Earl Harford, Ph.D. died September 24, 2016 at his home in Tucson, Arizona.
Dr. Harford was well known for his professional and academic career in Audiology which began at McGill University. He then spent seventeen years at Northwestern University where he taught, mentored, and published with luminaries in our profession including Raymond Carhart, Jim Jerger, Bill Rintelmann, Fred Bess, Joe Barry, Jim Curran, Richard Wilson and many other historical and current scientists and leaders in the profession. He was the first to publish on CROS amplification.
A true pioneer in audiology, Earl’s efforts helped shape the profession for the past 65 years. He had decades of experience in academia including influential roles at Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Minnesota Medical School. He was among the earliest researchers to introduce tympanometry, acoustic reflex measurements, and real-ear measurement in the United States.
After a decade in private practice in Minnesota where he was the first audiologist in the state to openly dispense hearing aids, Dr. Harford sold his practice and was asked to join Starkey Labs, Inc. He remained at Starkey for almost a decade where his contributions included working on microphone technology for in situ measurements of the ear. Perhaps, though, his greatest contribution at Starkey was the development of the Student Internship Program. Earl and Jim Curran developed a program for Audiology graduate students to come to Starkey for six weeks where they would participate and learn about product development, research, production, and all aspects of the manufacturing and distribution process. More than 150 audiologists went through this program and many of our current leaders in the profession were mentored by Earl in this program. It also shaped Earl’s recognition that existing audiology education was not adequately preparing students to enter the profession with the knowledge and skills necessary for independent clinical practice.
As an advocate for Audiology and the Au.D. degree, Dr. Harford delivered the Carhart Lecture at the combined meeting of the American Auditory Society and the American Academy of Audiology in 1993. It was there that he provided a rationale for an independent profession including the foundation for changing the existing model of master’s level education and become a doctoral profession, thereby creating an autonomous profession of Doctors of Audiology. Dr. Harford was the 2012 recipient of the Samuel F. Lybarger Honors for Achievements in Industry by the American Academy of Audiology.