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University of Iowa News

Sept. 8, 2005

Public Invited To Memorial For James Curtis, UI Professor Emeritus

A memorial service for James F. Curtis, Ph.D., professor emeritus and former chair of speech pathology and audiology in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, in the auditorium of the UI Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center. The public event will be followed by a reception in the center's lobby.

Curtis, who died at age 91 on July 16 in Missoula, Mont., was a leading professor and researcher in communications sciences and disorders. When the UI Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology was formed in 1965, he became its first chair. He served for 12 years and retired in 1979.

"Under Dr. Curtis' leadership, the UI Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology earned widespread recognition for excellence in teaching and research," said Richard Hurtig, Ph.D., UI professor of speech pathology and audiology.

Curtis played a major role in consolidating departmental and clinical endeavors, and in planning for the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center. Yet his impact had an effect well beyond Iowa, Hurtig noted.

"Professor Curtis may be best known for his love of teaching and his dedication to helping students do research. He played a major role in the training of a generation of speech scientists who have gone on to be the leaders in the field," he said.

Curtis was born on a farm near Charles City, Iowa. He received a bachelor's degree from Iowa State Teachers College (now University of Northern Iowa) in 1935 and a doctorate in speech pathology and audiology from the UI in 1942.

In addition to providing leadership to the UI, Curtis served as president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). He also was an advocate for National Institutes of Health funding of research and doctoral training in communication sciences and disorders.

His many honors include recognition from ASHA and the International Phonetics Society, fellowship in the Acoustical Society of America and distinguished alumnus awards from the UI and UNI.

Following his retirement, Curtis made generous contributions to a fund in his name at the UI Foundation to support student research in his field of expertise. Memorial donations in his honor may be made to the James F. Curtis Fund. For more information, contact the UI Foundation at 319-335-3305.

"Dr. Curtis set the standard for how to be a serious scientist and a fine teacher," Hurtig said. "He will be missed, yet his influence on future generations will last."

Individual wishing to attend the event or those needing more information are encouraged to contact the department at 335-8719.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACTS: Media: Becky Soglin, 319-335-6660,; Program: Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology (Main Office), 319-335-8719,

PHOTO: An electronic image of James Curtis is available. Send your e-mail request to