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Communicative Disorders’ Madding Honored as Diversity Champion

Published: February 1, 2010

Communicative Disorders Chair Carolyn Conway Madding was named a Diversity Champion recently by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in a ceremony held in New Orleans.

Madding was recognized for her initiation, development and supervision of CSULB’s Linguistically Different Clinic which incorporates instruction in bilingual assessment and management and for restructuring of the Communicative Disorders Department curriculum to include instruction in serving clients from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

“During the 20 years I have been here, we have treated clients in 26 different languages with disorders that cover the spectrum, including aphasia, traumatic brain injuries, autism and stuttering,” pointed out Madding, who has brought in almost $2 million in grant money for the education of bilingual speech-language pathologists. “These linguistically different services are so rare in this area that people will come from 40 to 50 miles away to avail themselves of these services.”

Madding, who joined CSULB in 1989, said she was honored to receive the award’s medallion and a standing ovation from her peers. “It was a very special honor to get this award,” she said. “When I came to Cal State Long Beach, I came to work on the diversity track. For me to get this award was the icing on the cake after having spent 21 years working in the area of diversity. Our linguistically different clinic has been in operation for 21 years to provide services for anybody with any communicative disorder whose first language is not English. We also do special evaluations for the Stephen Benson Program to determine if students being evaluated for a learning disability may have a language-based problem. A language disorder can only be determined if the student is evaluated and shows problems in all languages spoken, and is not an English-as-a-second-language problem.”

Madding believes her initiation of the linguistically different clinic was a big reason for her distinction. “There is no other clinic like this,” she explained. “Some schools allow a student to work with one or two clients in the student and client’s non-English language. All of our graduate students must obtain clinical hours in the Linguistically Different Clinic. Even if they speak only English, they go through the clinic and work with an interpreter to serve people in another language. That is unique in this profession.”

Madding also received the Diversity Award in 2002 from The California Speech-Language-Hearing Association and a 2009 ASHA Fellowship Award. One of the highest honors the association can bestow, the ASHA Fellowship recognizes professional or scientific achievement and is given to members who have made outstanding contributions to the professions – contributions that are significant within and beyond one’s community or state. The honor is retained for life.


ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 150,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders. ASHA recognizes Diversity Champions for advancing multicultural issues in communication sciences and disorders.

Madding earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Ohio State, a master’s in communicative disorders from Cal State Fullerton in 1982 and a Ph.D. in anthropology and linguistics from Claremont Graduate University in 1995.

In addition to the clinic, Madding is the co-creator of a new special cohort M.A. program, which is run through the university’s College of Continuing and Professional Education. Started in 2007, the program has doubled the number of graduate students in the Communicative Disorders Department. The first cohort of 30 students graduated last summer, and according to Madding, all 30 students left the program with good-paying jobs. A second cohort of students began last fall.

Her recognition as a Diversity Champion reflects how CSULB has changed in the 20 years since her arrival, Madding feels. “When I received my first grant, I had to scour the campus to find a bilingual student,” she recalled. “Now bilingual students practically beat down my door. We offer a welcome to students of all linguistic groups and ethnicities. Other programs believe students must speak English as a first language in order to be a competent speech-language pathologist. ASHA doesn’t feel that way and neither do we.”

Madding felt near tears when she received her medallion and her standing ovation. “It was the highlight of my career,” she said.

–Richard Manly