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A History of the Ohio Wesleyan University Department of Psychology
The Department of Psychology at Ohio Wesleyan has a long and rich history, being one of the oldest psychology departments in the nation. The Department was officially formed in 1917 when American psychology was in its infancy; psychology itself being formed as a separate academic discipline in Germany in 1879. The Department was created with the arrival of Dr. Wells from Oberlin as its first chairperson. Prior to that time a limited number of psychology courses were taught in the philosophy department by Dr. Duvall.
In the 84 years since then many of our over 2,000 psychology graduates have become prominent in the field as well as in related areas. During the past 30 years over 90 majors have gone on to receive Ph.D.'s in psychology. Many more have received masters level degrees in the fields of psychology, education, and social welfare. Among all of the nation's private undergraduate colleges, Ohio Wesleyan's department ranks 22nd - in the top 2.5 percent - in the number of graduates who later earn Ph.D.'s in psychology. Two of our graduates currently edit major journals in the field: Dr. Robert Kail is the editor of Psychological Science and Dr. Elizabeth Phelps is the editor of Emotion. Other graduates have obtained degrees in medicine, law, biology, and computer science to name just a few. Many more of our graduates have pursued careers outside of academe and many have distinguished themselves either in community service or in the business world. A recent survey of our over 1,100 living psychology alumni indicated that 12% are employed in social service agencies or in private practice as psychologists. Another 20% are employed in educational settings as college professors, researchers, secondary school teachers, school psychologists or special education teachers. Another 40% are employed in the business world. Among the many graduates who have distinguished themselves in business are Joseph Robertson, Vice-President of Rockwell International, and Frank Stanton, former President of CBS.
The current faculty at Ohio Wesleyan consists of fourteen Ph.D. psychologists. Seven hold full-time teaching positions, together offering an average of 22 different courses each year. The senior member of our Department, Dr. Harry Bahrick, holds the position of Research Professor within the Department and devotes full time to his research program, including the mentoring of students involved with the project. Three others serve as counselors at the University's counseling center and occasionally teach courses for the Department. One of our members is currently serving as Director of Information Systems, overseeing both academic and administrative computing, and another is serving as the Chair of the Division of Student Life. The Department also has a part-time veterinarian caring for its animal colonies and from time to time postdoctoral fellows working in our reesearch laboratories. Students and graduate psychology majors also serve as paid research associates in several of our research programs. All members of the Department are actively engaged in scholarly research and students often participate in these projects.
Housed on the ground floor of Phillips Hall since 1957, the Department has newly expanded research and teaching facilities. For a department of its size, the facilities offers students and faculty, especially in the areas of human memory, biofeedback, visual perception, animal conditioning, child development, and neuroscience, an excellent opportunity to combine classroom instruction with related laboratory experiences. Approximately 8,000 square feet in Phillips Hall are designated for empirical research and clinical observation. In addition, conveniently located near the Department's offices and laboratories are ample areas for classroom instruction. Several different types of microcomputer systems (Apple and IBM) are available for use in research projects and data analysis, and our students have unlimited access to these computers and the Department's own network which can be accessed from anywhere on campus. This network provides students access to a variety of different statistical packages, software programs, and e-mail for communication with other on- and off-campus systems. The Department has its own optic scanner, video digitizer, graphics equipment, and high speed laser printers. The Department is also linked to the University's network, the library's online catalog system, Internet, and several electronic journal and biographic databases. CD-ROM software (PsycLIT) both in the Department and main library provides students computerized access to the international serial literature in psychology and related disciplines.
The Department, in collaboration with the Department of Education, operates an experimental preschool. The Early Childhood Center is housed on campus in a building especially designed for use as a child development laboratory and nursery school. The Center, established in 1961, has over 4,300 square feet which includes two large classrooms, an art area, a large indoor recreation area, conference rooms and two observation rooms. The Center provides excellent opportunities for developmental research on and observation of preschool children and is used to coincide with classroom instruction. The Center employs 5 head teachers and a full-time director. In addition to research opportunities, the Center provides internships for a number of psychology undergraduates. Currently the Center enrolls over 100 children between the ages of 3 and 5 and employs over 30 undergraduates. It is open between the hours of 8:00 and 5:30.
The Department is proud of its excellent research facilities and in the accomplishments that have taken place in them. The Department is eager to continue its tradition of teaching and research excellence and encourages all psychology students to become involved on a one- to-one basis with faculty. These experiences provide students a greater appreciation of the exciting field of psychology.