Excellence in Faculty Service
Dr. Lillian Stiegler
Excellence in Service
Dr. Lillian Stiegler
Professor in Communication Sciences & Disorders
When Lillian Stiegler was in high school, she discovered quickly what she wanted to do in life.
As part of her school’s service requirement, “Lilly” was charged with entertaining children between therapy sessions at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.
“I worked closely with a little boy who had cerebral palsy; he was very difficult to understand, but I saw how well the speech therapists communicated with him,” she said. “That truly impressed me; I wanted to do that.”
Unlike most college freshmen, she knew her major would be speech therapy. She followed that dream, earning an undergraduate degree from Nicholls State and master’s and doctoral degrees from LSU.
By its very nature, communication sciences and disorders (CSD) is a “giving” field and its practitioners service oriented. So, after winning the college-level Award for Excellence in Service five times since 1999, it seemed only a question of when Stiegler would win one of the university’s most prestigious faculty recognitions, the President’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service; 2010 was her turn.
To Stiegler, service is a natural outgrowth of being a professor in a discipline she loves, whether it involves counseling students or assisting the department, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences or the university in general. In addition, her advocacy work for children with disabilities especially those diagnosed with autism and related disorders has made her a “go-to” professional for families searching for accurate advice in a vast sea of misinformation.
Professor and graduate coordinator for CSD, she also has served for the last 15 years as the faculty advisor for the university’s chapter of the National Student Speech-Language and Hearing Association. Stiegler expanded and strengthened the chapter to the point it was named National Chapter of the Year in 2004. Typically, Southeastern has one of the largest student contingents attending the American Speech-Language Hearing Association conference 68 at last year’s meeting which triggers amazement among her colleagues and enhances the program’s profile and image.
“I started the tradition of taking students to national conventions,” said Stiegler, who coordinates fund raising activities to help cover costs. “It’s such a wonderful learning experience for them. They may not remember everything from class, but they sure remember the conferences.”
Stiegler was elected to the Faculty Senate for five years and continues to serve on numerous committees and subcommittees. In helping to recruit students to Southeastern, she has never missed a Rock n’ Roar event, the annual festival tied to the high school literacy testing held at the university each spring.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to recruit students. My colleagues and I try to make our displays as experiential and educational as possible, highlighting different disorders we diagnose and treat.” The department’s exhibit has won the designation “Most Interactive Booth” for the simulations they provide for several years.
It is her expertise in the field of autism and its related disorders, however, that has earned her public recognition. She is a member of the board of Northshore Families Helping Families, a non-profit organization focused on disability-related issues. She is a member of the Louisiana State Autism Chapter, serves as a consultant to the Louisiana Department of Education and as a member of the advisory board for the Louisiana Autism Spectrum and Related Disabilities Project. In 1996 she received the Award for Higher Education Excellence from the Greater New Orleans Chapter of the Autism Society of America.
“I guess through word of mouth, a lot of people seek me out,” added Stiegler, who was named a “Health Care Hero” by New Orleans CityBusiness for her advocacy work. “I do a lot of workshops for teachers and consults with families. When a family gets this diagnosis, the parents are searching for dependable information. There is a lot of really bad misinformation out there about autism.”
Because of her expertise, Stiegler consulted and served as a technical director on a Lifetime Channel movie that was being shot in New Orleans called Miracle Run. “My first thought was ‘Please don’t make this move.’ The script was not realistic at all,” she said. “But the director told me to submit my suggestions, so I did, and many of those were incorporated.”
“A listing of accomplishments does not express the giving, caring personality that makes Dr. Stiegler an outstanding citizen of this university and community,” says Southeastern colleague Nina Simmons Mackie. “Her willingness to say ‘yes’ to projects, then jump in and get the job done is amazing. I don’t know how she does it all.”