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New Faculty Spotlight: Mary Jo Cooley Hidecker, Ph.D., CCC-A/SLP

Dr. Mary Jo Cooley Hidecker joins the CHS faculty as an associate professor in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program. Dr. Hidecker received her Ph.D. in Audiology and Speech Sciences from Michigan State University, Lansing. She was both a NIH F31 predoctoral fellow and NIH F32 postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Hidecker’s postdoctoral fellowship was in communication disorders epidemiology, which ultimately led her to obtain a master’s degree in epidemiology. Dr. Hidecker is excited to be a part of CHS; she answers some questions below about her experiences so far and what she is looking forward to in the future.

Q: How did your career lead you to CHS?

A: I was working at the University of Wyoming when I saw the UK position advertised. As I learned more about the position, I could see the great opportunities to expand my research and teaching. I am especially thrilled to add teaching PhD students in addition to master’s students and undergraduates.

Q: How has your experience in CHS been so far?

A: I find CHS faculty, staff, and students to be welcoming in spite of the COVID safeguards and limitations on in-person meetings. I look forward to getting to know everyone better.

Q: Tell me a bit about how you became interested in the field of CSD?

A: In high school, my plan was to be an English teacher, but I wanted a career where I could work with individuals and small groups. My guidance counselor suggested I job shadow a speech-language pathologist which changed my academic and career path. In my undergraduate study, I also fell in love with audiology and helping people with hearing loss. I then pursued graduate work in both audiology and speech-language pathology.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of teaching for you?

A: I love watching students’ faces light up when they master important knowledge and skills. As a dually certified speech-language pathologist and audiologist, I love to talk with students about the wide range of career opportunities and settings that their CSD degrees open for them.

Q: Anything else you would like to add about yourself?

A: I am a first-generation college student – having grown up on a small farm in Iowa. I am excited to encourage and support all my students, including first generation students from rural Kentucky. 

Dr. Hidecker has many research interests that she will be carrying out here at CHS. She serves as the Director of the All About Communication (AAC) lab where she works to improve family-centered evidence-based practice for those with severe disabilities. Dr. Hidecker also leads the Communication Function Classification System (CFCS) work,, and is part of the research team developing the Autism Classification System of Functioning: Social Communication (ACSF:SC),

We are excited to see the amazing work and contributions that Dr. Hidecker brings to CHS!