Ken Simpson, PhD, CCC-SLP, has been serving as the program director of the Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology (SLPD) program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) for the past eight years. At the end of the summer semester in August 2021, he will be retiring from his position at RMUoHP, leaving a lasting impact on the program, its graduates, and the University.
Simpson has spent the past 42 years working in healthcare and health education. Following his certification as a speech-language pathologist (SLP), Simpson began his career working in secondary schools. After working in that capacity for 12 years and earning his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the University of Nebraska, Simpson entered academia as his career emphasis.
Beginning in 2013, Simpson contributed to RMUoHP as an adjunct faculty member. His dedication, experience, and reputation led to being appointed program director of a unique clinical doctorate program he developed for speech-language pathology practitioners. It was the first program of its kind in the country.
“Dr. Simpson will forever be known as the founding director of the SLPD program at RMUoHP,” said Malissa Martin, EdD, ATC, Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Vice Provost of Post-Professional Programs. “His willingness to facilitate change and provide the leadership needed for its execution provided the program and the University with the opportunity to become the largest and most sought out SLPD program in the United States.”
RMUoHP Rehabilitative Sciences College Dean Jeff Lau, PT, DPT, PhD, CMPT, described Simpson’s involvement within the program as indispensable. “During his time here, Simpson has tripled enrollment, attracted top faculty, and refined the program to become one of the premier SLPD programs in the country. RMUoHP’s SLPD program attracts more first-year students than all other similar programs combined,” said Lau.
Not only has Simpson made considerable contributions to the creation and significance of the SLPD program, but he has left an impactful impression on those he taught and with whom he worked. “Dr. Simpson is respected and admired for his creative capacity, his mentorship, and his leadership. His role as a program director, the administration, and service he provided on many university committees, and his professional contributions as a scholar, grant reviewer, and consulting editor are exemplary,” said Mark Horacek, PT, MS, PhD, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost.
After so many years of dedicated work and impactful service, the University and the professional community will miss Dr. Simpson. “His impact on students and faculty will be forever lasting,” said Dr. Martin. “He served as a mentor for faculty, students, and professional colleagues, and many of our SLPD graduates have returned to be adjunct faculty and capstone mentors. Having been mentored by Dr. Simpson and bringing her own set of outstanding qualifications, Dr. Sandy Shigetomi-Toyama will lead the program to additional heights as the new program director.”
Sandra Shigetomi-Toyama, ClinScD, CCC-SLP, an alumna of RMUoHP’s clinical science doctorate program for speech-language pathologists, was announced as the new program director following Dr. Simpson’s retirement. When reflecting on her time as a student and the efforts of Dr. Simpson, she said, “He leads the program with integrity and respect for students, administrators, and faculty. He truly wants every student in the program to succeed. To that end, he spends countless hours creating supporting documents and templates, meets with students cheerfully, and mentors those in his circle of influence.”
Looking to the future, Dr. Shigetomi-Toyama said, “I greatly want to see the program continue to grow and expand and carry on the vision of Dr. Simpson. His impact on both colleagues and students is undeniable, and we will all miss his presence and influence.”
For more information on the SLPD program that Dr. Simpson helped establish, visit https://rm.edu/slpd.