University of Vermont Professor Barry Guitar, the 2015 recipient of the George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award, reminded guests at a luncheon Tuesday that listening to students is what makes a great teacher.

“There are no students without potential,’’ said Guitar, a professor of communication sciences and disorders and one of the world’s leading experts on stuttering. He told the story of a young woman who came to him and who – like Guitar, stuttered – and was thinking of leaving UVM.

“I helped her be able to do what she wanted with her life,’’ said Guitar, “which is to touch other people who stutter.” The award has inspired him to renew his commitment to all students, regardless of their ability, Guitar said.

At the luncheon at Billings Library, UVM President Tom Sullivan told Guitar that students find his classes "a life changing experience."

"You are simply an outstanding educator,'' Sullivan said, calling Guitar "an exceptional teacher, scholar and mentor."

The George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award is named in honor of the late Dean Emeritus George V. Kidder '22, who served the University of Vermont for more than 70 years.

Given annually by the UVM Alumni Association since 1974, the award honors full-time faculty for excellence in teaching and advising, for their ability to inspire students and have a lasting influence on their lives and for their positive impact on campus life beyond the classroom. Dozens of faculty, alumni and students wrote in support of Guitar.

Guitar came to the University of Vermont as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders in 1976. He was named associate professor in 1979 and full professor in 1986. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in 1966, his master’s from Western Michigan University in 1967, and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1974.

Guitar teaches and supervises clinical work in stuttering. His research interests include treatment for preschool children who stutter and treatment outcomes in children and adults. He is an expert in a stuttering treatment program for children called the Lidcombe method, which involves parents monitoring a child's speech, offering praise of fluent speech and feedback on stuttered speech. In his courses on speech science, he experiments with a variety of teaching approaches to help students develop a life-long habit of critical thinking and find their own best ways of learning.

With 25 years of funding from foundations and federal agencies including the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, more than 60 published papers, and a fifth edition of his widely used college textbook, Stuttering: An Integrated Approach to Its Nature and Treatment, soon to be published, Guitar, who conquered a stutter himself, is one of the field's most respected scholars.

In addition to his selection for the Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award, he is an elected fellow of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a past recipient of UVM’s Kroepsch-Maurice Award for Excellence in Teaching and received the Carnegie Foundation Award for Vermont Teacher of the Year in 1995.

"Without his motivation at this crucial turning point in my life, I would have abandoned my dream of making a difference in the lives of people who struggle to communicate," one alumnus wrote in support. A parent of one of his clients wrote, “Barry Guitar gave our son his voice.” In their letter of support, Guitar’s faculty colleagues wrote, “Barry does not merely teach, he changes lives and communities. We cannot imagine a more deserving individual.”


Jay Goyette