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OBU Announces Knight as Director of the New Speech-Language Pathology Program

March 7, 2024

OBU is excited to announce the appointment of Dr. AnnMarie Knight as director of the new Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program that is currently in development.

This hire marks a significant milestone as OBU expands its graduate healthcare offerings, with accreditation pending for four distinctive and innovative programs, which will require programmatic and HLC accreditation. The first hire was Dr. Brandy Brown as director of the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program, expected to launch in January 2026, with the application opening in early 2025.

OBU is also adding accelerated graduate healthcare programs to include Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP) and Master of Science in Physician Associate Studies (MS-PAS). The MS-SLP program is slated to begin in fall 2026, followed by MS-PAS in early 2027 and DPT in fall 2027. Pending accreditation, these programs are poised to address critical shortages in healthcare professions, meeting the evolving needs of communities across Oklahoma and beyond.

The healthcare industry faces many challenges in filling needed positions as there are too few graduates to meet current demand. Employment of speech-language pathologists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 13,200 openings for speech-language pathologists are projected each year, on average, over the next decade.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Knight as our new SLP program director,” said Dr. Micah Meek, associate dean for online, nontraditional and graduate education. “Dr. Knight has extensive experience in both academic and professional contexts. She also brings a wealth of knowledge, having served in state and national leadership roles. Dr. Knight's passion for learning, understanding of accreditation processes, and love for students make her an incredible addition to OBU.”

Knight, who will assume her duties June 1, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role, having served as associate professor and chair of the Speech-Language Pathology program at Columbia College in Columbia, S.C. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Communications Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Florida and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Florida.

Knight’s doctoral research focused on rehabilitation of acquired language disorders and her areas of clinical expertise include medical speech-language pathology and evaluation and treatment of communication and swallowing disorders resulting from neurologic and respiratory disease/injury. More recently, Knight’s research has been student-focused related to effective pedagogy in communication sciences and disorders.

Knight currently serves in state and national leadership roles through the South Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SCSHA), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and the Council for Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD). She was recently named to the CAPCSD AI Task Force, serves as Associate Coordinator for ASHA Special Interest Group 10: Issues in Higher Education, is the current SCSHA President and is an SLP member of the ASHA Council for Clinical Certification. She is an advocate for quality SLP academic and clinical training and for the ASHA SLP Assistant Certification (C-SLPA) program.

“I am wholeheartedly enthusiastic about developing the MS-SLP program at OBU,” Knight said. “This program is a unique opportunity to provide students with excellent academic and clinical training through an innovative and accessible education model. Graduates will be prepared to integrate faith and practice and will make a significant impact on their communities by improving the lives of individuals with communication and swallowing disorders.”

The degree programs will be built and delivered using a hybrid and accelerated education model which will make them highly accessible to aspiring health care professionals throughout Oklahoma and the entire nation. Courses will primarily be taught online, with portions of the program delivered in person on the OBU campus through hands-on lab immersion experiences. Each program will also include clinical and capstone requirements. This accelerated hybrid model is career-focused with a seamless transition into clinical practice and post-professional education programs.

“At OBU, we are focused on providing well-equipped, faith-forward professionals to meet the needs of our communities,” said OBU President Heath A. Thomas, Ph.D. “With these degrees in particular, we will be able to help our communities meet severe healthcare needs and address employee shortages we are experiencing in Oklahoma and throughout the nation.”

“The accelerated hybrid model in graduate healthcare helps students reach their professional goals more quickly while training them with excellence in the field,” said Dr. Larinee Dennis, co-provost and dean of business, health, science and education. “OBU is excited to pursue this option for tomorrow's future shapers in the allied health industry.”

 The Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant programs will each span two years (six semesters), while the Speech-Language Pathology program covers one and one-third years (four semesters). Learn more about these new health science programs.