Saluki Pride: Valerie Boyer receives SIU’s Women of Distinction Award

Valerie Boyer, associate professor and communication disorders and sciences program director in the School of Health Sciences, has a strong and longstanding connection to SIU. She is a triple alumna, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication disorders and sciences and her doctorate in special education at the university. She’s been a faculty member since 2009.

Boyer’s career began as a speech-language pathologist in the region. Then she came to SIU, where she began to teach students her profession. She quickly earned several promotions and by 2013 was the director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, making a difference in the lives of children and their families throughout the region. Two years later, she became program director as well.

For her dedication and efforts, Boyer was recently presented the university’s Women of Distinction Award, one of nine Excellence Awards given to recognize faculty and staff for superior scholarship and creative endeavors, teaching and service. The award goes to an SIU employee who demonstrates excellence and a sustained commitment to women and inclusive excellence issues through leadership, vision or actions or through service while seeking to create a more equitable campus and improve people’s understanding of one another.

“I am honored to win the Women of Distinction Award,” Boyer said. “It is thrilling to be considered for an award based on my work at SIU. I have had the benefit of working with really great students. Our profession in communication disorders is dominated by women, and I am so proud to get to help prepare strong, compassionate future speech-language pathologists.”

Boyer also credits colleagues and family for helping her succeed.

“I also have been blessed with friends and mentors at SIU who have always believed in me and my work,” she said. “Maria Claudia Franca has been my teaching colleague and writing partner, and I am so grateful for her friendship. And my mom has always been my first and best teacher. She is the reason I became a speech-language pathologist.”


Name: Valerie Boyer

Department/title: associate professor and communication disorders and sciences program director in the School of Health Sciences

Years at SIU Carbondale: 15

Give us the elevator pitch for your job. 

I teach future speech-language pathologists. My goal is to help students acquire knowledge and skills to provide the best care possible for people in their communities. I study and write to try to better understand how we improve health and education to prevent, assess and treat communication disorders. I serve the university and the profession to try to build a strong future for the next generation.  

What is your favorite part of the job? 

My favorite part of my job is getting to work with inquisitive and enthusiastic students to help them meet their own professional goals.

Why did you choose SIU? 

This is home. I am a proud Saluki. My husband and my mom both have degrees from SIU. SIU provided us with a great education and wonderful memories. I am honored to be able to teach at this institution. 

Winter, summer, spring or fall…which one and why?

On campus – spring! I love Carbondale in the spring. It is so pretty, and people are excited for graduation and all the good things Southern Illinois summers offer. 

What was your first car, and would you like to have it again? Why or why not?

My first car was a blue Dodge Spirit. I absolutely loved that car because it meant freedom! I would love to have it again for a day or so to drive it around and pick up all the friends who used to ride in it with me at 16. 

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