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Marquette University Alumni Association

College of Health Sciences Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award


Wilmette, Ill.

Many older adults are suffering from hearing loss and could be helped by the use of hearing aids. Only about 20 percent of them are willing to do so.

Dean wanted to find out why.

A professor emeritus at Northwestern University who specializes in the study of hearing and hearing loss management, Dean has retired from a full-time faculty position but continues to conduct research. Recently, he studied the psychological aspects of hearing loss management in older adults.

“Essentially, one in five individuals who could benefit from hearing aid use actually chooses to acquire and use one, despite their well-documented benefits to communication, learning and overall quality of life,” he says.

According to Dean’s research, cost is the top deterrent to hearing aid use, but gender differences also play a role. Older women are motivated by a personal drive to manage their own hearing loss and being able to communicate in social situations. Older men are more willing to use hearing aids when they were convinced that their hearing loss was medically irreversible and that hearing aids provided an efficient and affordable solution.

It’s the latest step in a long line of accomplishments for Dean, who was elected fellow of the Illinois Academy of Audiology, American Academy of Audiology and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. He is a founding fellow of the Hugh Knowles Center for Research in Hearing at Northwestern.

Dean has taught graduate courses in hearing impairment, hearing loss management in older adults, research in clinical audiology and professional ethics at three major research universities. He has published more than 50 articles in leading scientific and professional journals, authored chapters in 25 professional textbooks, and delivered approximately 300 professional presentations on topics in hearing loss management.

Dean and his wife, Kathleen, met at Marquette.

Get to Know: Dr. Dean C. Garstecki

Hometown:  Milwaukee

Favorite book: What’s That Pig Outdoors by Henry Kisor 

Someone past or present he’d like to have dinner with: George Burns, Wayne Carini and Roy Rogers

Favorite Marquette memory:  Unwinding to Beatles music in the Union Grill and watching Al McGuire coach his teams from the fourth row.

In grade school Dean wanted to be an attorney or sell insurance because then he could wear a coat and tie to work!