Mercer Alum Ted Johnson Advances in Academe

2/13/08


For Dr. Ted Johnson, an associate professor of speech and hearing at Elmira College in upstate New York, MCCC provided a path to academic and professional success.

As the first in his immediate family to enroll in college in the late 1960s, Johnson had no idea of his career direction, so an affordable community college close to home was his best academic option. He studied at Mercer for two years and left just shy of his degree in 1970 to enter the Army Reserve during the height of the Vietnam War. Commissioned as a second lieutenant, he longed to complete his associate degree.

Dr. Ted Johnson, left, with three of his Speech Pathology students at Elmira College.

Johnson vividly remembers MCCC faculty, particularly History Professor David Collier, for sparking his quest to excel. "Dr. Collier was one of the most inspiring faculty members I have ever encountered," Johnson said of his former adviser and mentor. "He had a profound effect on me through his encouragement to reach higher goals."

An experience he had in the Army led him to his chosen career. "While in basic training, I had a drill sergeant who noticed that I stuttered from time to time," Johnson said. "He took it upon himself to make me his pet project to help boost my self-confidence. I became interested in learning about communication disorders. I was determined to complete my degree at Mercer and go on to explore my career options in the field of audiology." Johnson graduated from MCCC in 1974, earning an A.A. in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Over the years, Johnson worked in a variety of clinical and managerial sales settings prior to going on to Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey -- TCNJ) to earn a B.S. in Speech and Language Pathology in 1983 and an M.S. in Audiology in 1984.

Forging on, he earned a doctorate (Au.D.) in Audiology from the University of Florida in 2000. During interim assignments in academe, Johnson served on the faculty of TCNJ as a professor of audiology, and subsequently as a faculty liaison between Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Bloomsburg University, where he coordinated a joint Doctor of Audiology Program. He also worked as course facilitator for the University of Florida's Distance Learning Doctor of Audiology Program. "Once a week from home, I had chat room discussions with students on my computer to guide them through their studies," he said. At Elmira College, he currently teaches an introductory class in audiology and courses in aural rehabilitation and noise pollution.

The field of audiology has undergone significant growth as an area of independent clinical practice, Johnson explained, noting that the profession has moved to a doctoral discipline of study within the last 15 years. According to Johnson, approximately 30 million Americans have some degree of hearing difficulty. "The discipline has made significant advances due to the surgical implantation of hearing devices such as cochlear implants and stem cell development," said Johnson. "My work has always been very exciting."

Although he stumbled onto teaching in higher education, he instantly "fell in love" with it. "It has a multiplying effect," said Johnson. "There is tremendous satisfaction in teaching future clinicians who are going to reach out and teach or treat hundreds of others. I have a great group of highly motivated and focused students. I can honestly say that I can't wait to get to work each morning."

Looking back, Johnson credits Mercer as the stepping stone that elevated his aspirations. "It provided an atmosphere that encouraged me to determine my direction. That's where I got my start."

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