Maurice (Murray) H. Miller, PhD, passed away on January 10, 2021 at age 90. Dr Miller was a pioneer in the field of occupational hearing conservation and a respected expert in numerous other areas of audiology, including sudden hearing loss, hearing disorders, and tinnitus. He directed programs in Communication Disorders at some of the nation’s leading medical and academic institutions and spent over 40 years as the Chief Audiological Consultant to the New York City Department of Health.
He started his career as the first speech and hearing therapist employed for the new center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. An outstanding student, he was one of several influential audiologists who studied under Robert West (a founding father of speech language pathology) at Brooklyn College including Mark Ross, Frederick Martin, John Duffy, Ernest Zelnick, and many more. Miller worked on his master’s degree at Brooklyn College where a large number of his patients were children with severe hearing impairment. Providing hearing aids, along with hearing and speech habilitation, to children with impaired hearing eventually became a primary mission of the center.
Dr Miller earned his PhD at Columbia University in 1956 and ultimately became Professor Emeritus of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology at the Steinhardt School of Education of New York University. He established many early Occupational Hearing Conservation programs, and authored over 200 articles in the peer-reviewed literature. He was a prolific author, with four textbooks and numerous textbook chapters with special interests in occupational hearing conservation (he guest-edited a special edition on the topic for Hearing Review in September 1999), Meniere’s disease (guest-edited the January 2005 issue on the subject for JAAA), idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (guest-edited November 2003 HR special issue), and diagnosis and management of people with severe, chronic, intractable tinnitus. Late in his career, with longtime friend and collaborator Jerome Schein, PhD, he also coauthored the Hearing Disorders Handbook. He also served as a editorial advisory board member of The Hearing Review.
Additionally, Dr Miller served on the five-person ASHA committee responsible for allowing audiologists to dispense hearing aids for the first time in the history of the profession—which helped change the face of Audiology forever. He was a dedicated and respected professor, and after retirement continued to teach at NYU as adjunct professor.
Dr Miller was recognized with many awards and honors during his career, including the 1996 Career Award from the American Academy of Audiology (the third Career Award presented by AAA), the 2002 Professor of the Year Award at NYU, and the 2013 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Honors of the Association Award. He was also the first audiologist in the United States to be elected President of the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation. Additionally, Dr Miller was an authority on the audiological aspects of tinnitus and was frequently quoted in the print media, and interviewed on radio and television on the subjects of noise, hearing loss, hearing aids, pediatric, and geriatric hearing impairments.
As pointed out in his obituary, Dr Miller loved language and was a brilliant public speaker. He valued the power of words and labored with love over every word he wrote. And he was still writing late in his 80s. He felt his passions deeply: for his faith, for his family, for his field. He had enough substance for two or three people. His sense of humor— famous for his puns— was unmatched. He was a great storyteller who admired anyone who could tell great stories. And he adored music and followed his favorite cantors like the devoted fan he was.
Dr Miller is survived by his wife, Anita; his children, Wendy and Laurence, and his grandchildren Matthew, Olivia, Gillian, and Naomi.