Karl Strom

In the first half of 2007, we lost a number of wonderful and talented people who have contributed much to the field of hearing health care, including renown researchers like Stuart Gatehouse and Dr. James Sheehy; distinguished clinicians and educators like John Duffy and Earnie Zelnick; prominent administrators like G. Donald Causey and Merle Lawrence; and figures in the industry like Dick Vessella. All of these people devoted much of their lives to helping individuals who have hearing loss.

So it was one more shock to learn that George S. Osborne, PhD, DDS, dean of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry’s (PCO) School of Audiology, passed away on June 14. He was 66. Osborne was a champion of the AuD movement and played a large role in online education. He also played important roles in several professional organizations, founding the Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology, and he was a co-founder and/or assumed leadership roles in the Audiology Foundation of America (AFA), American Academy of Audiology (AAA), and the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE).

Because I live in northern Minnesota, where George maintained a small private practice, I knew him as much for his office’s excellent reputation as I did for his higher-profile work in these important organizations. Although I didn’t agree with all of his viewpoints and ideas, George was one of those people you always enjoyed bumping into at trade shows, educational conferences, and airports; besides being intelligent and interesting, he was eternally cheerful, funny, full of enthusiasm, and highly driven.

It was immediately clear from our conversations that he loved (probably in order) his family, audiology, PCO, and flying his seaplane that he built by himself, and he was constantly updating members of the trade press on PCO’s progress. As the obituary that was written by his family states (see June 21 HR Insider), “As dean, Osborne created AuDonline, a robust and comprehensive program designed specifically as a bridge for licensed, practicing audiologists. Graduating 960 students to date, the program will have awarded more than 2,000 Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degrees when its last class graduates in 2010. In May of this year, Osborne presided over the graduation of the school’s first class of residential students, a day of celebration enjoyed by more than 800 people, and an accomplishment reflecting Osborne’s lifelong vision and professional tenacity.” George’s obituary appears in this issue, and at this writing, PCO had set up a blog to memorialize him on their Web site (www.pco.edu). Additionally, a scholarship fund in his name was established by students in 2001.

George Osborne posed with his PCO residential students in April at a reception held in conjunction with AudiologyNOW. Left to right: Michael Rairigh, Elizabeth Soof, Melanie Cole, Melissa Caine, Michelle Modisett, Osborne, Michael McCandless, and Ryan Horan.

I will end this tribute to George in the way I’m sure he would want me to end it: The PCO School of Audiology is currently accepting students for the Fall 2007 entering class. For further information, contact Debra Busacco at (800) 824-6262, ext 3140. Wherever he is, I bet he’s smiling.

Karl Strom