The late Dr. Robert L. Erickson valued hard work, honesty, intellect and family. For more than three decades, he was on the front lines of transforming students into exceptional practitioners of speech-language pathology.
Erickson earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Omaha, a master's degree in speech pathology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and a doctoral degree from the University of Iowa. Before retiring from Western Michigan University in 1997, he served as a professor of speech pathology and audiology there, and, for many years, as chair of the department. He was a strong community leader and received numerous service awards.
As an educator, Erickson was more than a teacher. He was a friend of and mentor to students, providing them with a foundation of excellence in speech-language pathology.
Speaking on behalf of the family, his son Doug says, "Our father was passionate about diagnosing and treating voice disorders and being an outstanding clinician. He emphasized that a professor's role was not to train students, but to educate them and teach them to think and analyze, which allows them to become exceptional clinicians."
Erickson's visionary approach to his vocation led to the creation of the Voice and Respiration Clinical Laboratory at WMU's Unified Clinics, and he was also instrumental in establishing and securing funds for the graduate program in speech pathology at WMU.
In 2008, his family and friends established the Robert L. Erickson Award for Excellence in the Study of Speech Sciences to memorialize him and provide resources for students to attend professional conferences and lectures. His family hopes the scholarship inspires and motivates students by facilitating their interaction with experienced clinicians and experts. This will enhance their education by helping them attend conferences where they can share ideas and hear directly from leaders in the field.
The family continues to raise money for the scholarship because they want to extend awards to as many graduate students as possible.