USAO News Bureau

Holland retires from USAO with legacy of service

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Diane Holland had a five-year plan.

After working as a speech pathologist for the Norman Public School system, she was intrigued by the possibility of teaching when a position at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma opened up but didn’t want to become too far removed from working with clients.

Twenty-two years later, Diane Holland is retiring from a career of educating speech pathologists who have gone on to treat thousands and from running the John Morris Speech and Language Clinic that has helped hundreds in Chickasha and the surrounding communities.

Born in California, Holland spent her first year as an undergrad at the University of Nebraska. After reading a newspaper article on speech pathology as a career, she transferred to Kearney State College (now University of Nebraska at Kearney) where she earned her bachelor and master’s degree in speech language pathology.

Holland and her husband, Martin, moved to Norman in the mid-1980’s to be closer to his family.

She worked with the Norman Public School system for five years before taking a position on faculty at USAO in 1991.

When Holland arrived, the speech pathology department was located in Austin Hall with a two-therapy room clinic. While the new clinic was being built in Gary Hall, the clinic operated out of the old Jane Brooks School.

Most of the clinical services at that time were provided at the Washita Valley Headstart Program.

Today, the clinic, with five therapy rooms and adjoining observation rooms, is located in Gary Hall and serves more than 20 clients during the fall and spring trimesters. The clinic provides affordable services to pediatric clients with communication disorders.

“Private speech pathologists charge somewhere between $75 and $100 per hour,” Holland said. “We’ve been there to grow along with the demand and really serve the community.”

“That feels great.”

Holland asserts that USAO’s contribution to the field of speech language pathology can be measured well beyond its local footprint.

“You can’t become a licensed speech language pathologist with just a bachelor’s degree,” Holland said. “There are only five graduate programs in the state of Oklahoma and they are highly competitive. USAO’s speech pathology graduates are being accepted into those programs at an 80 percent success rate.”

The key to their success, on top of hard work and determination, is the university’s liberal arts core that emphasizes critical thinking, problem solving and interdisciplinary learning.

“USAO is also the only program serving the southern half of Oklahoma,” Holland said. “Our graduates are being snapped up by hospitals and public schools.”

After her retirement from USAO, Holland is going into private practice in Norman at a clinic where she will continue to serve in a teaching role to newer practitioners.

She is looking forward to spending more time with her family and husband, Martin, who works as a business coach in Norman.

Though she is entering this next phase of her life with enthusiasm, Holland says she will miss the campus community and all of the lives her position has allowed her to positively influence.

“One of my favorite parts of this job has been in transitioning from teacher to colleague with my students,” Holland said.

“I’ve loved everything I’ve done in the field of speech pathology and I loved USAO to the extent that it took me well beyond my original five-year plan.”

More information about USAO’s speech language pathology department can be obtained by calling 574-1328.