Dr. Harvey Abrams oral history interview

Dr. Harvey Abrams oral history interview

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Dr. Harvey Abrams oral history interview
Baber, Taylor
University of South Florida -- Library -- Digital Scholarship Services - Digital Collections -- Oral History Program


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Oral history ( local )
Online audio ( local )


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interviewed by Taylor Baber.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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U46-00001 ( USFLDC DOI )
u46.1 ( USFLDC Handle )

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subfield code a U46-000012 USFLDC DOI0 245 Dr. Harvey Abrams oral history interviewh [electronic resource] /c interviewed by Taylor Baber.500 Full cataloging of this resource is underway and will replace this temporary record when complete.1 600 Abrams, Harvey650 Holocaust survivorsz Florida.Holocaust survivorsv Interviews.Genocide.Crimes against humanity.7 655 Oral history.localOnline audio.local700 Baber, Taylor710 University of South Florida Libraries.b Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center.University of South Florida.Library.Digital Scholarship Services Digital Collections.Oral History Program.730 Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects.773 t USF Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders 50th Anniversary Oral History Project4 856 u http://digital.lib.usf.edu/?u46.1

xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
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text Dr. Harvey Abrams (HA): What is your role at USF?
Taylor Baber (TB): Okay, so
HA: Are you a student?
TB: Yes. I am currently an undergraduate student. I will be graduating in May.
HA: Uh-huh.
TB: So, yes, I am excited about that. So, yes that is my role.
HA: So are you doing this through all of the departments throughout the university or just Communication Sciences and Disorders?
TB: Yeah. Just Communication Sciences and Disorders because one of my professors is actually Dr. Betancourt. Hes kind of like running this project, and volunteers basically conduct these interviews, and I think this is a really cool thing that theyre doing. So I definitely wanted to be a part of it, as a CSD student myself. So
HA: Excellent.
TB: Yes. Okay, so I guess I have some questions for you. To start, if you could just state and your name and your current position.
HA: All right, so, my name is Harvey Abrams and my current position is senior research consultant to Starkey Hearing Technologies.
TB: Oh.
HA: And I also serve as a consultant to the Better Hearing Institute, as well as a consultant to Creare Incorporated, which is an R&D company thats involved in making products, engineering-based products for the industry. And specifically now working on an app for the military to help them manage tinnitus problems.
TB: Wow.
HA: So I am involved in a number of projects. Im also an adjunct at a number of different universities, I provide online instruction at Arizona State University, University of Florida. Ive also taught at Salus University [Osborne College of Audiology], and of course the University of South Florida.
TB: Wow, that is very cool. Yeah, you have so much going on.
HA: Right, and I am officially retired. So, the only thing about retirement, you work twice as hard for half the pay.
TB: Oh, my gosh. Wow. Well, thats good. You definitely dont sound bored at all.
HA: No, not at all.
TB: Perfect. So what years were you a part of the CSD program here at USF?
HA: You know, I was trying to remember. I came to the area, the Tampa Bay area, in 1979, to the VA at Bay Pines. I believe not too long after that, I began teaching at USF. So maybe within a couple of years.
TB: Oh, great.
HA: You know, Dr. Elaine Silliman was the chair at the time, and I think she asked me to teach a hearing aid course. So, I cant recall exactly what year that is, but whenever that was, was probably in the early 1980s until I retired from the VA in 2010. I was very much involved with USF, and I still am. I mean I have taught distance learning courses; Ive taught residential courses. Im working on some research projects over at USF, so in a way Im still involved with the program.
TB: Absolutely. You were here for a long time. We definitely thank you for all of the work youve provided for us.
HA: Well, thank you. It was a mutually beneficial relationship.
TB: Right, right. So you kind of already talked about all the roles you provided here. Was there anything else that you wanted to say about your role as, you know, a professor, student, anything like that?
HA: Well, Iyes, theres a lot more to that story, a lot more than just instructor. So, I started off teaching the hearing aids course. Over time, that expanded to two hearing aid courses; one on just the technology, the other on sort of the clinical applications of selecting and fitting hearing aids. And then, eventually, to three courses; the third one being a sort of advanced sensory aids seminar, where we got into issues that related to best practices for instance, and issues in amplification in cochlear implants that still hadnt been resolved from evidence-based perspectives. So it really gave the students an opportunity to explore specific sort of unresolved issues in cochlear implants and hearing aids and assistive technology.
So I was involved with those three courses, essentially teaching year round. But more than that, and this comes with Dr. Chisolms arrivaland I had to check with her about the year, which was 1988. But, shortly after that, we became very much involved in conducting research. And that relationship ultimately led to [a] very close relationship between the Bay Pines and the [Department of] Communication Sciences & Disorders. So we had ongoing research from, like, the early 90s untiland stillthrough the 21st century.
And also, we were able to bring students over to Bay Pines in traineeship positions, both paid and unpaid. Bay Pines is one of the largest audiology programs in the country because of the VA system. And we were able to compete for funding for student traineeships, some of whichonce the AuD and PhD programs were establishedcould support the students throughout the years of their doctoral training. And at any one time, we had anywhere from nine to eleven students training with us over at Bay Pines.
So it provided an opportunity for them to get some outstanding clinical experience, and for those who were interested in research, it provided an opportunity for them to get engaged and research what was going on at Bay Pines and our department, which is quite a bit. And, eventually, several of the students had conducted their PhD dissertation or their audiology doctoral project at Bay Pines. So there was this wonderful synergy between the department and the VA which Im very, very proud of. It was really amade it a lot of fun to work every day.
TB: Oh, thats good; thats good. That connection between the two places sounds like a really good opportunity for a lot of the students and obviously faculty. So thats great.
AG: For sure. Absolutely.
TB: Why did you choose USFs communication sciences and disorders program?
AG: Well, I didnt choose it. It was the only game in town
TB: True, true.
AG: at Bay Pines. And I thinkI dont know, I cant remember the sequence of events. I dont remember whether I went over there and introduced myself or Dr. Silliman at the time reached out to me. But, you know, in the beginning, it was mostly the teaching the hearing aids course, which was great. I thought that was excellent.
But, really, things began to explode with Dr. Chisolms arrival, and we just had interest in the same areas of audiology research and then sort of our combined efforts, which really made us very, very productive, particularly in the areas of aural rehabilitation research. So I have to say, I chose (inaudible). I didnt choose USF as much as just the conditions were very ripe for a very close and productive collaboration.
TB: Right. Okay, I definitely understand. So, at the time that you were here, and this might be a tricky question, what did the facilities here and the surrounding area look like?
AG: Well, lets see. It was 1979. How old was USF in 1979? It wasnt that old, so the department was in BEH, the Behavioral Sciences building, [which] was near, as I recall, near the WUSF tower.
TB: Oh, yeah.
AG: It was opposite, right? And, you know, I just remember it being very hot. (AG laughs) You know, there were not many trees, not much shade. The building was an older building. But, as I understand it, before I came, people had memories of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders being in an old building, I think, even off campus. It wasnt even on campus.
TB: Yes, Ive heard that.
AG: Youve heard of that, right. So the building they were in was sort of considered somewhat state of the art at the time. I think the resources were fine. You know, there werent that many students in the program, andbut for the purposes of what they were doing and the applications they were servingthey were serving. I think that the resources and facilities were certainly good and adequate. So those were my memories. You know, as I said, I taughtat least then, early on, at least once a week or twice a week for at least one semester each year. I did that for several years. And I also taught, I remember I taught an undergraduate course as well onit was only one time. Sort of an introduction to hearing.
TB: Right.
AG: But most of my teaching was in the graduate program, particularly (inaudible). I did teach some aural rehabilitation as well in the late 80s, early 90s. So thats my memory of the area and, certainly, many of the buildings you see now were constructed sort of after I started. And so the complexion of the campus certainly has changed in the 35 years or more that Ive been associated with the program.
TB: Right. Well, thats good, and what was the atmosphere like when you were here?
AG: How do you mean? The educational level here?
TB: Yeah. I guess you kind of talked about it. I mean, you said there werent a lot of people in the program, but you said it waseverybody (TB and AG talking at same time; inaudible) because it was big upgrade from what the program used to be.
AG: So it was, at the time, there was a masters degree. I dont know about the undergraduate training, but the[re was] masters degree in audiology, a masters degree in speech pathology, and a degree in I think deaf studies, something like that.
TB: Okay.
AG: And there was (sic) also some outstanding researchers in speech science. Dr. Winifred Strange, for instance, was there. So, if you wanted some advanced training in the sciences, you could have gotten it. I think her appointment was init may have been in psych [sic]. I dont know if it was in communication sciences disorders or not. I dont think there was a PhDthere may have been a PhD in speech pathology. There certainly wasnt in audiology at the time.
TB: Right.
AG: So there were, you knowaudiology faculty was very small at the time I got there. I remember Dr. David Shepherd and Dr. Jerry Crittenden, but he was in the deaf studies program. There were two, I think, masters degree level clinicians at the time. There was a Connie Kuffel andoh yes, Dr. Nancy Muscato, who is still there. And I think she was the only one who was there at the time that still is there in the audiology department. So that was, I think, about it. And there may have been some other people like myself, sort of adjunct instructors from the community, a couple of that were teaching there. But, in terms of fulltime faculty, there were just very few.
TB: Right. Yeah, the program has definitely expanded since then.
AG: Exploded. Sure.
TB: Yeah. Like I said earlier, Im graduating in May, and theres definitely still professors that, you know, in this department that I have not had. I have not come into contact with just because the department has grown so much and is so big now.
AG: Are you going to grad school at USF? Are you going someplace else?
TB: Im going to go someplace else just because Im from New Jersey, so all my family still lives up there, and I want to move a little bit closer to home.
AG: Have you decided where?
TB: Well, Im in the process of applying to places right now, and New York University, NYU, is probably my top choice.
AG: What field?
TB: In speech pathology.
AG: In speech pathology, okay. Very good. Sure. Its a great place to be, to live if nothing else.
TB: Yeah, yeah. Im definitely excited. I wont hear back for a little bit, obviously, but yeah, the process is going.
AG: Well, good luck to you.
TB: Thank you. So again, you spoke about this a little bit, but who were the major community partners when you were here at USF?
AG: I reallyin terms of community partners with communication sciences, I dont have any recollections other than the VA in Tampa, of course, and the VA in Bay Pines. But there was very little interaction, I would say, between the VAs, other than to bring in some of us as instructors, adjunct instructors. Other than that, there really wasnt any. And there may have been also some involvement withwas itMarch of Dimes or, I just dont recall. Bolesta, Bolesta Center. I remember the Bolesta Center.
TB: Oh, yes.
AH: Right. And uh, that may have been it. Thats all I recall, in terms of community (AH and TB speaking at same time; inaudible).
TB: Yeah, no, thats fine.
AH: And again, because Im notI wasnt there fulltime and those are not things that necessarily that I would have
TB: Right. Yeah, the Bolesta Center is still going here, and its very popular. Students kind of compete to observe in the Bolesta Center and practice there, so yes. Do you remember who the department chair was when you were there?
AH: Yeah. That was Dr. Elaine Silliman. She was the department chair when I first got there. And then the dean of the College of Communication Sciences and Disorders was Julia Davis, Dr. Julia Davis. She was wonderful. She actually had come from the University of Minnesota, very distinguished career in research. So it was terrific having a dean in the field as well as, of course, Dr. Silliman, there.
TB: Right.  Oh, good. And how has the department changed. I dontlike since when you first started to when you left and maybe now if you know anything about now?
AH: Well, to talk about that I think we have to talk about certain major milestones, and one of which was the creation of the AuD program in the department. And then, shortly following that was the creation of its own PhD program. These are not difficult to establish, but they require not only approval in the college, but then as well the university level, and then the state level, the board of regents at the time. So there are political implications as well. And so, that was a tremendous event in the history of the department. Terrific accomplishment. And they were one of the early programs, I would say, in the country, to create the AuD program.
And I remember some of the early (inaudible). And we actually had sort of two groups of students. Once were (sic) people in the community, actually, who were actually sort of teaching for us as adjuncts. And so, they got their AuD [as] sort of post-masters AuD. And then, there were the new students coming in (inaudible) separate curriculum. And then there was(sneeze) excuse mestudents interested in the PhD could get one. But it was a PhD through an agreement, sort of a joint agreement between (inaudible) sort of psychology. So, in fact, the PhD that one would earn would be one in, I believe, experimentalno, cognitive [psychology]. That was the degree you would get. And I had several students who, in fact, did earn their PhD through that department. And then, the PhD was established. Its own PhD was established in Communication Sciences and Disorders. That was a major accomplishment, so thatsthose are two major hurdles.
Then, you have the new building, right. And that had a major impact on the program, in terms of the facilities and the resources and attracting faculty, new faculty, attracting new students, an excellent development in the history of communications. So theres been a tremendous growth in the program and the resources and the faculty and research funding. And so all thats been wonderful. And then, in 2010, (inaudible) the university brings in the Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research. And they bring in a whole new group of researchers, and (inaudible) and resources, and abilities. So just combine all that together and I think USF Communications and Sciences Disorders program is probably one of the top five in the country.
TB: Wow.
AH: Oh. Easily. And I say this, not simply as a source of pride but because they do experienceand I still lecture quite a bit around the country. I know what these programs are like. And um, its aUSF is very unique in that respect and in terms of its resources, quality of faculty, and its research productivity and the just the opportunities for students. Also, the other aspect that makes the training program (inaudible) is the large number and variety of clinical experiences of students that you get in the Tampa Bay area.
The Tampa VA and the Bay Pines VA are two of the largest and busiest VAs in the entire country, and they sit 35 miles apart. The number of patients that are seen in just those two VAs often exceed the number of patients seen in an entire state around the country. So that gives you a sense of how busy. And, in addition to that, (inaudible) Tampa General Hospital (inaudible) and other hospitals in the area, private practices, All Childrens, St. Josephs, so it just goes on and on, the American Institute of Balance. Theres people who are interested in vestibular research at [All] Childrens Hospital. So the opportunities for clinical experience, exposure for students is unparalleled. (inaudible) country that are (inaudible) semirural or small city environments, so thats also a tremendous strength of program. And, as the Tampa Bay area has grown, as USF, again, it just provides these opportunities for the students. And, you know, success breeds success, and so it also attracts (inaudible) faculty, great research scholars, more students and more research. Again, that brings more faculty and more funding, more research. So it goes.
TB: Right. Yeah, thats interesting to see how much this department has grown.
HA: Its tremendous, really tremendous.
TB: To even think about, like, USF without, like, PhD programs is kind of mind blowing. But, yeah, thats wonderful. And definitely, after hearing all this, it makes me prouder to call myself a USF student, specifically in this field.
HA: Thats right. And also under the current president, Dr. Judy Genshaft, who has been there for quite a long time. Shes made a commitment, of course, to making USF a preeminent research institution.
TB: Absolutely.
HA: So again, that is just a nice combination and coalescing of events thats kind of fed on one another. Another reason why Communication Sciences and Disorders has grown the way it has as well. And when I applied, USF was eager to bring in this global center for hearing and speech research. I mean that was quite a coup. They were based in Rochester at the time, and I imagine several other universities would love (inaudible)on the competition. And I think the university is better for it, and the certainly the department is better for it.
TB: Yes. One last thing. I mean, do you have any favorite memories or any special moments that youd like to share while you were here?
HA: There are just so many, I kind of listed them off to you.
TB: Right. You did.
HA: And certainly, the approval of the AuD program [and] the PhD program for me were highlights because the move to the new building was a highlight. I (inaudible) if you look back at the impact of kind of faculty thats come in. Dr. Chisolm, I think, was the probably the best thing to happen to that department. You know, she ultimately became chair of the department. And with that, I think [it] just continued [the] improvement of the reputation of USF and growth in the department. And then, now shes now a vice provost. Did you know that?
TB: I did not know that actually.
HA: Yeah, okay. So heres something of interest though. So youve notbeforeprior to Dr. Chisolm, the chair was Dr. Arthur Guilford. So Dr. Arthur Guilford steps down as chair to become the regional chancellor for USF at Sarasota, Manatee. I mean, its an executive position. And then Dr. Chisolm was chair for quite a number of years and then when she stepped down, it was to become vice provost for strategic planning, performance, and accountability at USF. So you have two former chairs who were promoted to executive positions within the university. And so, that says somethings about the quality of the chairs at the universityyou know, their skills and their knowledge and their abilities, to the extent that they take on high level, executive positions within the university. You know, thats something else to be proud of.
I would say, just looking at it holistically for me, the highlight was just the really unique and special relationship that we developed between Bay Pine and [the Department of] Communications Sciences and Disorders. It was really quite unique in the country. You just dont see it. [There are] a couple of key places that have similar relationships, but they are very, very few. Very rare.  And so, to the extent that Ive contributed to them, [Im] certainly very proud of it. Its probably what gives me the greatest pleasure, in terms of my memories. Also because of the careers that have developed because of that, those relationships, people who have come in as students and now hold high level positions in the government and universities. So Im proud of that as well.
TB: Absolutely, yeah. Ive learned so much about the department through this interview. Like, this is my first interview that Ive conducted. I have another one tomorrow, but I knew none of this, and I think this is super interesting. And Im glad that you had such a great experience here and that youre able to contribute to this project. I think this will be really cool to look back on for all of the alumni and current students to really learn more about the history of the department here.
HA: Is there a specific day that youre going to have a celebration, sort of a physical celebration?
TB: Right. I believe there is. It is in 2017, which is really is not that far away, so I dont know why I clarified that. But I can get you that information, and I can email it over to you. I dont know that off the top of my head. I know that we are working on these interviews and trying to get them done by the end of this semester, but, obviously, all the alumni have different availabilities, so its hard to get in touch with them. But, Im pretty there is going to be a day after the interviews are all conducted, and I guess the production team can develop a timeline and a presentation, and all of that. There will be a celebration, and I can inquire about that and then let you know.
HA: Yeah, because I doyou know, I tend to travel quite a bit. And so, I would like to get this on my calendars, so I dont schedule anything else thats going to conflict with it.
TB: Yeah, absolutely. Im actually meeting with Stephanie, the girl youve been in contact with
HA: Right.
TB: in like 30 minutes. So I will ask her and see if she knows. And if not, I will ask Dr. Betancourt, who is really spearheading this whole project. So I will send her an email and get back to you as soon as I can.
HA: I appreciate that. Anything else youd like to know?
TB: Nope. I mean, thats it. Youve definitely answered all of the questions that Ive had. Youve given so much details. Its going to be great, for sure.
HA: Okay. Excellent. Well, if you have any questions as youre reviewing the materials, youve got my phone number.
TB: Perfect.
HA: Send me an email certainly. Feel free to contact me.
TB: Yes. Awesome. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
HA: Of course. All right. Take care.
TB: Bye.


COPYR I GHT NOT I CE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Univ ersity of South Florida. Copyright, 1995 201 7 University of South Florida. All rights, reserv ed. This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the Univ ersity of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


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