The Hugh Knowles Center for Clinical and Basic Science in Hearing and Its Disorders was established in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northwestern University in 1988 through a gift from Knowles Electronics in honor of its founder, Hugh S. Knowles.
Hugh S. Knowles was born in Iowa in 1904. He spent his early years in Mexico, moving subsequently with his family to San Antonio, Texas, where he graduated from high school at age fourteen. Along with his fluency in languages and his love of the violin, Dr. Knowles developed a great interest in physics, mathematics, and engineering. He pursued his career first by enrolling at Alabama Polytechnic Institute and later at Columbia University, where he received a BA in 1928.
During World War II, Dr. Knowles applied his knowledge and skills to the development of communications equipment for the war effort. In 1946, he formed the firm of Industrial Research Products and, in 1954, he founded Knowles Electronics with the express purpose of improving the performance and cosmetics of hearing devices.
Dr. Knowles’ work in research and design is responsible for significant advances in communications technology—he held over 50 patents. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Alexander Graham Bell award (1978), the Silver Medal in Engineering Acoustics (1976), and the Audio Engineering Society’s Gold Medal (1978). He received an honorary doctor of science degree from Northwestern University in 1982.
The establishment of the Knowles Hearing Center at Northwestern University reflects Dr. Knowles’ commitment to his vocation as well as his deep concern for the improvement of the human condition.