It is with regret that we announce the passing of Professor Emeritus Claire Penn after a long illness.
She was the first A-rated scientist in the Faculty of Humanities at Wits and dedicated a significant portion of her life to the University, having worked at Wits for 44 years.
She held the endowed Chair of Speech Pathology and Audiology and served as the Director of the Health Communication Research Unit in the School of Human and Community Development.
Prof Penn had a strong international profile and was instrumental in the development of the field of health communications in South Africa. She was awarded the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) by the South African government (2007), for her "excellent contribution to the field of speech and language pathology, especially in the area of linguistics, sign language, child language, aphasia and head injury, and producing ground-breaking research in understanding the complexities of human communication”.
She was the winner of the Science & Technology category of the Shoprite/Checkers SABC2 Woman of the Year Awards (2008) and was the recipient of the Department of Science and Technology’s Distinguished Woman Scientist Award for Academic Excellence in the Social Sciences/Humanities in 2010.
Prof Penn will be remembered as an outstanding teacher, supervisor, researcher and mentor. She had a great vision for the profession and inspired generations of speech therapists and audiologists. Many who were taught and mentored by Prof Penn have gone on to become research and clinical leaders both locally and internationally.