July 29, 2005

New chair in Audiology honors Bess’ contributions

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Fred Bess, Ph.D.

New chair in Audiology honors Bess’ contributions

Fred H. Bess, Ph.D., has been honored by the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center Board with the establishment of an endowed chair in his name. This permanent tribute will give the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center a chair in Audiology to continue the great legacy established by Bess, who joined the Center in 1976 and is currently associate director and chair of the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences and professor of Audiology.

Bess has brought more than $15 million in training and research grants to the Center, and has received numerous awards, including several from the American Academy of Audiology.

“I'm honored and very humbled by the generosity of the donors,” said Bess.

“I'm very grateful for their willingness to support the chair.”

Tom Flood, chair of the Center's advisory board and a significant supporter, said, “If it weren't for Dr. Bess, the organization would not be what it is today. He has done an absolutely fabulous job with the Center, transforming it into an elite organization.”

The establishment of the Fred H. Bess chair in Audiology provides Vanderbilt with resources to attract world-class leaders in the field of Audiology.

“It was such a pleasure to work on this project,” said Judy Simmons, chair of the campaign. “My job was easy. There were so many friends and colleagues interested in supporting Fred with this great honor. Last year, under his leadership, Vanderbilt's Audiology program was ranked number one in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. It seems fitting that we were able to accomplish our goal at this time.”

The Bill Wilkerson Center was established in 1951 by Wesley Wilkerson, M.D., to meet the needs of children with communication disorders. Named after his son, who died at age 19 in World War II, the Center was the first independent institution in the country dedicated to communication disorders.

Jane Yount, daughter of Wilkerson and sister of the Center's namesake, along with her husband, Tom, launched the campaign with the lead gift.

“We are indebted to Fred Bess and to what he has done to help the Bill Wilkerson Center,” Yount noted.

“When my father started the Bill Wilkerson Center, his goal was service, research and teaching. All three of these things are of equal importance.”