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Earnest, Sue (1907-2007) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Earnest, Sue (1907-2007)
Variant Name: Dr. Sue
Fuller Form: Sue Wolfer Earnest

Historical Note:

Dr. Sue Earnest (nee Wolfer) was born September 19, 1906 in North Dakota. Her family moved to San Diego when she was four, where she spent most of her life. Earnest received a B.A in 1928 from San Diego State College, as well as an M.A. in 1938 and a Ph.D in 1947 from the University of Southern California.

Earnest married her college sweetheart, Lester Earnest, in 1928. After teaching in local elementary schools, Earnest joined the faculty at Memorial Junior High School in 1934 and taught speech, public address, drama and speech therapy. She adapted and produced six plays during the nine years she spent at Memorial Junior High.

Dr. Earnest joined the faculty at San Diego State College in 1947 as an assistant professor in the English and Psychology departments. In 1948 she became an Associate Professor in the Speech Department and made full professor in 1954. The Speech Arts Department encompassed four areas, Dramatic Arts, Speech Communication, Speech Pathology, Audiology, and Telecommunications and Film. From approximately 1959-1965 Earnest held a special leadership role as professor in charge of Speech Pathology and Audiology. She chaired the Speech Arts department in 1959-1960 and then again from 1970 until her retirement in 1973.

Earnest saw the department through two accreditations, and contributed countless hours of service to San Diego State through a variety of campus organizations after her retirement. Earnest founded the Speech and Hearing Clinic and was the director from 1953-1967. Her work and service inspired many who went on to work in the SDSU and San Diego communities.

Earnest's contributions to the community and San Diego State after her retirement in 1973 are numerous. Her direction at the Speech and Hearing Clinic led to the development of a Speech and Hearing Center for the military  at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Balboa Park. She was involved in various organizations, serving as president of the SDSU Alumni Association in 1940, of which she was a lifetime board member after 1948. She organized the first pre-1950's class reunion and located over 700 past alumni in the "lost alumni" campaign. The SDSU Alumni and Associates awarded Earnest in 1973 with the Distinguished Alumnus Award and again in 1998 with the Distinguished Alumni Service award.

Her involvement in the Mortar Board began in 1950, and prior to her retirement she was Mortar Board's faculty adviser for five years, facilitating the San Diego State Chapter's association with the National Board. In July 2000 the trustees of the National Mortar Board Foundation awarded Earnest as the sixth Distinguished Lifetime Board Member. In 1985 Earnest spearheaded the establishment of the SDSU Faculty and Staff Retirement Association. She was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Kappa Delta (debate), Zeta Phi Eta (speech) and Phi Beta Delta.

Throughout her life, Dr. Earnest traveled the U.S. and all over the world. The list of countries she traveled in include the United States, Australia, Austria, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Sicily, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Scandinavia, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Indonesia. She passed away on November 8, 2007.

Note Author: Emily Floyd

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