Drs. Anna B. Cohen and Susan V. Rezen Scholarship

Drs. Anna B. Cohen and Susan V. Rezen Scholarship

The University’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders was guided through its formative years by three remarkable professors: Dr. Anna B. Cohen, who joined the faculty in 1973, Dr. Maryann H. Power, who joined in 1979, and Dr. Susan V. Rezen, whose appointment followed in 1980. All three women used their vision, intellect, and commitment to help shape the academic program that would prepare hundreds of students for meaningful and satisfying careers.

With funding from a Massachusetts State Dept. of Education grant, Dr. Cohen co-founded the Collaborative Preschool Language Program which was a joint venture between the University and several local school districts. The program was housed on campus for many years before moving into the Wachusett Regional School District. The program became a model for preschool language programs throughout the state. It provided services to many children with communication disorders and served as a clinical experience for numerous CD students. Additionally, Dr. Cohen received a substantial three year grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education. The purpose of the grant was to train speech-language pathology students in the diagnosis and treatment of the communication problems experienced by children and adolescents with autism. Dr. Cohen also created a flexible master’s degree program to help students realize their dreams of becoming speech-language pathologists.

As Dr. Cohen developed the speech-language pathology program, Dr. Rezen developed the hearing aspect so that students could go on for graduate degrees in audiology. Both were department chairpersons as well as graduate coordinators for many years.

Following Dr. Cohen’s retirement from Worcester State University in 1999, the Mass. Speech, Language and Hearing Association awarded her a second Distinguished Service Award and the WSC Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders created a scholarship fund to perpetuate her legacy. In 2007, Dr. Rezen who will retire in 2008 contributed the remaining monies needed to fully endow the fund.

Dr. Rezen, a professor of audiology, has earned a reputation as an exceptional teacher whose commitment to her students reaches far beyond the classroom. Her commitment was most visibly demonstrated in 2004, when she became the first sitting faculty member to create an endowed scholarship at the University. The Victor and Angelia Rezen Memorial Scholarship Fund, named in honor of Dr. Rezen’s parents, is also the University’s first graduate-level scholarship and the first established specifically for students in the Speech-Language Pathology program.

In addition to funding scholarships, Dr. Rezen’s philanthropy has been far-reaching. She has quietly assisted many individual students over the years and has supported a number of campus environmental initiatives. To provide hearing tests and hearing aid assistance to the needy, she established a hearing clinic at Wesley United Methodist Church as part of the Worcester Evening Free Medical Program. She conducts hearing screenings in public schools, partly as training for WSC students and partly as a service to the community. She also runs the WSC Audiology Clinic, which provides free evaluations to the community. And she has served as a volunteer consultant and lecturer in various parts of the world including South Africa, England, China, Peru, and Singapore.

Dr. Rezen says her philanthropy stems partly from altruism and partly from the fact that giving “makes me feel really good. When I know I’ve made a difference in students’ lives, that’s more precious than anything,” she said.

Dr. Rezen’s generous spirit is perhaps best captured in a quotation from George Eliot, which she keeps posted on a bulletin board in her office: “What do we live for if it’s not to make life less difficult for each other?”