A scholarship for Native American students in Washington State University’s Speech and Hearing Sciences program has reached the endowment level and will create a lasting legacy for its namesake — the late J. Richard Franks, Ph.D., a former professor and leader in the department.
Franks saw that Native Americans were vastly under-represented in the field and took action to change that. He secured U.S. Department of Education funding in the 1980s which established the foundation for WSU’s Native American professional preparation program in speech-language pathology and audiology.
Over a 25-year period, Franks was actively involved in the department’s efforts to recruit and graduate Native American students with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Gail Chermak, Ph.D., chair of the program, called Franks a visionary.
“Many of our Native American alumni have returned to serve their communities and have assumed professional leadership roles thanks to Dr. Franks,” Chermak said. “We all owe Dick Franks a huge debt of gratitude as we see the impact and contribution of his former students, as well as current and future Native Americans who might not have considered attending WSU had we not established a reputation for supporting Native American students to success.”
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