy White at ceremony

Karl White and his wife, Amy, at the celebration.

The Very Reverend Frederick Q. Lawson at USU celebration

The Very Reverend Frederick Q. Lawson, trustee for the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation, was on hand for the announcement.

Earlier in May 2013, Dr. Karl White was named the Emma Eccles Jones Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education at Utah State University. He fills USU’s ninth endowed chair, and the fourth established within the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

The occasion is one more milestone on a long road of hard work. 

Dr. White has been a driving force behind early identification of children with hearing loss, and his work has intersected with millions of lives all over the world.

Following research he headed up at USU and elsewhere, the testing of infants’ hearing became standard in the state of Utah in the 1990s. While the practice spread slowly, 98 percent of infants in the United States are now screened for hearing loss. Building on the work done at USU, newborn hearing screening has also been implemented in many other countries around the world.  

He serves on many national and international advisory groups, including the United States Department of Health and Human Services, March of Dimes, the American College of Medical Genetics and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. White currently is the founding director of the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management at Utah State University. NCHAM is the national resource center for implementing and improving early hearing detection and intervention.

Meanwhile, the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation endowed five chairs within the College of Education and Human Services. These gifts recognize leaders in their fields, support research and help train quality graduate students. They attract and retain world-class talent and carry on Emma's dream of extending quality education to all young children.

Dr White was appointed to the second of the five chairs. The distinction will support the continued work for children with hearing loss by providing a little extra clout and credibility, he said. It will also provide some funds to support research.

“You couldn’t find anyone better qualified than Karl to be named an endowed chair,” said Beth Foley, dean of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

The early identification of hearing loss helps children live to their full potential, White said.

“It’s about establishing a sound foundation for children who are deaf that enables them to achieve and succeed every bit as well as children with normal hearing,” he said.

He acknowledges that language development is a huge part of their success — and that the need can be satisfied through learning American Sign Language or technology. Whatever route parents choose for their children, it needs to be supported.

Dr. White has been involved in offering options to families who want their children to learn to listen and speak. While glasses may instantly correct vision, using a hearing aid or cochlear implant is more complex. The brain needs to learn how to understand and interpret the input the technology brings — and if parents choose listening and spoken language as an option, that language development will need extra support.

Dr. White and the National Center for the Hearing Assessment and Management teamed up with Foley, who at the time headed up the Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education Department at Utah State. As a result, the Sound Beginnings program was founded for children with hearing loss from birth to age 5.

It is one of two programs in the country that combine deaf education, speech/language pathology and audiology.

“Our hope is that by demonstrating what’s really possible, other schools will pick up and start doing the same thing,” he said.

Sound Beginnings’ founders deliberately chose a public school model to ensure that tuition would not be an obstacle for potential students.

Projects currently underway at NCHAM are focused on developing more effective hearing screening and intervention programs, including teleintervention (using technology to reach people in rural areas).

Related links:

USU Psychology Department

USU Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services

Contact: Karl White,

Writer: JoLynne Lyon,

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