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Fred H. Bess

Professor Emeritus


  • B.S., 1962, Carthage College, Kenosha, WI
  • M.S., 1964, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Ph.D., 1970, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI


Fred H. Bess was Director the National Center for Childhood Deafness and Family Communication and is Professor Emeritus of Audiology in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences. He served as Chair of the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences from 1978 until 2009.

Dr. Bess completed his undergraduate education at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, his Master’s at Vanderbilt University, and his Ph.D. in Audiology at the University of Michigan. In 1969 he initiated and directed the Audiology Program at Central Michigan University, where he remained until joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 1976. He is the author of well over a hundred journal articles, book chapters, monographs and books dealing with hearing and hearing impairment. Also numbering over one hundred are professional papers presented at scholarly meetings throughout the country. He has been principal investigator or project director for several million dollars in privately and federally funded research, training and demonstration grants. In addition, Dr. Bess has served as chairperson for seven symposia, which attracted international participation.

Dr. Bess holds membership in several professional and learned societies. In 1976 he was inducted as a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and in 1984, named a Distinguished Alumnus by Carthage College. The New York League for the Hard of Hearing conferred on Dr. Bess the 1986 Harris M. Jonas Award in Audiology for contributions to the advancement of hearing health care and rehabilitation. In 1992, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation bestowed upon him their prestigious Frank R. Kleffner Clinical Career Award. He is a Charter Member of the American Academy of Audiology and served as its president in 1990. In 1999, Dr. Bess was awarded the Honor’s of the Association by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and, the Frederick S. Berg Educational Audiology Award by the Educational Audiology Association; in 2002, he was awarded the Honor’s of the Tennessee Association for Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists, for his contributions to children with communication disorders; and in 2003, he was awarded the Dorothy Dreyer Award for Volunteerism by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.