By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — PLATTSBURGH — It would be inadequate to say simply that Ray Domenico has had a successful career.
The truth is the doctor of philosophy has had multiple successful careers.
"Whatever I get into, I get excited about," he said. "I'm that type of person."
Domenico, chair of the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department at Plattsburgh State, began his professional life as a speech-language pathologist nearly four decades ago.
And his unique contributions to the field recently earned him the Special Citation Award by the New York State Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
But Domenico's professional contributions reach far beyond the realm of speech-language pathology.
Throughout the years, he has held many titles, including associate dean of the Center for Educational Studies and Services, registrar, assistant to the vice president for academic affairs, and director of retention services and programs at Plattsburgh State.
In addition, Domenico has served as chair of the Northern New York Center Board and president of the New York Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.
And sometimes, on Sundays, Domenico sings at the Newman Center Catholic Church in Plattsburgh.
"I get involved in various things, and I like to work with people and learn.
“Part of that (Special) Citation is for people who have done things in their own field but also have expanded and made contributions in other areas,” he said.
After practicing speech pathology for 10 years at the Loretto Geriatric Center in Syracuse, Domenico came to Plattsburgh State in 1982 to chair the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department.
At the time, the department was known as the Hearing and Speech Science Department and was not accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
With Domenico on board, however, the department received its first accreditation from the association in the 1980s.
The chairperson was also instrumental in the creation of the Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology at Plattsburgh State, which was aimed at educating students about the aging population.
TEMP JOB EXTENDED
Domenico's career in teacher education began just a few years later, when the college's request for him to temporarily fill in as director of the Center for Educational Studies and Services turned into a full-time job as the program's associate dean.
In his new field, Domenico found himself at meetings with top education officials, including the state commissioner of education, where he served as a voice for the needs of teachers and students during a time when certification requirements for teachers were changing.
"That's really exciting to be part of that kind of conversation," he said.
And later, when he was appointed director of retention services and programs, Domenico was able to improve the number of students returning to the college from year to year by helping to implement support programs for freshmen.
But while he spent about 13 years devoted to roles in teacher education and administration, Domenico always maintained his licence to practice speech pathology.
"I still identified myself as, fundamentally, a speech-language pathologist.
“Like anyone who has any ability to help someone, whether it’s with physical therapy or mental-health counseling or any of those types of things, if you feel you can be an agent to help them, you do it,” he said.
In 2005, Domenico's professional life came full circle when he returned to what, by then, was known as the college's Communication Disorders and Sciences Department.
There, he helped to implement new courses to give graduate students a better background in disorders such as stuttering, voice pathologies and aphasias from neurological problems.
And in 2008, Domenico found himself, once again, the chair of the department.
"My particular role right now is to teach the courses and to supervise graduate clinicians and to be the chairperson.
"When you work with the graduate students, and you see the clients improving and you can work with people, it's very rewarding," he said.
"And, I have to say, we deal in areas in speech-language pathology that sometimes are quite frustrating because communication can be so abstract in terms of what it takes to make that work."
In addition to the Special Citation Award, Domenico also recently received word that his department's graduate program has been accredited for another eight years by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
It's been a great year," he said.
Though retirement may be in Domenico's future within the next few years, he still aspires to become even better at what he does.
“If I had a goal, I’d want to be a better and better professor and clinician and clinical supervisor," he said.
"That’s what I would want to be when I grow up.”
Email Ashleigh Livingston: firstname.lastname@example.org