Commencement Speaker Orlando Taylor '57
A pioneer of research in the fields of communication sciences and disorders, educational linguistics, sociolinguistics and communication, Orlando Taylor is Vice Provost for Research, Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Communications at Howard University.
He has had a passion for education since his childhood days in Chattanooga, Tenn., and has been a lifelong advocate for the educational progress of minority students.
After graduating from Howard High School just before his 17th birthday in 1953, he was awarded a four-year scholarshp to Hampton Institute in Virginia where he participated in an exchange program for black students that brought him to Denison University for one year. Taylor lived in the Delta Upsilon fraternity house where he developed a new interest in interracial and intercultural communication. His mentor here was Professor of Speech Lionel G. Crocker, who taught him phonetics.
He graduated from Hampton in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in education and a full scholarship to Indiana University where he earned a master’s degree in 1960. He directed a speech and hearing clinic in Indiana for two years, then completed a doctoral program in education at University of Michigan, with a dissertation linking brain function with language and communication behaviors. Taylor taught at Indiana University as an assistant professor in Communication for five years and then moved on to the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C. In 1973, he joined the faculty of Howard University, and as the Dean of the School of Communication, enhanced their reputation and enabled them to produce the largest number of African American doctoral recipients in the country.
Taylor was one of the founders of the Black Caucus unit of the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) and a similar group, the Speech Association of America Black Caucus. His research in Ebonics and communication disorders led to a two-volume anthology in 1986, Nature of Communication Disorders in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations, and Treatment of Communication Disorders in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations. His most recent book, Making the Connection: Academic Achievement and Language Diversity in African American Children (1999) synthesizes his work on language variation, identity politics and academic achievement.
Taylor is past president of the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools and the National Communication Association. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Resarch and the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Board of Directors. He chairs the National Advisory Board for the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, a major National Science Foundaton-funded center at the University of Wisconsin.