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Celebrating 45 Years of American Audiology Society Excellence: Memoirs of a Founder

Roeser, Ross, J.

doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000545
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Lois and Howard Wolf, Professor in Pediatric Audiology, University of Texas at Dallas, Callier Center for Communication Disorders, School of Behavioural and Brain Sciences, Dallas, TX

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and text of this article on the journal’s Web site (www.ear-hearing.com).

Address for correspondence: Ross J. Roeser, At-Large, USA. E-mail: roeser@utdallas.edu

Editor’s Note: As a member of AAS for more than 30 years, and having lived through much of its activities and development, and in view of the 45th anniversary of the American Auditory Society (2017), I thought it fitting to document the origins and early history of the Society. This, along with the many informal conversations I have had with Ross Roeser, one of the founders of AAS and a key player in the early and mid years of the Society, made him the perfect person to write such a document (Fig. 1). I asked him to recall his memories of how AAS began, the successes and struggles of the early years, and how the foundation was laid for what the AAS is today. Along with these memories, Dr. Roeser has provided digital copies of the early executive committee and editorial board minutes of the Society, as well as all of the issues of the early AAS newsletter, Corti’s Organ. I hope readers will enjoy this brief history and find the time to peruse the supplemental materials that accompany it.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Readers might think there was a typographical error when they read the title of this article. Indeed, in 1972, AAS was launched as the American Audiology Society. However, soon after, in 1975, the name was changed to the American Auditory Society through a membership vote and By-Laws revision—read on. Throughout the text, I will use AAS to represent both the “audiology” and “auditory” components of the name. This short historical summary was prepared mainly to preserve archival materials and to highlight and record the significant events and activities that formed AAS from my perspective as the elected Secretary/Treasurer and Editor for several of the AAS publications during the formative years, from 1972 to 1994. In putting it together, I was lucky to have I retained copies of most of the archival information, and I feel that the data are quite accurate (I was there). For those looking for more detailed historical information for this era, copies of all available annual and ad hoc executive committee meetings, editorial board meetings, and ad hoc meetings are provided in Appendix 1 (Supplemental Digital content 1, http://links.lww.com/EANDH/A403). In addition, all available copies of Corti’s Organ (yes, that was the name of the AAS newsletter for many years—read on) are provided in Appendix 2 (Supplemental Digital Content 2, http://links.lww.com/EANDH/A404, Corti’s Organ). However, from the early 1990s to the present, I relied on multiple sources and resources to fill in as much as I could and as accurately as I could.

Table 1 is a chronology of the AAS milestones that occurred during the first 22 years and shows when the office was moved from Dallas to Scottsdale; it also shows the transitions of the Editor-in-Chiefs for Ear & Hearing. As pointed out in the carefully scripted mission statement crafted during the formative years, AAS leaders wanted the Society to become recognized as a vital apolitical organization with membership across the professions having:

TABLE 1

TABLE 1

The primary aim of increasing knowledge and understanding of the ear, hearing and balance; disorders of the ear, hearing and balance; and preventions of these disorders and habilitation and rehabilitation of individuals with hearing and balance dysfunction. To attain these goals, the Society coordinates and disseminates information, particularly through the holding of regular meetings, and through publication of professional, scientific, educational, and informational media. Because of the multi-disciplinary nature of the Society’s membership (audiology, otolaryngology, dispensing, engineering, psychoacoustics, etc.), the Society provides a formal platform for the interchange of information from allied professional fields.”

This mission statement is as valid today as it was when it was penned more than 40 to 45 years ago.

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THE BEGINNINGS AND THE OFFICIAL ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

That Aram Glorig (Fig. 2) is the founder of the American Audiology Society is not in question. He was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1906, and soon after his family moved to the United States. He completed his Medical Degree at Loma Linda University Medical School, and while completing a pediatrics residency in New York, he noted the high prevalence of ear disease and the effects of hearing loss on young children. Based on this, he changed his focus to otology. After completing his Ear Nose Throat residency at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, Aram joined the U.S. Army. While stationed in London, United Kingdom, during World War II, his interest in hearing loss increased as he observed the large number of service men with hearing loss due to artillery exposure. Upon returning to the United States, the U.S. Surgeon General asked Dr. Glorig to develop a center at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC, to serve returning military personnel from World War II. The center proved so successful that other Veterans Administration Centers were established following the model Aram established. He ended his career at Walter Reed in 1952 and joined the Subcommittee on Noise Research Center for the Conservation of Hearing Committee of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology. He moved to Dallas, TX, in 1964 to become the first Director of the Callier Hearing and Speech Center, which is now the University of Texas at Dallas, Callier Center for Communication Disorders.

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Aram was a proactive organizer who was passionate about hearing, hearing loss, and hearing loss prevention. He was one of the founders of the International Society of Audiology and the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. In the early 1970s, Aram began stumping for a U.S.-based multidisciplinary organization that would focus on audiology in an effort to bring all of the disciplines involved in hearing and hearing science together. Jim Jerger recalls that Aram flew to Houston in 1971 or 1972 to discuss the possibility of launching an audiology society with several key individuals. This was most likely the first informal effort Aram made to establish such a group.

I became part of the process in 1972 when Dr. Glorig invited me to attend the first formal AAS organizational meeting. I had been in Dallas from August 1971 to June 1972 collecting dissertation data, had just finished my doctoral program at Florida State University, and had taken the position of the Head of Audiology at the Callier Center. Dr. Glorig was my boss. The meeting was held on the afternoon of Friday, September 22, 1972, during the Annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology in Dallas. There were 20 participants in attendance at the first organizational meeting of the AAS.

Dr. Glorig called the meeting to order and stated that the movement to form an American Audiology Society was needed as an “antidote to the splintering that is going on in the field.” He further stated that American Speech (Language) Hearing Association (ASHA) could not supply this type of organization. Before the meeting, a survey was sent to the approximate 1000 U.S. audiologists to determine the interest in forming such an organization, and of 337 replies, 289 were in favor. During the ensuing discussion, each member of the organizing group then provided input. Based on a vote of the members, which parenthetically was not all favorable to the idea of a new organization, a working committee was formed with the following members: Chuck Berlin, Marion Downs (Secretary), Allan Goodman, Ralph Naunton, and Ross Roeser. Dues were set at $10.00 per year.

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THE FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING

Dallas, TX, was the site for the first official AAS meeting that was held at the Callier Center a year later on Friday, September 16, 1973. Dr. Glorig presided and was unanimously elected as the first President (See Table 2). An executive committee was formed, and I was elected as the Secretary-Treasurer, a position, I did not realize at the time, that made me responsible for just about everything needed to get AAS afloat and to manage keeping all systems fully functioning. During the meeting, as the newly elected Secretary-Treasurer, I reported a treasury balance of $1223.08. Open discussion resulted in two very important decisions that set the stage for AAS in the years to come: to explore the possibility of a new journal with Williams & Wilkins (W&W) as a publisher, and to hold an annual meeting that would rotate between existing professional societies; the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology and the American Speech and Hearing Association were named specifically, but later the Acoustical Society of America was included. Based on this, starting in 1974 and through 1994, annual meetings were held in conjunction with these and other organizations. Table 3 lists meeting locations, associated meetings, presidents, Carhart Memorial speakers, and available membership numbers from 1972 to 1994.

TABLE 2

TABLE 2

TABLE 3

TABLE 3

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PUBLICATIONS

Newsletters

The Bulletin of the American Audiology Society was the first AAS newsletter, a bi-fold; Bob Briskey was the editor and it only had 2 to 3 issues. Unfortunately, no copies survived the 40+ years since it was first published. The Bulletin was followed by Corti’s Organ, which was subtitled “The Official House Organ of the American Audiology Society.” Marion Downs (Fig. 3) was the first editor, and I was the Associate Editor. It was a tri-fold, half-page, newspaper that was sent periodically 2 to 4 times per year to all AAS members. Volume 1, No. 1, was sent on January 1976 (See Fig. 4), and the last issue was Fall 1989, Volume 12, No. 2 (see all volumes of Corti’s organ in Appendix 2, Supplementary Digital content 2, http://links.lww.com/EANDH/A404). AAS members, at the time, never knew that the name Corti’s Organ was conceived in a Las Vegas elevator when Marion and I had a chance encounter during the annual AAS meeting. We were pondering the question of what to call the new newsletter and Marion said “The name has to be associated with the ear, something that has a catchy name that people will remember.” I responded, “Well, Ear Drum, or Ossicular Chain doesn’t seem to do it. How about something risqué like the Organ of Corti.” Marion jumped in “That’s it! The name Corti’s Organ should grab everyone, so they’ll never forget it.” I am sure the other elevator occupants thought us somewhat eccentric or maybe just loose from a local hospital. The purpose of the newsletter was to keep members informed of Society events, and the annual program and membership directory were included.

Fig. 3

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Fig. 4

Marion and I wanted to keep the AAS membership informed about Society activities through the newsletter, but we also wanted to provoke curiosity and interest in audiology topics and have some fun as well. We occasionally had items such as “name that famous audiologist” by having photos of notable audiologists at a young age, and providing the answer on a back page, or “name that lesion” by having symptoms of an auditory disorder and providing the answer on a back page. I also wrote a history of Alfonso Giacomo Gaspare Corti (1822 to 1876), who was a fascinating Italian anatomist who provided the initial insights of the sensory organ of hearing. One of my most memorable events surrounding Corti’s Organ was from 1976 when AAS sponsored a trip to the International Society of Audiology in Florence, Italy, and one member (Roger Angelelli) sent photos, with some from the local venue. I placed one of his full-size photos of the nude statue of Michelangelo’s David on the front page of Corti’s Organ, but when Marion received the page proofs, she made an urgent call to me saying that it would be irreverent to have a naked man on the front page of a newsletter with the name of “Corti’s Organ.” For some reason, I never associated a naked man with the name of the AAS newsletter. Readers might want to peruse archival issues of “The Organ” in Appendix 2 (see Supplemental Digital content 2, http://links.lww.com/EANDH/A404) for some additional insights on how Marion and I tried to help make Corti’s Organ attain our goal of delivering a publication that AAS members might remember.

In 1995, Wayne Staab (Fig. 5) initiated the Bulletin of the American Auditory Society, and he was the editor. The Bulletin had a 14-year history, the last issue being published in 2009. The Bulletin carried on the longstanding history of keeping AAS members up to date on Society activities.

Fig. 5

Fig. 5

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JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN AUDIOLOGY/AUDITORY SOCIETY AND EAR & HEARING

After the 1973 Dallas meeting, a steering committee was formed to explore the possibility of publishing the scientific journal with W&W. The publisher had been approached by Jerry Northern about such a venture before AAS was formed, and W&W already had an interest in publishing a journal in audiology. After several meetings, the result was that the publisher agreed to contract for the Journal of the American Audiology Society (JAAS) with J. Donald Harris as the Editor-in-Chief and Jerry Northern as the Associate Editor. Volume 1, No. 1, was published in 1975 and sent to all AAS members. Before his appointment as Editor-in-Chief of JAAS, Dr. Harris had been the Chief Editor of the Journal of Auditory Research, a publication he started and literally ran out of his home basement/garage. The assumption was that once he became the Chief Editor of JAAS, he would discontinue the Journal of Auditory Research. However, that was not the case, and unfortunately, JAAS issues suffered due to few submissions; the page allotment was not being filled, and revenues were in the red. The senior administration at W&W was alarmed by the lack of growth and revenue and threatened to discontinue the journal. At a meeting held in Baltimore, MD, at the W&W corporate headquarters in the spring of 1979, an agreement was made that a new Editor-in-Chief would be appointed, and the journal would require a total makeover if W&W was going to continue with their contractual agreement. AAS president Sam Lybarger and I assured the W&W management team that, without hesitation, the AAS Executive Committee would “get right on it.” For the next several weeks or more, sleep was difficult.

Finding a qualified Chief Editor for the new AAS publication as well as carrying out the work of getting the new journal off the ground were huge challenges. Over the ensuing weeks, after polling the executive committee members, every senior audiologist/hearing scientist identified was contacted to see if there was interest in the editorship, unfortunately without success. I was in Denver with Marion Downs in her kitchen on a Saturday morning in 1979 and we had called about a half-dozen individuals in an attempt to recruit one for the journal editorship. As we hung up with the last candidate, Marion looked at me and said, “Well Ross, I guess you’ll just have to do it.” To which I said, “You gotta be kidding!” With her very persuasive personality and commitment to be available as a resource, I very, very reluctantly accepted the nomination, which was approved by the Executive Board several weeks later. Following this, there were many, many more sleepless nights. The name Ear & Hearing also came about on that Saturday morning kitchen experience when Marion suggested that the new journal be called “Ear,” to which I replied that audiologists are concerned with hearing, and with most of the members being audiologists the word “hearing” had to be in the journal name. I said, “Just like the journal Brain and Language, the name should be Ear & Hearing.” Eureka! That is the story how the name Ear & Hearing came to be as it is today.

Because there was no backlog of papers and no structure for the editorial board, a call for papers was sent to any and all of those who might want to publish in the new journal, and editorial board members were recruited with nine volunteer members. Each of the editors represented a topic area and was given the title Section Editor. Volume 1, No. 1, of Ear & Hearing was published in January 1980, with seven papers, and the rest is history. I held the Chief Editor post through 1984, and Bob Keith was my successor. In 1993, the post was turned the post over to Susan Jerger who held the post until 2000. Mario Svirsky then became the Chief Editor until 2007 when Brenda Ryals assumed the position, and as we know, she continues in that position to this day (Figs, 6A-D). Even though there are questions about the suitability of the measure, the current gold standard to assess the impact of a journal is its “impact factor,” as calculated by Journal Citation Reports. Ear & Hearing was ranked no. 2 in the otorhinolaryngology category in 1997, and it ranked no. 1, no. 2, or no. 3 nine times between 2004 and 2016; it has consistently been ranked in the top 10 journals in that category for more than 20 years. This accomplishment is even more impressive when we consider that some of the journals that beat Ear & Hearing in a given year may have had titles such as “Rhinology” or “Dysphagia”.

Fig. 6

Fig. 6

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Membership

From the very beginning, a working AAS principle was the society would be nonpolitical, and open to a wide range of those involved in some aspect of hearing/hearing loss. This provided an opportunity to all those who had an interest in hearing, a venue to meet and exchange information. There was a requirement that members have a university (bachelor’s) degree, the area not being specified, and have sponsorship from two active AAS members. Membership grew slowly at first (unfortunately records are not available for the early years), but as shown in Table 3, as the Society became more widely known, it grew to over 2000 members in 1987 and reached a highpoint of over 2800 members in 1991. A significant positive factor affecting membership was that AAS was the only multidisciplinary organization that focused only on audiology/hearing science, with regular annual meetings and a journal with a growing reputation for scholarly publication. The formation of the American Academy of Audiology in 1988 with its own annual meetings and a scientific journal resulted in a sizeable decline in AAS membership after the high point in 1992. When the AAS office was transferred from Dallas to Scottsdale, membership was on the decline dropping to under 2000 by 1999. Membership continued to drop during the ensuring years, but has remained stable at about 1100 since 2010.

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The Name Change

About the time that AAS was formed, there was a contentious battle for the use of the words audiology and audiologist, mainly between professional organizations representing nonaudiologist hearing aid dispensers and audiologists holding the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence. In the early 1970s, the profession of audiology was struggling for identity. Very few states had audiology licensure, and anyone could represent themselves as being an audiologist without penalty. The use of the word audiology/audiologist was up for grabs. Trademark litigation between ASHA and the National Hearing Aid Society resulted in a successful outcome for ASHA, which restricted individuals from referring to themselves as audiologists without holding the minimum educational and clinical background (the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence). Being a member of the American Audiology Society, with the AAS membership certificate hanging on an office wall, for those without the necessary minimum requirements put AAS in jeopardy of possible litigation. Before it reached such a state, through a vote of the AAS membership and a by-laws change, the name was changed in 1975 and “Audiology” officially became “Auditory.”

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Meetings

The annual meetings were grand affairs, with a scientific program having luminary audiologists, otologists, hearing scientists, psychologists, and others who had made significant contributions to the field presenting a wealth of their knowledge. A full day of science and translational research was followed by an evening social event that included great conversation, entertainment, and dancing. The meetings were held at spectacular venues, such as the Space Needle in Seattle, dinner boat rides in several cities, the Boston Aquarium, Arnaud’s restaurant in New Orleans, etc. The social portion of the event proved to be as valuable as the scientific program because of the networking that occurred and the bonds that were formed between the various individuals representing the broad array of disciplines involved in hearing and hearing disorders.

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Transitioning

For a new perspective and new ideas and directions, and with expanding professional and personal responsibilities as well as increasing family commitments, in early 1992, I felt it was time for new blood. I tendered my resignation from the AAS Secretary/Treasurer post at the annual board meeting. When asked by the AAS executive committee, Wayne Staab graciously accepted the offer to take over as the new Secretary/Treasurer, which officially went into effect in 1994. Wayne held the position for 19 years (as Secretary/Treasurer and then Executive Director). He retired from that position in 2013 when Enchancia Management, LLC, assumed the operational oversight of the Society.

Changes have been made from the “old days,” and Dr. Staab and the ensuing executive board members have transitioned the Society to a new format with annual meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona (one of the best choices in the United States for a spring venue), that attract the world’s best scientist/clinicians. Ear & Hearing is ranked among the top audiology/hearing journals in the world. The National Institutes of Health has supported the AAS annual meeting for the past several years to promote and sponsor innovative research from both AuD and PhD students, who are our future scientist/clinicians and who have an important and defined role in the Society. I am sure that Aram Glorig would be smiling broadly if he was here today.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The author thanks Wayne Staab for providing much needed AAS historical information. Electronic conversion of the hard copies of Corti’s Organ and the AAS minutes was carried out by Grace Holderman, and the author thanks her for her excellent technical skills. Most important, I would like to extend special thanks to Branda Ryals for inviting me to write this article, and for her help in obtaining post 1995 archival information.

Supplemental Digital Content

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