February 20, 2018

VSU's Lora Backes Recognized as Leader in Speech, Language, Hearing Field

Lora Backes

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Lora Backes is the recipient of the 2018 Dr. Robert A. Hull Leadership Award presented by the Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Backes, an assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders at VSU and a clinical supervisor in VSU’s Speech and Hearing Clinic, was chosen for her leadership, service, and outstanding contribution within the field of speech, language, and hearing. She was recognized at the Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s annual convention Feb. 8-10 in Atlanta.

“I was humbled to receive the award because you have to be nominated by your peers from across the state,” she said. “I was especially honored because I knew Dr. Hull personally.”

Dr. Robert A. Hull Jr. was a member of the VSU community who died suddenly in April 2009, one day after returning from the Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s annual convention where he was awarded the Honors of the Association in recognition of his outstanding performance in clinical service, academic teaching, service to the association, and service to local, regional, and national organizations. He developed many of the courses taught at VSU in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. He was a professor, an advisor, a clinical supervisor, and more to faculty, students, and the community. The Dr. Robert A. Hull Leadership Award has been presented annually since 2010.

Backes has 35 years of experience in the field of speech-language pathology. She joined the VSU community in 1993 after working for a decade as a speech-language pathologist in the Ascension Parish School System in Gonzales, Louisiana.

“My goal each day is to make sure that I have helped someone learn something new, whether it’s the client or my students,” she said. “I try to get across to students that they need to view their work as not just a job. It’s not just a job; it is more of a calling to sincerely help others to communicate. You’re able to change lives, whether it’s a 3-year-old learning how to say his first word or an adult who has suffered a stroke and is practicing word recall.”

Backes has presented at numerous local, state, national, and international conferences, and her work has been published in multiple professional journals, magazines, and newsletters.

She is a 24-year member of the Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association and has volunteered at many of its conferences by serving on committees, moderating sessions, and more. She is a 30-year member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; a 15-year member of the Supervisory Interest Network of Georgia, formerly known as the Georgia Supervisory Network; a 10-year board member of the Lowndes Advocacy Resource Center; and an eight-year member of Southeast University Clinical Educators. She is also a member of editorial review boards for the Supervision and Administration Perspectives Journal and the Journal of Communication Disorders and Assistive Technology. She served for 10 years as a co-sponsor of VSU’s chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Backes received the Award for Continuing Education from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 2017 for her work over the past three-and-a-half decades.

“Mrs. Backes has used her expertise to improve the quality of life for so many individuals in the community and in the VSU Speech and Hearing Clinic,” said Dr. Corine Myers-Jennings, head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “She is strong and decisive yet humble and focused. She takes a task and carries it out to the end. Our program has continued to progress because of her dedicated service, foresight, performance, and character.” 

Backes holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Louisiana State University and a Master of Education in speech-language pathology from Southeastern Louisiana State University.

The Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association is a professional association of individuals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human communication disorders. It advocates for the professional interest of its members and the individuals they serve and provides a forum for the exchange of professional information and ideas.

The VSU Speech and Hearing Clinic was founded in 1962 and offers hearing evaluations, speech evaluations, and speech/language therapy to the community. Services are provided by graduate clinicians who are supervised by licensed and certified speech-language pathologists.

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