Psychology students were welcomed back to campus this semester with an email from department Chair and Associate Professor of pcyshology Dr. Jean Pretz detailing a number of faculty changes.
Pretz’s goals behind this email were to make students aware of all the changes, help them understand the circumstances and welcome the new faculty.
One of the most recent changes in faculty for the psychology department was quite unexpected. Dr. Joseph Mahoney left the College at the end of 2016 to continue his research at another institution in Chicago.
While this change was a surprise, the psychology department was fully supportive of Mahoney’s move and worked to come up with a solution to his absence as soon as possible.
With the full support of the administration, the psychology department was able to hire two new faculty- one to fill the hole left by Mahoney’s departure, and another to replace current adjunct professor Dr. Paul Dennis, who is teaching his last semester at Etown.
Pretz said while Mahoney’s departure was not something they could have planned for, the department has known Dennis was planning on leaving for about two years.
All psychology students were invited to help pick the individuals who would be joining the staff in the fall.
Students were invited to attend research talks by the potential professors.
They were encouraged to share their thoughts via both a formal feedback forum as well as by sending emails to Pretz.
A smaller group of students was then invited to have lunch with the finalists.
“I was very appreciative that the professors wanted us students involved in the decision-making process,” senior psychology major Alena DuDevoir said.
According to DuDevoir, this inclusion of student input shows how the “psych department likes to focus on the students’ needs.”
Pretz and the other faculty used students’ feedback in the final decision. “We hired extremely well-qualified individuals,” Pretz said.
Dr. Elizabeth Dalton is a clinical psychologist who has expertise on stress and mental health.
She will essentially be filling the role left behind by Dennis in the area of clinical/counseling psychology.
The department will also be welcoming Dr. Ian Macfarlane to fill Mahoney’s place in applied psychology.
Macfarlane is a counseling psychologist who is studying the professional development of clinicians. He also has a special interest in genetic counseling, which interests a number of psychology students.
In addition to these new faculty being welcomed in the fall, the psychology department currently has three adjunct professors.
Dr. Sharmin Maswood is teaching General Psychology, Dr. Natalie Barlett is teaching Child and Adolescent Development and Dr. Greg Smith is teaching Developmental Psychopathology.
Each of these adjuncts, however, has held full time faculty positions in the past and are qualified individuals.
While adjunct professors are often associated with disruption, these individuals are part of what helped many changes within the department go over so smoothly.
In the midst of all these changes, psychology Professor Dr. Catherine Lemley is on leave for the semester, and psychology Professor Dr. John Teske has just returned from his leave.
Pretz said she has not had any students come to her with concerns or issues as a result of so many changes.
While one of Mahoney’s advanced psychology courses was not offered this semester, Smith’s developmental psychopathology course has been alternatively offered for the first time due to his expertise in the field.
When asked about the future of the psychology department as a result of these changes, Pretz said the new faculty will hopefully expand the scope of the department with what they are able to offer.
“We expect that by hiring both of these faculty, we will be able to offer more clinical and counseling oriented classes, which is really a strong area of interest for our students,” she said.
There may also be several more courses that cover stress and health offered.
There will likely be one or two new courses taught by these faculty members in the fall of 2017, with more and more offerings to come down the line.