Hobart and William Smith Colleges - Language, Diversity and Spirituality on Pulteney Street Podcast
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Language, Diversity and Spirituality on Pulteney Street Podcast

Episode 9: Kay Payne ’73

Kay Payne ’73, professor emerita at Howard University’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, is the latest guest on the Pulteney Street Podcast with President Joyce P. Jacobsen. During their conversation, Payne and Jacobsen discuss HWS during the Civil Rights and Vietnam era, Payne’s achievements in applied sociolinguistics and the experiences that led her recently to study divinity and become a lay minister.

Payne is internationally renowned for her unique specializations in sociolinguistics and cultural anthropology, with expertise on communication disorders including diagnosis, treatment and bilingual issues. An authority on test-taking skills and cultural diversity, she has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship twice to conduct research in Egypt and India, exchange fellowships in Brazil and China, a Ford Foundation Research Fellowship in Namibia, and a travel fellowship in Russia and Ukraine.

Payne’s desire to uncover truth has led to many groundbreaking innovations, including the creation of the first software program to improve the scores of minority students on the PRAXIS examinations, which evaluates individuals for entry into teacher education programs. She is the author of three best-selling books and two CD ROMs related to PRAXIS and has also developed two distance-learning courses for PRAXIS delivered via the Blackboard course management system. Many users of these materials attribute their passing scores to Payne.

Payne began teaching at Howard in 1977 as a graduate assistant, specializing in sociolinguistics and cultural diversity. In 1993, she was named a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and more recently received the prestigious Scholar-Mentor Award from the National Black Association for Speech, Language, and Hearing. The award is given to an outstanding professional who has been involved in the mentoring of black students in speech-language pathology, audiology and/or speech-hearing sciences through research, clinical, administrative and/or academic activities. In 2016, ASHA honored Payne, whose contributions and impact have been of such great magnitude as to alter the course of the profession.

During the Colleges’ first Multicultural Career and Networking Conference in 2016, at which she served as keynote speaker, Payne was presented with the Alumna Achievement Award, the William Smith Alumnae Association’s highest honor.

Payne earned her bachelor’s in psychology from William Smith and her Ph.D. from Howard University in Communication Sciences with cognate areas in sociolinguistics and special education. She recently earned her master’s degree from Howard’s School of Divinity.

Read more about Payne’s Life of Consequence.