Campus Life

USU Professor Receives Pioneers of Progress Award

The Days of '47 organization has awarded Utah State University professor Karl R. White the Pioneers of Progress Award in the field of Education, Health and Humanitarian Assistance. The award was presented as part of the annual Pioneer Day celebrations.

White is a professor of psychology at USU and the founding director of the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management. He was honored for his work in early detection and treatment of hearing loss in infants and young children.
The award is given annually during the Days of ’47 celebrations to five outstanding Utahns who carry on the “pioneer legacy of industry and integrity” by achievements that benefit present and future generations. The honor has been awarded since 1995. Recipients are nominated by Utah citizens and are selected from various fields of industry.
White is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on early identification and treatment of hearing loss. He has written hundreds of publications and has been invited to speak in 31 countries, where he has also assisted in the implementation of newborn hearing screening and intervention programs.
“It is a great honor,” said White. “I am always surprised when I receive this kind of attention, in fact I look at all of the others around the state who have done so much and I wonder why the would pick me?”
White credited others for his success.
“I feel like I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “There are hundreds of other people involved in the development of newborn-hearing screening in this country and world-wide, I am grateful to be a part of it.”
White is being honored as a pioneer in the field of newborn-hearing screening. The importance of having newborns screened for hearing loss has been recognized for a long time, but it was White who spearheaded the movement in the early 1990s to develop the technology and create the programs necessary to screen all newborn children for hearing loss.
Before White and his colleagues began screening babies, it was widely believed among the medical community that about only one in 1,000 children are born without the ability to hear. But through his research and the actual screening process, White and his colleagues have proven that number to be about three in 1,000.
Through the screening process that White developed, doctors are now able to test babies for hearing problems that can also identify life-threatening diseases. It also gives them an increased understanding of childhood brain development.
White is currently pioneering the new “Sound Beginnings of Cache Valley” program that will give children who are born deaf the opportunity to learn to listen and talk through the use of hearing technology such as cochlear implants and digital hearing aids. It will also include participation in auditory-oral educational programs.
According to White, the program is only one of three like it in the entire United States and the only one between St. Louis and San Francisco. Participation in such programs during the first few years of life will enable most deaf children to succeed in school on a similar level to their hearing peers.
“This program will be a huge benefit to children with hearing loss and to their families,” said White. “It is very exciting to see how these children are able to communicate with their family members and peers. When they get the proper type of assistance, it makes all the difference in the world.”
For more information on White’s research, visit the National Center for Hearing Management’s Web site.

Contact: Karl White, (435) 797-3013,                                                  

Source: KC Muir, (435) 753-1732,

Karl White with infant

Karl White testing a newborn. White was honored by the Days of '47 organization and received the Pioneers of Progress Award in the field of Education, Health and Humanitarian Assistance.


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