Thomas William Swem, ED.D.



Dr. Richard D. Howe, “Thomas William Swem, ED.D.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed April 24, 2024,

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Thomas William Swem, ED.D.


Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty


Dr. Richard D. Howe




Biographical sketches


Boone (N.C.)

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage



Professor Emeritus

Biographical Text

Professor Emeritus of Language, Reading and Exceptionalities Thomas William Swem (August 31, 1936-) was born in South Bend, Indiana. He and his wife Marilyn, have two children: William Allen and Martha Jean. Swem received a B.S. degree in business administration (1959) and an M.A. degree in speech pathology (1964) from the University of Denver, Colorado; he also received certification in elementary education, special education, and speech pathology. In 1972, he was awarded a Ed.D. degree from the University of New Mexico. From 1964 to 1967 Swem worked as a speech therapist at the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation in Mishawaka, Indiana. He was an assistant professor of speech and hearing (1967-69) and of special education (1970-72) at Adams State College, Alamosa, Colorado, before joining the faculty of Appalachian State University in 1972. Dr Swem began his academic career at Appalachian State as an associate professor in the Department of Speech. In 1973, he was appointed associate professor in the Division of Human Resources and served in this capacity until 1975, when he became acting chair of the Department of Learning and Language Disabilities. In 1976, he held the position of an associate professor in special education, and in 1977, he was promoted to professor. While at Appalachian State, Swem's administrative duties included serving as coordinator of the Learning Disabilities Program, Division of Human Resources (1973-75); as graduate coordinator in the Department of Special Education (1976-82); as undergraduate coordinator for special education in the Department of Language, Reading, and Exceptionalities (1985-87); and as special education program coordinator (1994-96). Dr. Swem's professional affiliations include the membership in American Speech and Hearing Association, the Council for Exceptional Children (state federation treasurer, 1984-85; advisor to state student organization, 1982-84 and 1985-86), the Division for Children with Learning Disabilities, the Council for Learning Disabilities (state treasurer, 1983-84), and the Northwest Chapter Easter Seals Society for Crippled Children and Adults (president, 1974-75). Swem conducted workshops on learning disabilities in North Carolina and Tennessee for such agencies as the State Department of Public Instruction, the Southern Pines Educational Consortium, and the East Tennessee Project. He also served as a consultant to the Southern Piedmont Educational Consortium; to Caldwell County public schools, Title III Programs; to Winston-Salem State University, Urban-Rural Project; and to Pfeiffer College, Special Education Program Development. From 1973 to 1976, Swem received funding, in the amount of $104,000, from a Learning Disabilities Program Development Grant, awarded by the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction's Division for Exceptional Children. He also co-authored "Learning Disabilities and the Gifted Child: Food for Thought," published in the quarterly journal, North Carolina Association for the Gifted and Talented 13, no. 1 (1977). For his educational efforts, Dr. Swem was awarded the Reich College of Education's Outstanding Mentor Award in 1991 and 1995, and the Student Government Association's Outstanding Teaching Award in the 1985-86 and 1987-88 academic years. He was also recognized in the 1983-84 year, with a service award from the State Student Council for Exceptional Children. During his career, at Appalachian State, Swem served on the Faculty Club Planning Committee, the 504 Advisory Committee, the Academic Calendar Committee, the Microcomputer Planning Committee, the Student Advisement and Retention Committee, the University Committee to Develop Barrier Free Environment for Handicapped, and the College Curriculum Evaluation Committee. Within his department, Swem chaired the Special Education Undergraduate Program Revision Committee; and he was a member of the Special Education Graduate Program Comprehensive Evaluation Committee, the Ad Hoc Committee to revise the learning disabilities master's degree program, and the Faculty Student Grievance Committee; he was also advisor to graduate and undergraduate students in special education. Dr. Swem retired from the university in 1997 and was awarded emeritus status by Appalachian's Board of Trustees. Sources: Appalachian State University files. -Dr. Richard Howe

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