Shapiro Scholarship will benefit WCU students specializing in fluency disorders

by Mar 20, 2014COMMUNITY sgadugi0 comments




CULLOWHEE – A new scholarship at Western Carolina University will provide financial assistance to outstanding graduate students who want to specialize in helping children and adults overcome disorders of speech fluency such as stuttering, cluttering and acquired forms of speech disruption.

The David A. and Kay Slattery Shapiro Scholarship for Specialists in Fluency Disorders is named for WCU faculty member David Shapiro, who has achieved international renown after decades of work in the field, and his wife. Students working toward a graduate degree in communication sciences and disorders who demonstrate exceptional promise and passion will be eligible to receive scholarships when the $10,000 endowment level is reached.

David A. Shapiro, Western Carolina University’s Robert Lee Madison Distinguished Professor of communication sciences and disorders, talks with students.  (WCU photo)

David A. Shapiro, Western Carolina University’s Robert Lee Madison Distinguished Professor of communication sciences and disorders, talks with students. (WCU photo)

In helping initiate the scholarship fund, Shapiro said he is deeply grateful for his relationship with WCU and sees the scholarship as a way to perpetuate opportunities for students preparing for professional careers in a field where, despite the worldwide prevalence of fluency disorders, specialists are few.

WCU’s Robert Lee Madison Distinguished Professor, Shapiro has a personal story that inspired his life’s work. As a person who stuttered without control for nearly 20 years, he was determined to find a way to talk, and when he did, devoted himself to helping others overcome difficulties with speaking. After nearly 40 years of teaching, research and service, his career has never felt like work, he insists. “It’s a joy,” he said.

“It is the birthright of every person to be able to use speech and language freely and to enjoy communication freedom. It is hard to imagine what it means to be unable to talk to another person on the planet,” said Shapiro.

A prolific researcher with more than 300 professional publications and presentations to his credit, Shapiro is the author of “Stuttering Intervention: A Collaborative Journey to Fluency Freedom,” a book published in 2011 by PRO-ED Inc. that is now in its second edition. Communication sciences and disorders programs at colleges and universities around the world have adopted the textbook. It incorporates international perspectives in its examination of assessment and treatment of people who stutter and provides a clinical method with real-world examples to enable people of all ages to achieve communication freedom.

A member of the WCU faculty for 30 years, Shapiro’s impact extends to six continents where he has taught workshops, provided direct clinical service and conducted research. A Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and board-certified specialist in fluency disorders, he was elected president of the International Fluency Association in 2012 during the Seventh World Congress on Fluency Disorders. The organization is composed of researchers, speech scientists and speech-language pathologists from six continents.

Shapiro’s work in both developed and developing nations has helped raise public awareness of stuttering, combat negative stereotypes that exist and give a message of hope and support to those who need it. His leadership in international professional organizations and his association with some of the world’s top fluency disorder specialists have given his students opportunities to learn about the disorders from a global perspective, and graduates of the program have gone on to have outstanding careers, said Bill Ogletree, head of the WCU Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

“We are so fortunate to have a scholar like David, and he frankly has attracted his share of students with interests in fluency disorders,” said Ogletree. “This scholarship fund will enable these and other students to receive financial support as they study with David and others.”  

When the scholarship is endowed, contributions will be permanently invested to guarantee there will always be financial help for students. Awards will be made from the dividends and interest the endowment earns. Contributions are ongoing to help the fund’s endowment grow.

For more information or to make a donation to the David A. and Kay Slattery Shapiro Scholarship for Specialists in Fluency Disorders, contact the WCU Office of Development (828) 227-7124 or by email: To make an online gift, go to:

More information about WCU’s programs in communication sciences and disorders is available online at