One of the founders of UC’s audiology program, Robert "Bob” Keith, PhD, has beenhonored with Beltone’s 2013 Larry Mauldin Award for Excellence in Education.
Keith, director of audiology in the College of Allied Health Sciences’ Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, receive the award from hearing aid manufacturer Beltone at the AudiologyNOW! Convention in Anaheim, Calif., April 3-6.
Beltone presented the award to Keith for his contributions to the field of audiology through education, research, and innovation. Mauldin Award nominees are nominated and selected solely by their peers in audiology.
As part of the award, Keith received a $1,500 award, which he plans to donate to the Robert W. Keith, PhD, Audiology Research Endowment Fund.
The fund was created by Keith, his wife, Kathy Thornton-Keith, and with the encouragement and support from former student Lisa Hunter, PhD, and colleagues David Brown, PhD,and Paul Willging, MD, in 2011. It reached endowment level this spring, and Keith’s new goal is to raise an additional $50,000. Beginning next academic year, the fund will be able to provide financial assistance to UC audiology students in conducting basic and applied research.
"I’ve seen the increasing cost of college,” says Keith. "Students end up with huge student loans and can’t afford to do the things they need to do, travel to conferences, conduct research and reimburse subjects. They need financial help.”
Keith has plenty of experience guiding audiology students through their work. Through his 40-plus years at UC, he has either chaired or served on approximately 180 master’s, AuD and PhD thesis committees.
In his first role at UC, in 1967, Keith served as head of audiology in the College of Medicine’s Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. In that position, he set up audiology and speech pathology programs at local hospitals, including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He also worked with UC’s surgeons in intraoperative monitoring of nerve and brain function during skull base and orthopedic operations.
Outside of the university, Keith served the field of audiology as one of the founding members of the American Academy of Audiology where he served as president and as chair of several committees. He is a fellow of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
In 2008, he retired from the College of Medicine and transitioned to the College of Allied Health Sciences, where he teaches and advises PhD and AuD students.
"When I started in audiology, you went out to the public and said, ‘I’m an audiologist,’ and they didn’t know what that meant,” he says. "Now everybody knows what that is. Audiologists are now firmly established in the health care system—everything from working in the public school system to private practices.”
Keith says the advances in cochlear implants have led audiologists to play a large role in early rehabilitation of children with hearing impairments and early hearing testing.
He says it’s going to be interesting to see how the rapid innovations in technology affects the field in the future, especially combined with the rising demand for hearing aids from baby boomers.
"Old-fashioned hearing aids were pretty simple devices,” says Keith. "But hearing aids now—they are essentially efficient, miniature computers. It takes a lot of professional skill to fit them properly. Our challenge will be to help the public understand the role of the audiologist in that fitting.”