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2006 Faculty Awards: 'Matchmaker' Breen Puts Students at the Center


No one around the College of Allied Health Sciences thinks of Phyllis Breen in terms of being an adjunct part-time faculty member. That's one measure of how much of a contribution she has made to the college and its students, on her way to earning an Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award.

Date: 5/5/2006 12:00:00 AM
By: Dama Kimmon
Phone: (513) 558-4519
Photos By: Andrew Higley

UC ingot   Many in the College of Allied Health Sciences probably thought there was a typo when they read that their colleague, Phyllis Breen, was the recipient of the 2006 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member award.

Not because she doesn’t deserve it — her contributions to the university and the students she serves are invaluable — but because they probably never thought Breen was here only part-time.

Breen began working for UC 23 years ago — before the College of Allied Health Sciences even existed. What started as two days a week quickly turned to four, and she’s been carrying that workload ever since.

Phyllis Breen advising a student
Advising students for clinical practicum activities in speech-language pathology is among Phyllis Breen's roles.

 

As an adjunct clinical faculty member in the department of communication sciences and disorders, Breen has taught the introductory clinical process course for undergraduates, and clinical skills to graduate students while also supervising their first practicum experience. She also serves as director of the on-campus speech-language clinic and teaches a practicum piece for the newly formed distance-learning program in the department.

But probably her biggest task involves managing the clinical practicum activities of master’s degree students in speech-language pathology — more than 60 students each year needing at least three clinical placements each.

"Some told me recently that I’m a matchmaker," says Breen. "I thought about it for a second and said, ‘I guess I am!’"

Breen searches the community for locations serving people with speech-language problems, evaluates those sites and then interviews her students to find the perfect match.

She puts great care into her "matchmaking," because she knows that the clinical experience can set the tone for a student’s career.

"The type of experience they have is so important," says Breen. "It can have such an influence on what they decide to do once they graduate."

Breen’s attitude toward students’ clinical experience has had a huge impact on the college, says one nominator.

Phyllis Breen working with young students
Breen helps young students in the speech-language clinic.

 

Thanks to the personalized clinical placements, the nominator says, the program has developed a great reputation for transforming master’s students into strong and confident speech-language pathologists by the time they graduate.

Breen also coordinates speech-language programs at the Arlitt Child and Family Development Center and UC Childcare Center.

"She has a passion for teaching and learning that energizes those around her," another nominator wrote. "She’s a life-long learner that sees responding to others as part of her mission. Her mission is best practice. She fulfills it well."

Before coming to UC, Breen worked at various sites around Detroit, Milwaukee and Cincinnati helping those with speech-language problems

It’s experience like that, she says, that makes adjunct faculty such an important part of the university setting.

Phyllis Breen
Breen outside the entrance to the College of Allied Health Sciences.

"Adjunct faculty have the important role of adding to the great experiences of our students and can really enrich programming," says Breen. "I’m truly honored to receive this award and represent the many wonderful adjunct faculty across the university." says Breen.

Breen spends her free time with her family or volunteering for countless organizations around Cincinnati that serve people with disabilities—something her husband enjoys doing as well. She also loves theater and reading, and has been part of a tennis group for 20 years.

She and her husband have three grown children and two grandchildren.



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