Meet Dr. Boult: Department chair of Speech and Hearing Sciences reflects, looks toward the future

On Aug. 1, 2022, the Lamar University Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences gained a new chair that aimed to inspire the faculty, students and overall direction of the department. Six months later, the energy that flows through the hallways, classrooms, offices and clinic of the speech and hearing building is an energy that gives a simple impression when entering: excitement.

Now, after becoming established with the job and environment, Dr. Johanna Boult reflects on her time thus far as the chair of speech and hearing sciences while joyfully looking toward the future of the department she has been tasked to lead.

“Absolutely,” said Boult, when asked if she was happy she took a chance to join LU half a year ago. “It’s a standard practice for people to wake up and complain about going to work, but I love my job.”

Boult, born and raised in Northern California, became interested in the study of human language and communication due to her upbringing in a multi-cultural family. Her father, from Texas, and her mother, from New Jersey, allowed Boult to grow up in a house that involved daily cross-cultural communication. From the moment she was born, Boult knew where she was going.

jo-boult-2023.jpg“It just always fascinated me when it works well,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing, so I became interested in language. When I was in college, I got a linguistics degree with an emphasis in psychology from the University of California Santa Cruz because it was so interesting to me. I studied the thing that I love.”

Following a conversation with her mother and one of her friends, Boult became introduced to the field and study of speech-language pathology. From there, she applied to multiple schools and, after taking a leap of faith in the application process, was accepted into Northwestern University where she completed her master’s degree.

After graduating, Boult would go on to work in hospitals in Hawaii and within the rural Louisiana school system. It was during this time that her cross-cultural communication background came into play and opened her eyes up to a glaring problem within the profession.

“Wherever I worked, I saw the need for us to do better as a profession and providing services to clients from diverse backgrounds,” she said.

Boult became passionate about putting in place better policies and procedures when serving people from different cultural and language backgrounds. Her passion and drive led her to visiting a lecture given by Ida Stockman, professor emeritus from Michigan State University, at a community college in Bossier, Parish.

“The only way to describe it was like being in church,” she said. “Everyone else faded away and all I could see and hear was her. It was life altering and mind shifting. After her lecture, I just stood up and began asking questions, and then she asked me to come talk to her.”

Boult was invited to join Stockman at MSU and to study with her. Later, she graduated with her doctoral degree in audiology and speech sciences with a focus in urban studies after assisting Stockman with her work on the assessment of African American child language.

Boult then spent the next 14 years in teaching and administration positions at the University of Louisiana-Monroe and LSU Health Shreveport. After being approached by a former student from ULM regarding the open chair position at LU, Boult took the time to research the department and began to fall in love with the prospect of being at LU.

“I looked at all of the faculty members’ areas of interest, and there was a lot of overlap between theirs and mine,” she said. “I read the departmental strategic plan and it was so thoughtful. I was really impressed, and when I came to interview, I realized that there is meat in this system. I wanted to be a part of where this program was headed. I saw the promise.”

Before being offered the job, Boult had the opportunity to present a guest lecture to speech and hearing students at LU in early 2022. In a similar manner to the lecture she experienced from Ida Stockman, it was the students who convinced her future decision.

“The students are so integral to the vibe of the department,” she said. “I gave my guest lecture and the students were engaged, optimistic, responsive, empowered and involved in the discussion. I was so impressed by the students and that is the thing that made my decision.”

Not only did the engagement of the students play a role in Boult’s decision to come to LU, but it also was due to the faculty of the department. Boult defined them as “world class.”

“They are focused on teaching excellence but also have all sorts of research projects that are being published and funded,” she said. “As an administrator, it’s an ideal situation to be able to support faculty that are generally excellent.”

As Boult reflects on her past and the present state of the department, she is also looking towards the future of the department, its faculty, students and growth.

With the department running a fully functioning speech therapy and audiology clinic, offering bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees and most recently launching an SLPA track for current undergraduate students, Boult is excited for the future of the department and what it can offer.

“We are in the business of producing well-educated students,” she said. “We just want the community to know that we are a resource for education and a service to the community.”

To learn more about the Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences, visit