Coming Full Circle, Lehman Professor Celebrates 40 Years with a Gift to Students

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Wendy Papir-Bernstein
Wendy Papir-Bernstein

When Wendy Papir-Bernstein ’69 decided to make a large philanthropic gift, it’s little wonder that she chose to support Lehman College’s Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She is not only a proud alumna of the department, but a faculty member who has taught its aspiring practitioners for 40 years. 

Thanks to her gift of $100,000, the Wendy Papir-Bernstein Endowed Scholarship Fund will support the next generation of speech-language pathologists and audiologists at Lehman beginning in Fall 2024. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible.

“Professor Papir-Bernstein is keenly aware of the economic challenges our students face as they juggle family and work responsibilities in addition to their studies,” said Peggy Conner, department chair. “Scholarship recipients will know this investment in their education and growth comes from an esteemed educator’s belief in their potential.”

The endowment marks a full circle moment for Papir-Bernstein. 

Papir-Bernstein first arrived at Lehman, then Hunter College, as a 16-year-old from the Pelham section of the Bronx. She chose the College, in large part, because of its reputation, the beauty of its campus, and its location. 

“I always say I grew tall in the Bronx,” she said. “My family, we were people of the Bronx.” 

Initially majoring in psychology, she grew interested in theatre. However, when she enrolled in a required speech pathology course, she was hooked.

“It combines everything. You have to be out there with people, be on stage. It's psychology. It's everything that I loved,” she said. “From that moment on, my love for the profession just took off.”

As she was building her career in speech-language pathology as a clinician, program developer, and speech therapy supervisor—as well as in private practice—a former mentor invited her to return to Lehman as an instructor. 

“I had never taught university, but anything that I have ever been involved with, I just do 150 percent, so I devoted myself to it, in addition to my full-time work,” she said. “This is my 40th anniversary and I’ve taught every semester, both undergraduate and graduate courses.” During that time, she also authored a well-received textbook, The Practitioner’s Path in Speech-Language Pathology: The Art of School-Based Practice
Professor Papir-Bernstein has also been involved with volunteer leadership at both the national and state levels, including President of the New York State Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

“I'm not at the end of my career, but I would say I'm at the end-ish,” she said. I'm still involved with my professional activities and my teaching, so the gifting of this scholarship to the students of Lehman College just felt like it was the perfect thing to do.”