Dr. Peter Ramig Retires, Leaving SLHS and a Legacy of Accomplishment

Dr. Peter Ramig is retiring from SLHS after 33 years, leaving a professional legacy of local and national success. He has published numerous articles and textbook chapters on the topic of stuttering research and treatment. In addition, he has participated in the development of many professional training videos on stuttering through the Stuttering Foundation of America, presented workshops on stuttering intervention and research to thousands of professionals, and he shares authorship with Darrell Dodge in their popular 2009 second edition of the book for clinicians called The Child and Adolescent Stuttering Treatment and Activity Resource Guide. This 400-page book has hundreds of therapy activities and a DVD with many reproducible handouts written in both English and Spanish.

While Dr. Ramig was preparing to retire, we had an opportunity to ask him about memorable experiences in his life and work. He was shaped early by hard work in rural Wisconsin beginning in the farm fields with migrant workers at the age of eleven: “The first Spanish words I learned from the men were lots of swear words. I remember my father threatened to wash out mouth with soap if I did not stop using such words.

At 14 I left the fields and worked at a mink ranch shoveling mink manure until age 15. Once I saw how inhumanly these animals were treated just so someone can flaunt wearing fur, I began to understand how animals are so unnecessarily exploited. This experience was the beginning of my now long-held care and appreciation for all animals big and small. From there I worked for a local sod and flower farmer, Wes Hansche, until age 18. Wes made a big influence in my life. He was an old guy with a tough exterior who worked me hard and swore like a raunchy Marine, but he had a big heart once one got past his tough skin. He told me many times that my stuttering should not mean that I could not go to college and do well. That encouragement was something I needed to hear at that time in my life. When I think of Wes, I'm reminded how one person can so positively impact the life of another”. 

At age 19, when Vietnam was escalating, Dr. Ramig was drafted and ended up going into the Marine Corps and then on to Vietnam: "After the Marines, at age 22, I started as a college freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh where I met Dr. Hal Homann, Professor of Speech-Language Pathology and a person who had an obvious stuttering problem. Hal had a big influence in my life as well. He knew a lot about stuttering, was compassionate, counseled me to help me deal with Vietnam-related issues and served as a role model, as someone who stuttered and was successful working as a teacher in a university. Until I met Hal, I never realized that a stutterer could seek out a professorship that involved a great deal of teaching. Hal and I became good friends and continued so until his death a couple years ago. 

Others who had a profound influence in my life were Drs. Lois Nelson  and Barry Guitar from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Both were people who stuttered and had made significant change themselves, and both specialized in stuttering treatment. Both contributed significantly to helping me change my stuttering, and as a result I began taking courses in SLP at Wisconsin and culminated my graduate training in the field at Purdue University several years later”. Peter received his MS degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and his doctorate from Purdue University

Peter described some of his earlier experiences at CU: “Finally, in 1989, earlier in my career at CU, I was fortunate to be invited by the famous Dr. Charles Van Riper to spend several days with him at his home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dr. Van Riper was a Founding Father of our profession and the worldwide authority at that time on the nature and treatment of stuttering. He was long retired from Western Michigan University and in failing health. The one-on-one time I had with him in his 133-year-old farm home was a great experience and was a motivating factor for me to focus my work much more on the treatment of persons who stutter.

I feel my more meaningful accomplishments over the past 33 years in SLHS at the University of Colorado have been with the many wonderful clients who stutter that I have worked with, and the several thousand undergrad and graduate students I have had the pleasure to teach over these 33 years. I'm also proud of the multi-million dollar corporate-sponsored Speech and Hearing Outreach Program that I developed and operated in Colorado and six other western states over a 10-year period of time. This screening and education program reached over 8000 clients, parents, and professionals during its tenure of operations”

Peter expressed strong appreciation for his tenure at CU: “I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked with so many wonderful CU undergraduate and graduate students over several decades. They have positively impacted me as I hope I have them. Similarly, my supportive SLHS colleagues have added to the enjoyment I feel in coming to the department everyday for so many years. They are all truly good people, and I'm truly fortunate to have had them in my professional life.

In concluding, Peter in turn offered strong encouragement to fellow SLPs, “I want to say one last time what I frequently have said to my graduate students over the years regarding treating persons who stutter.......... "You can be the impetus for helping change the lives of those who stutter!” "You can do this!"

Upon his retirement, Dr. Ramig plans to continue to do some consulting and writing. His footprints will certainly stay with SLHS.  Happy Retirement Dr. Ramig!