UM Audiologist Receives Prestigious prestigious Frank R. Kleffner Lifetime Clinical Career Award (Mailman FL UCEDD/LEND)

January 30, 2015

Robert C. Fifer, Ph.D., associate professor and Director of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology at the Mailman Center for Child Development, was recently honored with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation's prestigious Frank R. Kleffner Lifetime Clinical Career Award.

The award recognizes audiology specialists for their lifetime clinical achievement and for changing the profession in areas of teaching, clinical science, administration and research.

"There are a number of distinguished audiologists who've received the award before me and whom I've looked up to throughout my career," said Fifer, who was presented the award at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) convention held November 20-22 in Orlando. "Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd be in their company with receiving this award."

A Miller School veteran, Fifer has been a transformative force in the field of audiology. Among his roles and accomplishments, he served on the American Medical Association's procedure coding panels for Medicare and ASHA's Health Care Economics Committee for 19 years. He has been a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's early detection and identification task force for hearing loss among infants and played a major role in Florida legislation that requires hearing screenings for newborns.

His dedication and steadfast advocacy for newborn screening have allowed hundreds of children to receive development and audiology services.

"My biggest pleasure is to follow a child who we've cared for into adolescence or adulthood and see them blossom as part of the hearing input that we were able to provide," said Fifer, who was instrumental in starting the Miller School's Cochlear Implant Program at the Ear Institute.

When the country faced a shortage of pediatric audiologists, Fifer also pursued grant funding that allowed him to train more pediatric audiologists.

"For his entire career, Dr. Fifer has been committed to expanding access to comprehensive services for children with hearing loss, whether congenital, acquired, genetic, or part of a developmental disability," said Daniel Armstrong, Ph.D., professor and Executive Vice Chair of Pediatrics, Director of the Mailman Center for Child Development, interim Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, and Associate Chief of Staff for Holtz Children's Hospital.

"This award from the ASHA recognizes these lifetime contributions of Dr. Fifer as a clinician and advocate, contributions that have transformed lives over generations."