Byrne, Margaret

Margaret "Peg"
Byrne, PhD
Year Inducted: 
  • 1984: Association of Speech-Language-Hearing “Honors of the Association” Award
  • 1984: “Honors of NSSLHA” award for her formation of their organization in 1950
  • 1972: named Honorary Life Member of the Israeli Speech and Hearing Association
  • 1976: Outstanding Educator Award form Mortar Board
  • Wrote the book: The Development of Speech-Language-Hearing, at the University of Kansas 1880-1994
  • Margaret C. Byrne Student Research Fund to support student projects established by the Speech-Language Hearing Department

Margaret “Peg” Byrne Saricks, Professor Emerita in the Department of Speech-Language Hearing, taught for over 30 years at the University of Kansas.  Professor Byrne was a leader in the field of cleft palate research; she was also one of the earliest proponents of emphasizing language within the discipline, and her many activities and contributions to the field, Department, and the community were long-lasting.

Professor Byrne received her BA degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Speech and English in 1939, and her MA and PhD degrees in Speech Pathology from Northwestern University in 1945 and 1958, respectively.  From 1945-1952, she served as the Director of the Speech Clinic at Mount Mercy College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Professor Byrne first became associated with the University of Kansas in 1952, when she worked as an Associate Professor of Speech Pathology at KU Medical Center.  Her main research was in the areas of speech improvement, evaluation of children, and the language disorders of children.  As phenomenal a teacher as a researcher, she was nominated for the HOPE Award and in 1976, she received the Outstanding Educator Award from Mortar Board.

She served as Chairman of the KU Division of Speech Pathology and Audiology from 1960-1970.  As Chair, she ensured that the department’s doctoral program was approved, made many strides forward in curricular development, and received the very first Office of Education Training Grant in the country.  “Peg Byrne has always been efficient… She gets things done,” lauded Dick Schiefelbusch, former Director of the Bureau of Child Research.

Professor Byrne is best known in the field for her books Introduction to Communication Disorders and The Child Speaks: A Speech Improvement Program for Kindergarten and First Grade Children.  She was a Consultant for such varied groups as the Kansas Neurological Institute, Veteran Affairs, U.S. Office of Education, and the National programs for Project Head Start and the Early Childhood Education Program.  She was the Editor for the Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders and was a Fellow for the American Speech and Hearing Association, of which she was also an Executive Council member.

In 1972, Professor Byrne was named an Honorary Life Member of the Israeli Speech and Hearing Association for her work in the country.  From 1971-72, she helped develop a program on the early identification and prevention of communication problems for selected well-baby clinics in Tel Aviv while a Fulbright-Hays Educational Exchange Lecturer at the University of Tel Aviv Medical School.  She also directed three Tel Aviv Masters students on the early language acquisition of Israeli children.  As this was in the days well before the advent of electronic communication, she directed their studies by postal mail!

On November 17, 1984, the former President of the Association of Speech-Language-Hearing presented her with the “Honors of the Association” award for her “sustained service,  thoughtful and effective influence, pioneering efforts and leadership in her field, contributing to diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in that area, and advocacy of parents and classroom teachers in early intervention efforts.”  That same year, the National Student ASHA Executive Council conferred their “Honors of NSSLHA” award to her for her significant contributions in the formation of their organization beginning in 1950. 

Peg Byrne retired from the University in 1984; she passed away in September 1995 at the age of 77.  The Speech-Language Hearing Department established the Margaret C. Byrne Student Research Fund to support student projects and also created the Margaret C. Byrne Student Resources Room on the second floor of Haworth Hall on the University Campus.  She had previously made another very generous gift to the University, when she had donated her entire collection of books and journals to the department.  This collection included a few journals in complete sets; she and her husband offered that any duplicates in the collection could be sold and they would match the proceeds from the sale.  Her legacy also lives on with the book The Development of Speech-Language-Hearing at the University of Kansas 1880-1994.  Professor Byrne compiled and wrote this fully–illustrated book of 293 pages, which describes the people and events that played a part in the history of the department.

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