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10th anniversary of Goldstick Family Lecture highlights progress in combating communication disorders

by The College of Education / Nov 19, 2014

This year’s Goldstick Family Lecture in the Study of Communication Disorders marked the 10th anniversary of the event, which took place Oct. 30 at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.

The standing-room-only crowd listened to scholar Ann P. Kaiser, the Susan W. Gray Professor of Education and Human Development at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, give the annual lecture.

The Goldstick Family Initiative in the Study of Communication Disorders - "Marissa's Story"

Professor Kaiser’s presentation, “Every Child is Communicating Now: Some Things We Know as Scientists, Some Things We Know as Humans,” covered three decades of research on children who have autism and other developmental disabilities that impact spoken language.

Kaiser serves as the principal investigator on several research and demonstration grants focusing on naturalistic early communication interventions to assist children with language delays.

Professor Michaelene Ostrosky, head of the Department of Special Education and Goldstick Family Scholar at the College of Education at Illinois, said Kaiser’s contributions to her field are extraordinary.

Speaker Ann P. Kaiser“All one needs to say is ‘milieu teaching’ or ‘language and special needs,’ and Dr. Kaiser’s name rises to the forefront as someone who has shaped the field of early language intervention for children with language delays and developmental disabilities,” Ostrosky said.

Through the generous support of Phillip C. and Beverly Goldstick, an endowment was created for the College of Education in the spring of 2005 to fund the Goldstick Initiative for the Study of Communication Disorders.

The fall lecture/seminar series that is made possible by this endowment enables Illinois faculty members, students, and scholars nationwide to share their research with the community.

The Goldsticks and KaiserThe Goldstick Initiative also provides fellowships to two Ph.D. students whose research focuses on communication disorders and delays.

"They are passionate champions for those with communication disorders,” said Dean Mary Kalantzis. “Their deep commitment to research continues to break new ground in this area and will make life better for those who cannot advocate for themselves."

Although the Goldsticks are not College of Education alumni, their investment in the Department of Special Education hits close to home. Their granddaughter, Marissa Zelinger, was diagnosed with Rett syndrome—a condition similar to autism that makes traditional communication nearly impossible for a child. As a result, the Goldsticks recognized the importance of supporting neurological research and fostering awareness.

Audience at the 2014 Goldstick LectureThe newly established Marissa Zelinger Innovation Research Award will be used to provide research awards to Special Education faculty and graduate student teams doing research on Rett syndrome.

The Goldstick Family Scholar in Communications Disorders—currently a position held by Ostrosky—serves as the coordinator of the Goldstick Initiative. Income from the endowment provides salary support and funding to research programs in communications disorders.

This year’s event, which was followed by a reception, included remarks by Dean Kalantzis, Phil Goldstick, Caryn Goldstick, and Professor Ostrosky.

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