BOONE, N.C. — For more than 60 years, Appalachian State University has benefited from sustained support from Scottish Rite organizations in North Carolina. The contributions, which collectively total more than $2 million, have supported clinics, scholarships and programs related to communication disorders and reading education.
Scottish Rite Masons — one of several groups that are part of the worldwide fraternity known as Freemasonry — have long been committed to helping children with language disorders through their RiteCare organization, which supports clinics and outreach efforts, such as those found at App State.
The organizations’ donations to the university have largely been directed to the Charles and Geneva Scott Scottish Rite Communication Disorders Clinic and the Anderson Reading Clinic, and also fund graduate scholarships in the Beaver College of Health Sciences and Reich College of Education.
“We are profoundly grateful to these organizations for their ongoing generosity,” said Jane Barghothi, App State’s vice chancellor of university advancement. “These clinics are vital resources where community members can receive much-needed assistance locally, and they also serve as learning labs where our students gain hands-on experience.”
App State alumnus Alex Edmisten ’03 serves as an advocate for App State with NC RiteCare. He said the university’s clinics provide “amazing services” to children with language and reading disabilities, regardless of their families' ability to pay.
Through the support of the Scottish Rite, App State’s clinics will continue to educate and prepare some of the brightest speech-language pathologists and teachers, all of whom will make a difference in the lives of children, Edmisten said.
Building philanthropy across organizations
Support for App State from the Scottish Rite has come primarily through the NC Scottish Rite Masonic Foundation and the Hillery H. Rink Jr. Fund of the Winston-Salem Scottish Rite. The organizations have contributed to the following areas at App State:
- Anderson Reading Clinic.
- Appalachian State University Academy at Elkin.
- Appalachian State University Academy at Middle Fork.
- Charles and Geneva Scott Scottish Rite Communication Disorders Clinic.
- Hillery H. Rink Jr. Scottish Rite Graduate Scholarship for Speech-Language Pathology.
- Winston-Salem Valley Scottish Rite Scholarship for App State’s master’s program in reading education.
Of note, a bequest made by Hillery Hudson Rink Jr. enabled the Winston-Salem Scottish Rite to provide $175,000 to App State. The funds were designated for equipment purchases and scholarships for the university’s Communication Disorders Clinic, Anderson Reading Clinic and Academy at Middle Fork, as well as to help establish App State’s Academy at Elkin.
Addressing communication disorders
More than half of U.S. children ages 3–17 with a voice, speech, language or swallowing disorder received intervention services in the past year, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders — underscoring the need for these services to be available in the local area.
App State’s Communication Disorders Clinic, which was established in 1968, operates as a nonprofit unit within the Beaver College of Health Sciences’ Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
The clinic offers services for infants, children, adolescents and adults in the areas of speech-language and audiology. In 2021, the clinic served more than 500 patients, including 80 children. It also serves as a training facility for graduate students in the university’s speech-language pathology master’s degree program.
Uplifting literacy for youth
The Anderson Reading Clinic — which was established in the mid-1950s and named for Pat A. Anderson in 2015 — assists more than 100 children each year.
The need for reading clinics is demonstrated across the country. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 65% of U.S. fourth graders do not read at a proficient level.
App State’s clinic is the only university-based clinic in North Carolina that offers year-round teacher training and diagnostic and remedial reading services to children in the community.
Both undergraduate and graduate App State students work directly with children in the clinic, under the supervision of faculty members.
A Mountaineer connection
Edmisten has helped continue the decadeslong relationship between the Scottish Rite and App State, according to Barghothi.
“I couldn’t be prouder to be a Mountaineer and involved with our RiteCare Clinics,” Edmisten said.
He and his wife, Crystal, have established legacy endowments that will support the Anderson Reading Clinic and the Communications Disorders Clinic in perpetuity. Their daughter, Lydia, hopes to attend App State and study in the Beaver College of Health Sciences.
Edmisten, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communication, public relations from App State, is public relations chairman for the Orient of North Carolina Scottish Rite and president of the Ashe Shrine Club. He has more than 20 years of experience as an insurance adviser and insurance agency sales trainer for companies, including LifeStore Insurance, Blue Cross NC and Farm Bureau.
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About Appalachian’s Communication Disorders Clinic
The Charles E. and Geneva S. Scott Scottish Rite Communication Disorders Clinic at Appalachian State University, established in 1968, operates as a nonprofit unit housed within the Beaver College of Health Sciences’ Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. The clinic serves as a training facility for graduate students in Appalachian's speech-language pathology degree program, providing hands-on clinical learning experiences. It also offers prevention, assessment and treatment services in the areas of speech, language, swallowing and hearing disorders for children, adolescents and adults with communication disorders in the region. Learn more at https://cdclinic.appstate.edu.
About the Beaver College of Health Sciences
Appalachian State University’s Beaver College of Health Sciences (BCHS), opened in 2010, is transforming the health and quality of life for the communities it serves through interprofessional collaboration and innovation in teaching, scholarship, service and clinical outreach. BCHS offers nine undergraduate degree programs and seven graduate degree programs, which are organized into six departments: Nursing, Nutrition and Health Care Management, Public Health and Exercise Science, Recreation Management and Physical Education, Rehabilitation Sciences, and Social Work. The college’s academic programs are located in the Holmes Convocation Center on App State’s main campus and the Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences, a state-of-the-art, 203,000-square-foot facility that is the cornerstone of the Wellness District. In addition, the college supports the Blue Cross NC Institute for Health and Human Services and has collaborative partnerships with the Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Program, the Appalachian Regional Health System and numerous other health agencies. Learn more at https://healthsciences.appstate.edu.
About the Reich College of Education
Appalachian State University offers one of the largest undergraduate teacher preparation programs in North Carolina, graduating about 500 teachers a year. The Reich College of Education enrolls more than 2,000 students in its bachelor's, master's, education specialist and doctoral degree programs. With so many teacher education graduates working in the state, there is at least one RCOE graduate teaching in every county in North Carolina. Learn more at https://rcoe.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.