Campus News

Longtime coordinator made clinic her ‘stage’ for preparing future therapists to help oth

If the director had made a different casting call some three decades ago, the play might have been the thing for Jane Harvey, coordinator of the university’s Speech and Hearing Clinic and a one-time drama major.

But when auditions came and went without Harvey snagging a role, her adviser at Florida State University suggested she consider a ­career in the new field of speech pathology.

Two degrees, 30 years and hundreds of students later, Harvey is retiring next month from a challenging and rewarding career spent giving support, kindness and no-nonsense advice to future speech therapists.

Harvey credits her own adviser, the late Libby Thompson, for luring her into the profession.

“That was back in spring of 1964. The Beatles were hot, and Panama City was beckoning,” Harvey said.

After completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Florida State, Harvey worked at a speech and hearing clinic in Moultrie before coming to Athens in 1970 to work for the Clarke County School System.

When a position opened at UGA’s Speech and Hearing Clinic six years later, Harvey took the chance to give back to the profession, and said getting the job was a huge move for her.

“I thought, what a cool thing to do,” she said. “I wanted to guide students to be better at what they do, and that goes back to how much I admired the supervisors I had in grad school.” 

Harvey adapted to her new role as supervisor and was named clinic coordinator two years later. Many of Harvey’s former advisees have gone on to successful careers around the country, and some are busy teaching and mentoring the next cohort of speech and language specialists. 

Speech therapy is an increasingly popular field, and the College of Education’s graduate program is highly competitive.

The clinic staff calls Harvey “all-knowing,” and they’re only half joking. Harvey’s extensive experience and her knowledge of the department, its history and functioning have made her an invaluable resource to students, clients and co-workers alike. 

“Jane was instrumental in preparing me to be a speech-language pathologist,” said Paula Bargfrede, one of Harvey’s former students. Bargfrede, who now works at Yargo Elementary in Barrow County, plans to pursue a specialist degree in the near future.

After Bargfrede graduated, the two remained friends.

“She is truly a good person who has inspired me to be the speech language pathologist I am today,” Bargfrede said. “I only hope that I can mentor to others with the integrity that she conveyed to me.”

Harvey plans to begin her retirement with a trip to Italy, and said she hopes to visit family, work in her garden and be more ­spontaneous. 

“I want to give myself time to sit back and take a real deep breath and just say, ‘Okay, I don’t have to do anything today,’” she said.

Harvey is leaving UGA with a legacy of excellence, and a glaringly empty spotlight, challenging future speech therapists to step forward and take the stage.