Ms. Crystal Murphree-Holden, a clinical instructor and the director of distance education in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD), has been named the recipient of the 2017 Frank R. Kleffner Clinical Award from the South Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SCSHA). The award recognizes one individual each year for outstanding contributions to clinical science and practice in communication science disorders over the course of a career.
[Photo: Ms. Crystal Murphree-Holden]
Ms. Murphree-Holden began her commitment to the field after earning a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Tennessee in 1980. In the 36 years since then, she has dedicated her professional and personal time and energy to advancing the field.
During the first 25 years of her career, Ms. Murphree-Holden amassed considerable experience as a speech-language pathologist working with children in public schools and with private pediatric and adult populations. Treating individuals with a variety of communication and related disorders in a range of settings helped prepare Ms. Murphree-Holden for serving as a clinical instructor within the COMD department part-time for ten years (1994-2004) before joining the department full-time in 2004.
As a clinical instructor in the department’s USC Speech and Hearing Research Center (and previously as an external clinical supervisor), Ms. Murphree-Holden educates and mentors the department’s master’s students. The preparation of these students is critical as they will become future speech-language pathologists –some of whom will become researchers who advance the science of the communication sciences and disorders field.
“Crystal’s service as a clinical supervisor for our graduate students simultaneously contributes to the clinical practice and science of our field,” says center director Ms. Danielle Varnedoe. “As a supervisor, she is teaching and guiding students on principles and practices of how to conduct speech and language assessment and intervention. Even more so, because of her deep understanding and commitment to evidence-based practice and the importance of helping graduate students understand the link between the research and practice of our discipline, she is helping shape students to become clinical scientists, individuals who are true problem-solvers and critical thinkers.”
Ms. Murphree-Holden’s role as director of distance education is also critical to the department’s success. COMD offers two master’s degree programs that prepare students for careers in speech-language pathology, and one of them is offered primarily though distance learning. Known as the Master of Communication Disorders in Speech-Language Pathology (MCD), this part-time option involves comprehensive coursework and significant time blocks of clinical experiences. Like its full-time, on-campus counterpart (Master of Speech Pathology (MSP)), the MCD degree program is challenging and requires a high level of commitment from students to be successful—thanks in part to Ms. Murphree-Holden’s efforts and leadership.