ETSU Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology welcomes new chair

Published 1:32 pm Thursday, August 13, 2020

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JOHNSON CITY  East Tennessee State University’s College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences (CCRHS) recently announced the appointment of Dr. Bess Sirmon-Taylor as chair of the Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.
Prior to joining ETSU’s faculty this summer, Sirmon-Taylor served as associate dean for academic affairs at University of Texas at El Paso, College of Health Sciences.
She is a licensed and nationally certified speech-language pathologist and worked as a clinical practitioner for more than 25 years before becoming a full-time academic. Her research interests focus on concussion management and analysis of ethics in health care and other professional disciplines.
She earned a Ph.D. in linguistics at University of Georgia, an M.S. in psychology at Georgia College, a B.S. and M.S. in speech pathology and audiology at Florida State University, and an associate degree at North Florida College.
“We are very excited to welcome Dr. Sirmon-Taylor to ETSU,” said Dr. Don Samples, CCRHS dean. “She is an accomplished clinician and leader in higher education, and brings a wealth of diverse professional experience in education, administration and health care settings.”
Sirmon-Taylor began her new role on Aug. 3.
“ETSU’s Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology has a strong national reputation, and it is an honor and privilege to be a part of this team,” Sirmon-Taylor said.
Sirmon-Taylor succeeds Dr. Brenda Louw, who has served as chair for the past 11 years. Louw is stepping down as chair to focus on her research and teaching in the Speech-Language Pathology master’s program and in various personnel preparation grants.
“I would like to thank Dr. Louw for more than a decade of leadership,” Samples said. “Under her guidance, the department has grown on multiple levels.”
Louw was the first recipient of the ETSU School of Graduate Studies Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award in 2014 and received the CCRHS Distinguished Faculty Award for teaching in 2018. In October 2019, she helped guide the Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology through a successful reaccreditation process.
To learn more about ETSU’s Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, visit

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