Tarleton Psychology celebrates 25 years

Kristen Bowman, Contributor

Over the past 25 years, the Tarleton State University Department of Psychological Sciences has jumped leaps and bounds. From the development of a Bachelors of Science degree to offering a Masters Program of Applied Psychology, the members of this department have worked for the highest degree of success for their students.

Psychology has not always been seen as its own major on campus, or even its own department. Before 1993, students were only able to choose from seven psychology classes that would be counted as electives. However, this small number of courses would come to change with the addition of key players in the development of the psychology program.

In 1975, Dr. Robert “Bob” Newby joined Tarleton as a professor. He quickly came up with the idea to offer courses in psychology that were more robust for students. By developing more classes, students could have more opportunities for learning about the characteristics of psychology.

After a great deal of work, in 1993 there were enough classes to offer degree in psychology. For the first graduating class of psychology students, there were only 13 students to receive the degree. From the most up to date numbers, 168 students graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology last year. Furthermore, from 1999 to 2018, there have been 1587 total graduates of this degree. This major is now one of the largest in The College of Education and even on campus.

At the 25 Anniversary Celebration of Psychology, Newby graciously shared some of his experiences in helping to develop the department. He explained that this department did not come into existence over night and was not solely his doing. While he is honored for the recognition of his hard work, he continuously explains that it took the work of many different individuals to make this department possible.

“It was a long and difficult battle to gain our own Psychology program,” explained Newby. “I took it day by day. Looking back now I had no idea that each day would turn into all of this. Yet, every milestone was worth it. I am grateful for each individual that helped this department to become what it is today.”

The celebration included a student from the first graduating class of psychology majors. Dr. Jennifer Dias, formally Jennifer Gibson was among the first graduating class and her name came first alphabetically at her graduation ceremony.

“You know, I like to say that I am the first graduate of the psychology program because my name was called first,” laughed Dias.

Dias explained that she waited several semesters for the degree to be offered. She took filler classes and believed that with the hard work of Newby, and others, that psychology would become its own major. And finally, it did. She is now a psychology professor and researcher here as well. Her point of view has played an important role in the development of the department because she has seen its growth.

Today, the large number of psychology students have vast opportunities to engage in their major further than simply attending class. The professors of the Department of Psychology offer students the ability to partake in research, study abroad, service projects, service learning, neuroscience and more. With various labs for psychological research, the department has only room to grow.

Dr. Jamie Borchardt, Department Head and Assistant Professor lead the ceremony by expressing her gratitude to all of the people who have made the success of the department possible. Borchardt has a long history with the department that helps her to plan for the future.

“I was an undergraduate, a graduate, a graduate assistant, an adjunct, and a faculty member for the College of Education,” stated Dr. Borchardt. “As I step into the new role as the Department Head for Psychological Sciences, I am very grateful that I have a wonderful group of faculty that are so involved in areas related to teaching, research and service. Our Department is blessed to work with a wonderful group of graduate and undergraduate students that make our job very fulfilling. Many of them are right there beside of us as we do research and service projects for the University, the community and beyond. Over the last 25 years, there has been a lot of growth, innovation and dynamic change, so I cannot wait to see what the next 25 years will bring to the table.”

The growth of this department is in good hands. Borchardt continuously invents new ideas for students to engage in, hosts various activities, teaches courses, and continues to complete all her responsibilities as Department Head, all while being an excellent role model for students.

Dr. Dominic Dottavio also was in attendance of the ceremony. He expressed his excitement over the success for the departments anniversary and of all of the accomplishments by the professors. His appearance only heightened the excitement of the celebration.

The current students of psychology are on the frontier of science. Learning about neuroscience, cognition, applied science, addiction, pain and much more. The department now offers a masters program with an applied track, which was another major milestone in Newby’s impact on the department. Students are able to continue their education at Tarleton because of the professors that work together to make another degree possible.

With the celebration of the departments 25 anniversary, they also introduced the Robert W. Newby Scholarship specifically for psychology majors to help with their finical burdens. This is the first scholarship on campus only for psychology majors. Because of the fact that many people are not around to see a scholarship that is named after them, Newby expressed his gratitude of the name.

The Tarleton Department of Psychological Sciences has worked extremely hard to help students become future psychologists. Each faculty member has a true love for their job that they express through their students and their projects. The psychology professors play the main role of helping students, creating new opportunities and developing their own professional growth. Each professor continuously provides a positive impact on the department.