Spotlight: The Department of Communication Disorders

We asked Dr. Sandra Wright, Assistant Professor of Communication Science Disorders at The University of Tulsa, to tell us about the Department of Communication Disorders at TU, and this is what she had to say…

As a former student at both the bachelor’s and master’s level, and current undergraduate advisor and assistant professor in speech-language pathology, it is my pleasure to share information about the Department of Communication Disorders at The University of Tulsa.  The department contains two majors at the bachelor’s level: speech-language pathology and deaf education; and also offers a master’s of science in speech-language pathology at the graduate level. There are a total of eight full-time faculty members within the department, comprising the following roles:

  • Three academic professors in speech-language pathology, all of whom hold the certificate of clinical competency by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in speech-language pathology;
  • Four clinical professors in speech-language pathology, three of which hold the certificate of clinical competency by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in speech-language pathology and one who holds the certificate of clinical competency by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in audiology;
  • One academic professor in deaf education.

Both majors also offer student groups, DeafTU and TUSSHLA, geared towards undergraduates to learn more information about their future careers, as well as have the ability to network with working professionals in the major of choice within the TU community.

On-Campus Clinic

Students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in speech-language pathology have access to, and actively participate in, activities within the Mary K. Chapman Center for Communicative Disorders, an on-campus speech and hearing clinic. Student involvements in the clinic range from observation of clinical practices, research practices, and work study opportunities. 


There are several students at both the undergraduate and graduate level who are actively engaged in research practices. Here are a few examples:

  • One undergraduate student is conducting survey-based research on training practices of graduate students in speech-language pathology in regard to multidisciplinary clinical practice with occupational and physical therapists. 
  • Another undergraduate student completed a study evaluating the effectiveness of iPad technology in acquisition of unfamiliar vocabulary for students reading digital text compared to paper-based text. 
  • Graduate level research throughout the past year has included evaluation of scaffolding of confrontational naming strategies for persons with aphasia, effectiveness of language and articulation intervention within natural contexts in the community, exploring writing development, patterns and strategies of a child using an eye-gaze augmentative and alternative communication system, and qualitative analyses of persons with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), their care providers and medical personnel regarding diagnostic procedures and treatment strategies for the disease.

Clinical Practicum Opportunities

As can be determined by the range of ongoing research within the field of speech-language pathology, the scope of practice for speech-language pathologists is quite large.  Students receiving a master’s degree in speech-language pathology will be able to work with any aged individual with a diagnosed communication or swallowing disorder. In addition the rigorous coursework and varied clinical practicum opportunities the University of Tulsa has many additional resources for students. TU offers students:  

  • access to a $100,000 hands-on laboratory of augmentative and alternative communication systems
  • a play room that allows the integration of the different senses (touch, sight, sound, and smell) through speech and language intervention
  • a multidisciplinary team approach for people with cleft lip, cleft palate or both
  • a laboratory with equipment for high quality treatment for persons with voice disorders
  • the ability to facilitate, or engage in, a support group for persons with cochlear implants.


-Dr. Sandra Wright, Ph.D