Psychology Department Receives National Award for Curricular Rigor

Psychology Department Receives National Award for Curricular Rigor


At the American Psychological Association (APA) Convention Aug. 9, the University of Dallas Psychology Department along with Professor of Psychology Scott Churchill received the 2014 Charlotte and Karl Bhler Award from the Society for Humanistic Psychology (SHP). Each year, SHP recognizes both an institution and an individual associated with that institution for "significant and lasting contributions to humanistic psychology."

"The psychology program at the University of Dallas is everything we value in the SHP, situating psychology as both a liberal art and a rigorous science," said Maureen O'Hara, professor of psychology at National University and nominator of the UD Psychology Department.

Associate Professor of Psychology Amy Fisher-Smith and Alyssa Alonso, MA '13, traveled to Washington, D.C., with Churchill, both to see him presented with the award on behalf of the Psychology Department and for a symposium on responses to the traveling United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibit "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race," which was on the UD campus in 2011-12. Fisher-Smith and Alonso presented a portion of the findings from a research project they conducted in conjunction with Assistant Professor of Psychology Erin K. Freeman and Associate Professor of History Charles Sullivan.

UD's undergraduate majors do typically require a thesis or some type of senior project, but the Bachelor of Arts in psychology is unique in that its undergraduate theses are frequently more than 100 pages long. The Psychology Department also offers a 36-credit Master of Arts and a 42-credit Master of Arts with a clinical concentration, as well as a 30-credit Master of Psychology and a 36-credit Master of Psychology with a clinical concentration.

"The UD psychology program challenges its students to look beyond common ways of thinking about human behavior," said Michael Gontarz, EdD, BA '81. "I am very grateful that the program's commitment to such rigor and scholarship has assisted me as a psychologist to likewise challenge conventional explanations of psychological, medical and educational issues with my clients. Undoubtedly, my clients benefited from this well-rounded view of psychology that very few university programs other than UD offer."

The Charlotte and Karl Bhler Award, named for a husband-and-wife team of psychologists whose work in the early 20th century brought humanistic values and phenomenological insight to developmental psychology and perception theory, is one of the most prestigious Annual Heritage Awards given out yearly by the SHP. The Psychology Department is the 15th institution to receive the award.

In the photo: Churchill, Fisher-Smith and Alonso at the APA Convention.


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