Department Head's Welcome
Welcome to the University of Illinois Psychology Department as we start the new academic year of Fall 2017/Spring 2018. We have lots of exciting things going on.
To start with, we celebrate the inaugural year of our Masters in Psychological Science Program (MSPS). This program is designed to meet the needs of students who wish to enhance their preparation for a doctoral education and/or for a job in industry. Eight students are enrolled in the program which is located in dedicated renovated space on the 3rd floor West hallway of the building. We have hired a new Director to lead the program, Teaching Assistant Professor Dr. Caroline Tancredy. Dr. Tancredy is an award-winning teacher known for her dedication to the professional and academic development of her students and the MSPS program could not be in better hands. We owe special thanks to our Graduate Program Team including Associate Head and Director of Graduate Studies Professor Nicole Allen, Graduate Programs Coordinator Ashley Ramm, and Assistant Coordinator June Eubanks, for their tireless work in developing a seamless admissions process and establishing the infrastructure for the program, and to Dr. Tammy Sher for helping us in the development process. On this front, as on many others, Professor Bob Wickesberg provided invaluable leadership. We look forward to interacting with our MSPS students in our classrooms, labs, and Psychology Department activities.
This fall we are launching a project to create a new major in Brain and Cognitive Science. This effort is designed to showcase opportunities that are already available for education and training in our department but that are not readily obvious because they lack a unifying theme to describe them. We are pleased that the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has acknowledged the value and timeliness of this endeavor and has approved a search for a new Assistant Professor with a computational neuroscience background to support it. We have already created a search committee and have begun the process of shepherding a proposal for the new major through the various campus committees that will review and approve it. In the meantime the department is supporting efforts to create more opportunities for training in programming (e.g., Professor Alejandro Lleras offered an intensive workshop on MATLAB programming this summer which was fully enrolled).
Despite ongoing lean times due to state budget problems, the department has seen some exciting improvements to the building. The basement was closed over the summer for massive classroom renovations funding by campus and we look forward to our first two “smart” (iFLEX) classrooms. Hopefully any nostalgia over the loss of the old stadium-style classroom (Room 32) will be offset by the amazing new technology and organization of the new space, which allows both lecture and group project activities, as well as seamless computer and audio-visual integration. We also look forward to new elevators and a more attractive faÃ§ade on the upper floorsâ€”although we’ll need some patience for a few months while one or the other elevator is nonfunctional. To enhance the safety of our students and faculty who work at all hours, we are planning to invest in security cameras to monitor building entrances. In the meantime we have restored full services to the outdoor lighting system.
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our energetic and inspired Alumni Advisory Board to grow the Shape the Future Today fund, this year we will offer Professional Development Awards up to $500 to support research and travel for graduate students. Faculty will continue to be eligible to apply for $750, again thanks to the generosity of our alumni L. Gene and Cathie Lemon of the Lyle Lanier Fund. We remain grateful to our generous donors of graduate fellowships, including the Dallenbach Fellowship; the James H. Davis Fellowship; the Charles L. Hulin Fellowship; the Evelyn Hobson Fellowships in Psychology; the Fred & Ruby Kanfer Clinical Psychology Fellowship, the Rue Micklos Fellowship (designated for developmental students); and the Herbert Woodrow Fellowship. These are joined this fall by the new McGrath Graduate Fellowship, donated by Robert and Katherine McGrath. Alumni have also provided generous scholarships to undergraduate students, including the Cattell, Smith, and Spoor awards, as well as the Julie Sutton-Osgood Award and the Janet Tritsch Award.
Among other important activities, the Psychology Alumni Advisory Board has created a unique mentoring opportunity for undergraduates and alumni. The “First Friday of the Month” panel discussions help current students explore career options. We will announce the panelists soon for our 2017-18 schedule. To learn more about the Alumni Advisory Board please visit http://www.psychology.illinois.edu/alumni/
The Susan Stout Library gift funds have also allowed us to create a position for a graduate student to help with the organization, access, and use of Psychology Department research and training information, which we are calling “The Librarian”. The initial efforts of this position are focused on a website redesign for the department and the development of overarching research themes that better capture our wide range of collaborative and interdisciplinary work. Coming this fall we can look forward to a new and enhanced internet presence.
We are also pleased to announce the creation of a new Writing Support Center for graduate students, now located in Room 205. It will be staffed by an advanced graduate student who will be available for one-on-one writing consultation and assistance. In addition, resources for writing success will be developed including writing groups to support specific projects. Faculty oversight will be provided. We hope that this new service will enhance the success of our graduate students in their academic and professional endeavors.
Faculty development workshops are again planned for this year and will cover topics such as technology resources in the department and on campus, service dogs in the building and how to handle disability issues, and classroom safety and emergency awareness. Workshops will be held once monthly on Thursdays from 11-12:30 and all faculty are welcome to attend.
Finally, the department is planning a conference for the Spring semester 2018 entitled “Summit on Diversity in Psychology Science”. The meeting is intended to bring together nationally recognized as well as emergent psychological scientists whose work focuses on issues relevant to the science of diversity, broadly defined. The overarching aim of this Summit is to set a new agenda for research in psychological science that will transform the way we think about diversity and its context in the academy and in society more broadly.
Specific goals are 1) to provide a forum for psychologists and other social scientists to review, refine, and disseminate their knowledge of diversity science, 2) to cross-pollinate ideas, form new collaborations, and inspire other researchers to integrate diversity-related issues, questions, and methodologies into their own scholarship, and 3) to identify and promote new applications for relevant findings from psychological science in a variety of institutional spaces. It is also an opportunity to celebrate those who have been engaged in diversity-related scholarship and make their work more visible and accessible, both to other scholars and to the broader society in which we live and work.
The Summit is set to kick off on Monday March 26, 2018 at 4 pm with the Keynote Address and Lanier Lecture by Dr. Enrique Neblett (http://eneblett.web.unc.edu). Talks and workshops will take place at the I-Hotel on Tuesday March 27 and Wednesday March 28. Stay tuned for more information on speakers and workshops!
I look forward to working with all of you this year.
Professor and Department Head
Click on the title to check out these pictures from the classroom remodeling project in the basement. A second project to replace the elevators will begin in September. Beginning with the freight elevator, each elevator will be out of service for three months. To get quickly from one floor to another, and improve your fitness, we will encourage the use of the stairs. The repainting of the northeast stairwell has been completed, and the painter is starting on the southwest stairwell.
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