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Callier Center Mourns Loss of Longtime Supporter Dr. Kenneth Altshuler

Dr. Kenneth Altshuler

Dr. Kenneth Altshuler, a longtime supporter of The University of Texas at Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders, died Jan. 6 at the age of 91. Early in his career, Altshuler developed a widely used mental health model for those with hearing loss and hearing impairment that impacted the field of psychiatry.

Altshuler was a board member of the Foundation for the Callier Center and Communication Disorders when he and his wife, Ruth, provided the inspiration and initial gift to start the Callier Care Fund, which is used to assist patients who experience financial barriers to accessing needed speech and hearing services. Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler, who also was a Callier Center supporter, died in 2017. The couple was known for their civic involvement and philanthropic generosity to many institutions in North Texas.

“Because of the Altshulers’ generosity, patients at Callier are able to access diagnostic and therapeutic services that can help them communicate with their family and friends and participate more fully in opportunities presented to them,” said Angela Shoup BS’89, MS’92, PhD’94, the Ludwig A. Michael, MD, Callier Center Executive Director.

With additional donations over the years, the Callier Care Fund has grown significantly since the Altshulers’ initial gift in 2007. The foundation’s annual Callier Cares Luncheon continues support of the Callier Care Fund.

At the time of his death, Altshuler served as a board member emeritus of the Callier foundation board, where he regularly provided ideas and information, while also helping to raise support for Callier Center programs.

“His commitment shined a light on the needs of people who are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as those who have speech and language difficulties. I believe the passion and the commitment that he and Ruth gave to the Callier Center will have far-reaching effects.”

Angela Shoup BS’89, MS’92, PhD’94, the Ludwig A. Michael, MD, Callier Center Executive Director

“Everyone there respected his comments and what he had to say,” said Emilynn Wilson, president of the Callier foundation board. “His background was so impressive, and he was such an intelligent individual.”

Altshuler served on the UT Southwestern Medical Center faculty for 42 years — 23 of them as chairman of psychiatry. Prior to that, he was on the faculty at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. According to retired Callier Center director Dr. Thomas Campbell, Altshuler had a particular interest in the mental health of people with hearing loss and impairment.

Dr. Thomas Campbell presented the Altshulers with the first Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Care Award in 2012. The annual award recognizes an individual or group that has contributed significantly to the betterment of the community and to advancing the care of patients with communication disorders. 

“Ken’s early work at Columbia resulted in the establishment of a psychiatric model to provide care to people with hearing loss and hearing impairment,” he said. “That program was instituted by the state of New York and many other states, profoundly impacting the field of mental health services.”

Shoup said Altshuler’s generous support for people struggling with communication disorders is inspirational.

“His commitment shined a light on the needs of people who are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as those who have speech and language difficulties. I believe the passion and the commitment that he and Ruth gave to the Callier Center will have far-reaching effects,” Shoup said.

Because of their dedication to the Callier Center and to those dealing with hearing and language issues, the center in 2012 began awarding the Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Care Award to individuals or groups who contribute significantly to the betterment of the community and to advancing the care of patients with communication disorders. The Altshulers were the first recipients of the award.

In 2018 a clinical wing inside the Callier Center Richardson Addition was named the Altshuler Wing, in honor of the couple who had contributed so much to the center.

“They gave generously, not only of their material resources, but also of their time and passion, which I think, in many ways, is the most important gift of all,” Shoup said. “The fact that they led by example, inspired others and helped the community recognize the importance of communication difficulties is a very powerful gift.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu.

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