A Fond Farewell…

Alice Eriks-Brophy, Associate Professor,
Dept. of Speech-Language Pathology

The occasion of my retirement from the Department of SLP gives me pause to reflect on the time I spent here, and my various experiences and accomplishments…

When I arrived in Toronto as an assistant professor in 2002, I was struck by the multicultural and multilingual nature of the city, which corresponded well to my interest in the influence of culture and language socialization on communicative practices. The diversity of Toronto and of our student population has only continued to grow over the last 16 years. Over that time I have conducted several research projects that have focused primarily on the contributions of society, culture, and context to descriptions and understandings of communication difficulties, along with the theoretical and clinical impact of these variables on assessment and intervention in pediatric speech-language pathology. My research interests stem from my experiences as an itinerant teacher and an early intervention specialist working with children with hearing loss, as well as almost 40 years of experience as a classroom teacher, consultant, and researcher working with Indigenous communities in northern and southern Québec and Ontario. As examples of my most recent research, members of the Childhood Hearing Loss Laboratory have been using an exciting new technology, the Language ENvironment Analysis (LENA) System, to investigate the language socialization practices of families of minority language-speaking preschool children with and without hearing loss. We have also conducted a systematic review of the evidence to support auditory-verbal therapy (AVT) as an intervention approach for young children with hearing loss that was published in the leading textbook on AVT in the field.

A role I particularly enjoyed in the department was serving as the graduate coordinator from 2013-2015. In that position I had the opportunity to collaborate with the chair and other faculty members in administrative positions, participate in university-wide committees and events, and, most importantly, assist and support students from both the clinical and research streams. It was particularly gratifying to be able to arrive at the resolution of an issue through collaborative and responsive communication. Another of the highlights of my time in the department has been my contact with our vibrant and energetic SLP Alumni Association, where I served as Faculty Liaison for 12 years.

One thing I will miss is my regular contact with students who have kept me “on my toes” over all these years! Through teaching courses in aural rehabilitation and articulation development and disorders, as well as through the supervision of student research assistants, volunteers, and master’s and doctoral research students in two university SLP programs, I have been continually challenged to keep up with new ideas and recent developments in my various fields of interest, and to evaluate and integrate these into my own teaching and research projects. It has been a pleasure and an honor to have contributed to their education and professional development over the course of my career.

However, this is not to say that my association with research and teaching will stop on the day of my retirement. I will be participating in an SLP training program in Ethiopia for a month in the fall. I still have an ongoing research project to finish and write up, and will continue to supervise my last doctoral student. She is conducting exciting and innovative research on the role of music in the development of school readiness skills in young children with hearing loss, and will represent the Childhood Hearing Loss Lab in my absence.

I also have many hobbies and interests that I have had to put on the back burner for many years that I will now be able to pursue more regularly, including hand weaving, printing and dyeing wool and fabric with natural dyes and plants, and, of course, reading. I also have my cottage on the beach in PEI where I look forward to spending longer periods of time relaxing, as well as travel plans to visit new and exotic places. My family, and in particular my two young grandchildren, will also keep me busy in the most pleasant of all possible ways!

Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to my colleagues at the University of Toronto, the University of Ottawa, and internationally for the numerous ways you have supported me over the past 16 years; to my collaborators who helped advance our joint research investigations; to the dedicated clinicians who agreed each year to provide guest lectures in their areas of specialization for my articulation and AR classes; to the many parents and children who participated in various phases of my AVT outcomes research; and to the Indigenous communities who welcomed me into daycares, Head Start programs and schools to work together to examine existing challenges to the delivery of SLP services to children either directly or via technology. My career and my life have been enriched through knowing and working with you all.